More advice to a student who wants to do better.

I served on a committee at my college that reviews the cases of struggling students. I wrote these words for one of those students.

You can strengthen your petition even more by making your account of the decision, habits, and influences of the past year more specific. You can strengthen it by making your plan for improvement more specific.”

Explain how, if you again encounter difficulty in a course, you will recognize the challenge earlier and seek help earlier.”

The improvement of specific skills related to the discipline in which you have chosen to concentrate your studies (for example, programming skills if you are studying computer science) can help you. However, I suspect that improved focus, self-discipline, a willingness to make use of the resources that the college makes available to you, and a commitment to invest the necessary time and effort in your studies will be more important factors in determining your success.”

Again, do not write a detailed confession, but do show that you recognize how decisions you made in the past led to trouble. I do not know what those decisions might have been in your case. I do know that many other students spend too much time playing games, get too little sleep, or eat irregularly. Some students go through a year without finding a good place to study. Emotionally intense relationships with classmates or friends back at home exhaust and distract many students. Sometimes students involve themselves too much in the problems of friends, when their friends would be better served by a professional counselor rather than by a caring but untrained peer. Think about your own circumstances. Can you identify decisions, habits, or influences that have held you back?”

Very rarely does a student at our college lack the intellectual capacity to succeed academically. Do not discount your abilities. Do not denigrate yourself. With the right attitudes, habits, and the company of supportive people, you can succeed.


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