Falling Behind in College

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John Milovich
John Milovich
ScamFighter Expert
Former college customer turned freelance writer, shares insider insights on the essay industry.

How to catch up on school work when you are behind? That’s one of the most frequent Internet requests searched by students. Besides many other issues like how to do homework fast or how to write a 10-page essay in 2 hours, this one is an absolute leader because it, as many believe, is the key to success and a solution to many problems. And there is actually an element of truth present here.

All problems and challenges that students face are in one way or another caused by falling behind in college. Some students complain that the reason why they are falling behind in school or college is the lack of time and provide a long list of really good reasons from a part-time job to family issues. 

Others say honestly and directly that they don’t know how to get motivated to do homework, and, personally, I do not consider it laziness. It is really difficult to be involved in doing routine tasks from day to day without any significant reward. Let’s be honest, good marks are important, but they are just marks, and very few students feel satisfied enough by getting a good mark after spending a couple of nights writing an essay. Others just feel tired and exhausted, and even a good mark cannot compensate for the efforts which were spent on doing homework.

So, we have two types of people who have different reasons but equally want to understand how to catch up in college. And I think I know the solution to this problem because I tested it while I was in college and successfully applied the same approach later at work and for daily stuff.

It is all about planning, not college itself or the number of tasks you have to do, but the ability to organize your daily tasks. Bad time management is the reason why you don’t have enough time to complete all assignments on-time and even why you don’t want to do homework in college. For the first one, such an explanation seems to be logical, but you may ask: “Where is the connection between the lack of motivation to write yet another essay and bad time-management?” However, the interrelationship between them is stronger than most of you can imagine.

How good time management skills can solve your motivational problems

What is time management? You all know that pretty well, it is a skill to organize your day and tasks in a manner to complete them all in accordance with the required deadline. However, there is one more important thing about time management which most people do not notice or do not understand in a full measure. It is balance. Time management is not only about making a schedule that will cover all the issues you plan to do for this day, it is about balancing the work and rest during a day. The lack of a proper amount of breaks within a day, week or month is why you feel so exhausted and unmotivated to do your homework.

The first time I understood it happened when I was in college. I had two weeks to prepare for the test. I knew that learning all the materials would require about 60 hours. So, having 14 days in store, I could spend 4-5 hours a day on study and learn everything before the test. However, I had a bright idea that I’d better take a few days off and then start studying. After two days of doing nothing, it was time to prepare for the test. I still could spend around 5 hours a day for the test, and I decided that I could let myself take a few more days off and then I would just study a bit more for the remaining days.

All in all, I spent a week of doing nothing thinking that it was fair to make a week of relaxing and then a week of studying hard. After such a long-lasting good rest, I should be full of energy and desire to start my preparations for the test. Now I had to spend 10 hours a day studying. After the first two days of this marathon, I was so tired that the next day I was able to spend only 3 hours on preparation for the test. It was very difficult for me to get focused, I couldn’t concentrate on reading, and my brain desperately needed some rest which I let it have. The next day went a bit better, but I still didn’t spend enough time on studying and had already fallen behind by that time.  

I didn’t pass that test very good because despite having two weeks for preparations, I failed to learn everything that was needed, although I had more than enough time. My problem was not the lack of time, neither tiredness or a huge amount of materials to learn and refresh in my memory. The reason I failed was procrastination and my unbalanced tactic - one week of rest and one week of hard work. However, my initial plan was good, and if I had followed it, I wouldn’t have gotten so exhausted, learning everything on time and even having enough time for relaxation.

You see, when you are working too much without breaks, you become tired much faster. Short pieces of rests are needed to make your brain cool down and reduce the level of pressure and stress. That helps you to stay concentrated and motivated even if you have to work 12 hours a day. The balance between the time for work and the time for rest is what allows doing everything on time and keeping your motivation high.

How to be motivated to do homework. A simple strategy that works!

As I have mentioned before, you need to combine the time you spend on work and the time you leave for rest. But there is one more thing which will help you to gain success - a system of rewards. Let’s say you need to study 6 hours today. The subject is boring as hell, and you need a very and very high level of motivation in order not to give up after the first hour. So, what do I offer?

Break your task into chunks, and then, for instance, after every two hours of study you will make a break for 30-60 minutes and spend that time with maximum pleasure. Set a specific volume of materials that you need to learn within this period. Do not cheat, set exactly as much as you can cope with. Besides, if you manage to get done with it faster, for example, you planned to learn the materials in 2 hours, but you did it in 1 hour and 45 minutes, then the extra 15 minutes can be added to your break time.

The obligatory condition is not just making breaks but rewarding yourself. In my case, TV shows worked pretty well. My break was just enough to watch 1 episode, and as you know, they always end in the most unexpected way and at the most interesting moment. So, I had a huge motivation to deal with the next portion of materials so that I could watch what happened next. As a reward, you can choose any other thing - food, music, chatting, exercises, or anything else that will push you forward. Now you know how to stay focused while doing homework and can use this method to be constantly rewarded for that.

How to keep everything in mind and do not forget about important things

Come on, guys, the 21st century is here. The era of notebooks is over. Each of us has a smartphone, a tool which gives you probably unlimited opportunities to make your life easier. Why not use it if you don’t know how to get back into college. There are dozens of free apps which allow you to make a schedule of your day, week, or a month. You can plan everything hourly and even set the reminder which will notify you about the things you need to do next or inform you about some important events in advance.

Another reason why these apps are so helpful is because you can monitor your progress. For example, how many tasks that you planned for the week you have completed and how many you haven’t.

I know that in the beginning, it may be quite difficult for you to understand what volume of work it is possible to do. You may overestimate your abilities or the amount of free time that you have and, as a result, not cope with all the tasks according to the deadline. Hence, weekly and monthly checks are a must.

Regular revisions will allow you to find a balance of how many tasks you can successfully complete without losing motivation. Due to this approach, you will forget about “i don t want to do my homework” excuses because you will become more self-organized and less tired of the uncontrolled amount of assignments that you have to do right now. I hope that all the secrets and tips that I shared with you will be useful and help you to overcome the current challenges with study that you have.