Tips for a Successful Semester

Having difficulty with classes is a new experience for many students coming to the University of Michigan.  For some, symptoms associated with mental health issues are the cause of their academic difficulties. Addressing mental health needs, sooner rather than later, can help minimize or even prevent academic trouble. But how can students manage their mental health issues while navigating the large and complex world of the “U?”  Below are some helpful strategies students can use to address both their academic and mental health needs as they progress towards graduation.

Plan your course load

  • Meet with your academic advisor to determine a plan of study and to select courses that not only interest you, but will best allow you to use your talents. 
  • Arrange your classes so that you are not taking too many that are similar in topic or level of challenge.  Work to develop a balanced schedule to maintain your interest level while avoiding burnout. 
  • Think about how many credit hours will be manageable for you. Many students make the mistake of enrolling in too many classes and become overwhelmed.  Financial aid requirements can have an impact on this decision. When evaluating the number of credit hours to take on, keep in mind that many financial aid packages require a specific number of credit hours be fulfilled each semester. 
  • Discuss with your academic advisor the option of including a class that may improve how you manage stress and promote healthy coping skills such as meditation, yoga or spiritual/religious courses. 

Take advantage of academic resources available to you

  • Many classes offer different types of study help, including office hours, Graduate Student Instructor meetings or study guides.
  • U-M offers several free academic resources, including writing and science consultation.
  • If you need help making the transition to using English for academic writing, consider taking one of the courses at the English Language Institute.
  • Many departments offer either free or low-cost tutoring services. Click here for a list of all tutoring services on campus.
  • Make an appointment with Services for Students with Disabilities if you think you could benefit from additional accommodations to improve your academic life.

Ask for help when you need it

  • Meet with your advisor and course instructors to assess your academic performance.  Establishing relationships with your professors or advisors from the start is always beneficial, and these relationships can be especially important if you experience symptoms of your disorder at some time during the term and need special academic considerations. 
  • If you find yourself struggling in a class, ask about tutoring, or, if appropriate, about the wisdom of staying in the class. Making the decision to withdraw from a class can be very difficult and worrisome.  Talk to your academic advisor to help you decide when to remain enrolled in a class and when it might be wise to withdraw for the semester.
  • Schedule an appointment with a mental health professional to address any symptoms that may be interfering with your academic performance.

Get organized

Take care of yourself and manage stress

  • Too much stress can have a negative impact on academic performance.  See tips for dealing with academic stress.
  • The state of your physical and mental health may impact your academic performance.  Finding ways to take care of yourself and manage your mental health can lead to improved outcomes and leave you better prepared to perform well in the classroom.  See self-care strategies for tips on staying healthy, or ask for recommendations from your healthcare provider.


Next > Managing Your Course Load

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