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What to do if you're struggling with your university course

A student sat at a large desk, which is covered with papers.If you're having problems academically, help is available to get your course under control.

Act quickly

The sooner you deal with academic problems, the better. Acting quickly means that you have more time to catch up, arrange extensions on coursework and deal with the situation before exam time arrives.

If you're struggling with your workload, it can be hard to find the time to take a step back and deal with the problem, but doing so will pay off in the long term.

Talk to someone

Universities are used to helping people who are having problems with their work. Most universities will allocate you an individual member of staff who you can go to for advice or support. This person may be called an academic adviser, personal adviser or tutor.

Not only can this person advise you on what to do next, they'll also be able to support you if you need to talk to other members of staff about your situation. For example, if you need an extension on a piece of work, your adviser will be able to help you to make the request.

You shouldn't take any drastic action, such as trying to drop modules or change courses, without talking to your adviser.

If for any reason you aren't comfortable talking to your adviser, there are other people you can turn to. Contact student services, talk to a trusted lecturer or search for 'pastoral care' on your university's website to find out more.

Identify the problem

People have academic problems for a wide variety of reasons. Often, they're caused by something unrelated to your course - like trouble with money or health - disrupting your studies. It's important to work out what the underlying cause of your problem is so that you can tackle it appropriately.

For example, if your problem is with the content of the course, you might want to ask your lecturers for extra help, change your private study, reconsider the modules you are taking or even move to a different course. On the other hand, if unrelated worries are affecting your studies, then making changes to your course are unlikely to help, although you may still benefit from extensions to work deadlines while you deal with the problem.

Talking to your adviser, and to other people you trust, should help you to work out what the problem is.

Make a plan

Once you have support and you have worked out the source of your problem, you can make a plan for how to deal with it. Depending on the nature of your problem, this could be anything from a new study plan to a period of counselling or a break from your studies. Your adviser should be able to help you make a suitable plan, taking full advantage of all the support that your university can offer you.

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