5 tips for catching up on school when you’ve fallen behind


Despite the best of intentions, even A students are falling behind. It’s tempting to throw away your old system and buy a new one. But if you don’t have time to do your homework, you probably don’t have time to start over with a new system either.

Fortunately, you don’t have to! There are other ways to catch up. Try these five tips for correcting your course when it’s too late to start from scratch.

1. Find out why this happened

A person who thinks deeply when using their Macbook.

Jonas Leupe /Unsplash

If you don’t know what caused you to fall behind, you might be making the mistake again. A common way for students to fall behind is to accept more than they can realistically handle. Taking stock of all of your obligations can be intimidating, but it’s a necessary step.

Start by adding up the number of hours per week you need to complete all of your classes. Schedule time for required reading, class attendance, and homework. Then add your other obligations, such as your part-time job, including commuting. Now schedule time for sleep, cooking and healthy eating.

There are 168 hours in total in the week. If the number of hours you have to spend is more than that, you have to cut something. Don’t reduce survival needs like sleep or eating a healthy diet. Doing this will only create new problems.

If it is at the start of the semester, you may be able to withdraw from a course without penalty. You can also ask your boss for reduced hours. Talk to your school about work-study or internship options. You may be able to get credits and a paycheck at the same time!

2. Get organized

A person working on a laptop in an organized study space

Avel Chuklanov /Unsplash

It is important not to confuse organization and aesthetics. The goal is to keep track of all your obligations and projects to plan them effectively. Whether this system looks ‘clean’ or not doesn’t matter, so don’t let that distract you into making it look pretty.

Avoid spreading everything you need to keep track of across a large number of apps and storage. Instead, keep it simple and store all your school supplies in Microsoft OneDrive.

Related: What is OneDrive? A Guide to Microsoft’s Cloud Storage Service

OneDrive is easy to learn and free to access. It also integrates well with other Microsoft programs, like Word and PowerPoint. Students can get these Office 365 programs for free, which makes OneDrive an even better choice.

Just drag and drop all your relevant files into your OneDrive folders. Then use the mobile app to scan printed documents such as handwritten notes into PDF files. Finally, save the web pages such as class forums as the file format Web page, complete. Now all your school materials are in one place.

To download: Microsoft OneDrive for Android | ios (Free, subscriptions available)

3. Prioritize your schedule

Student using calendar app to track tests and deadlines

Pexels /Pixabay

A good agenda is essential for a student. It allows you to organize your deadlines, class schedules, group meetings, work, etc. Putting all your things in a calendar will only take a few minutes, and it will help you prioritize.

When adding your schedule, include assignment deadlines. Then work backward to determine the deadlines for the drafts. These extra deadlines help prevent the accumulation of work and give you a more precise view of your schedule.

We recommend that you choose a planning app rather than a printed or dry erase calendar. Using an app means you can check and adjust your schedule on the go. You can also integrate useful details like relevant addresses more easily.

If your calendar is in your phone, it also helps you get rid of the habit of procrastination. This is because you can pick up your phone and schedule engagements instantly. This habit of approaching things right away is crucial for student success.

4. Manage energy

A sleeping student with a physics textbook on a pile of pages

Sumet B /Unsplash

If you try to work while you are tired, stressed, hungry, or thirsty, you are not going to absorb the information well. You’re also more likely to make mistakes, even if your nocturnal brain thinks it looks good. Maintain your energy by getting enough sleep at night and eating well during the day.

A great way to get your sleep schedule in order is to prevent yourself from using your phone at bedtime. This prevents you from absorbing too much blue light, which disrupts your sleep cycle. SleepTown is a good app for this because it rewards you for sleeping well.

While you sleep, SleepTown is building an adorable digital city, one house at a time. If you exit the app, however, your building will collapse into the rubble. It’s fun to watch your little town grow every morning! The app also includes features to help you stay responsible, set a healthy bedtime, and more.

To download: SleepTown for Android | ios (Free, premium version available)

5. Adjust your expectations

A goal-based planner with a cup of coffee next to it

Pixie Content /Unsplash

It is important not to stick to an impossible standard. Knowing how many hours you have to work should inform your goals for each assignment. Try to do your best with the resources you have, rather than trying to achieve a perfect result every time.

It is also important to consider the basic effects of being in school. This is a time in your life when you learn a lot not only about the subjects in your course, but also about the world around you, the people who live there and how you fit into it.

It is not fair to expect to be as productive during this period as during a more stable period. That’s part of why it’s so important to make room for rest and reflection in your schedule.

It’s not too late to catch up

With the right settings, it is possible to catch up. The important thing is to treat it as a learning experience. Take note of what works for you and what doesn’t. Think after each semester so that you can start the next one with a better plan each time.

As you go along, you’ll learn more about how you work, stay organized, and how much you can handle at a time. Ultimately, you’ll manage your time like a pro!


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