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What to do if You're Struggling in Courses

October 18, 2021

We have all had a course that we’ve struggled with, presently or in the past. It is important to know the appropriate steps to take when you have found out that your first test did not go the way you intended it to. It is very easy to get overwhelmed with a particular course's workload or level of difficulty, but it is important to not get discouraged or worried that you will not get through the course. The College of Business at Idaho State University takes pride in ensuring that we have many resources that help students succeed academically. From free tutoring sessions, mentoring and professors that will take time out of their schedule to ensure students grasp the material in their courses. There are essential intangibles that we may be able to control as students which include work ethic, preparation and attitude. Sometimes these factors may contribute to the barriers of academic success. Assuming that students possess these essential traits towards striving for academic success, this article focuses on key factors that can help any student overcome struggles that they may face with an increased course load or a difficult course that students are known to struggle in. 


Factor #1: Ask for help


As simple as asking for help may seem, we often shelter ourselves or are so overwhelmed that we ignore the importance of asking for help when we are struggling in a course. Professors are here to help you succeed in any way they can. They are willing to spend time outside of class if you happen to not be grasping a certain topic. If you sense that you may not be ready for your upcoming exam, make sure to spend adequate time going over specific areas you are struggling with and meet with your professor to discuss these areas. In the College of Business at Idaho State, professors all have open office hours where students can pop in and ask questions. These times are usually posted on their office doors, or you can always email your professors for a list of their schedule. 

Another way to ask for help is reaching out to your peers and talking about the topics that you are struggling with. It is likely that they may have difficulty with the same areas, so discussing these topics can benefit you both. I often used to have many study groups in different classes where I would spend time outside of class each week discussing the topics that the professor presented. 

Finally, the Idaho State College of Business offers tutoring hours with tutors that have been through known difficult courses such as economics, finance, accounting, statistics and more. Tutors work approximately 20 hours a week and they are flexible with students' schedules. Click here for the Tutoring Schedule


Factor #2: Know what to expect ahead of time


The reality of a known difficult class is that they take the most time out of your busy schedule. Having the mindset that you will have to allocate significantly more time to get through a difficult course is the starting point of the preparation process for your difficult course. To set yourself up to be successful in a class you know you might struggle in, students should review the syllabus for the given course and try and pick out the most challenging topics of the course, and dedicate time using a calendar or Google calendar to plan time to set yourself up with the best study plan to be successful. Additionally, spend time with your advisor discussing areas of difficulty in your degree of study and dedicate time to have an organized course plan for each semester until graduation. It may be beneficial to design your program of study where you may take fewer courses down the road where you know you will be taking a difficult course. Advisors at the College of Business at Idaho State help students find the appropriate courses to take to fulfill degree requirements and make sure they are aware of the most efficient path to graduation. It is important to bring up any concerns you may have regarding course difficulties that may concern you, and advisors have the knowledge to set students up with the best course load to be successful. If you are in an undergraduate program in the College of Business, contact Tara Smith -,  who oversees advising for undergraduate students, and contact Kristine McCarty - if you need advising in the MBA, MAcc and MHA graduate programs.

Factor #3 Stress free is the way to be


When we are overwhelmed by the difficulty of a course or wondering how we are going to get through the semester because of an increased workload, we often tend to worry more which makes our lives harder. Anxiety and stress are common factors for college students, and it is important to know how to manage these common factors as they can negatively impact the outcome of students' academic achievements. Many successful people use the common phrase, “there are 24 hours in a day”, which is important to consider as many people do not organize their daily schedule accordingly, which indicates balance. There needs to be balance in your daily schedule where there is allocated time to do activities such as exercise, or hanging out with your friends. This can alleviate stress, and dedicating the time to having a formatted schedule is the key. Stress management is extremely important, especially when we are faced with tasks that challenge ourselves extensively, check out the Blog written by marketing intern, Nicole Hulse, that dives deeper into handling everyday stress. 


This article covered three factors that can help students get through a difficult course or manage a high workload including, asking for help, knowing what to expect ahead of time and alleviating stress. I encourage students to utilize the resources at the College of Business as Idaho State. Faculty members have a passion for helping students achieve their academic and career goals, so use them as a resource to help you succeed. 




Work Cited 


Jeannine Phelan in High School on October 11, 2018. (2018, October 11). 7 ways to get back on track when struggling in a class. EducationQuest. Retrieved October 8, 2021, from 


Take online courses. earn college credit. Research Schools, Degrees & Careers. | Take Online Courses. Earn College Credit. Research Schools, Degrees & Careers. (n.d.). Retrieved October 8, 2021, from