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Setting Academic Priorities

We set priorities every day in life—it’s a part of time management.  When looking at your life, you need to set aside some time for fun, some time for work, and a lot of time for school. 

Now, it is time to “subcontract,” if you will.  In the time you have set aside for academics, how much time will you spend on each class?  At this point, it’s time to prioritize each of your classes.

Looking over your classes, ask yourself:

  • Which courses are you currently doing the best?

  • Which courses are the most difficult?

  • How much of your grade has yet to be determined in each class?

Look at what is required for the rest of the semester for each class.  Divide assignments into “large” and “small” categories, depending on the number of points (or the percentage of your grade) each is worth. 

Is it reasonable to think that you can complete all assignments for each class?  Some tips to consider:

  • Concentrate more heavily on assignments that are worth significant portions of your grade.  These will have a greater impact overall.

  • If you have the choice between working on an assignment for a class in which you are doing very well (so it won’t hurt your grade if you skip it), and an assignment for a class in which you are currently struggling, do the later first.  It could have a greater impact on your final grade. 

  • Talk with your instructors.  Do you have a realistic picture of your performance in the class?

When to cut your losses

There are times when it becomes unrealistic to try to salvage a grade for a class.  Although these times are rare, it is important to recognize them before wasting time that could be spent on another course.

 Things to consider:

  • Talk with the instructor.  Is it possible to pass the course?

  • Is this course required for your major? Will you have to retake it?  If so, when?

  • How many credits is the course worth?

  • Is it too late to drop the course?  If you do drop, how will that affect your financial aid, insurance, etc?

  • How will an “F” or “D” affect your GPA?  Will it place you on academic warning or probation?  Will you go onto Financial Aid probation?

  • What got you into this situation?  Were there things you could have done to prevent this from happening?  What have you learned from this experience?