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How to Get Back on Track in Your Class after Falling Behind

How to Get Back on Track in Your Class after Falling Behind

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By Trudy Doleman
Senior Support Representative II, APUS

It is the first Monday of the month and it’s time to log into class. You can feel success on the horizon!

We have all had those feelings of inspiration and motivation during the first few weeks of class. During this time, it doesn’t feel hard to complete readings, submit assignments, post forum discussions, and respond with interest and thoughtfulness to other classmates.

But just as you hit your stride finding the right balance between study times, work, family and personal time — something happens. It could be a 24-hour illness, an increase in your workload, a death in the family or even an unexpected deployment to a part of the world with spotty Internet connectivity at best.

Any number of factors have the potential to cause you to miss at least one of your weekly class deadlines. Before you know it, one missed assignment grows into several missed assignments and you have fallen way behind in your class.

What are your options? Is it possible to recover and complete the class? Yes, it is possible to recover and there are several options available to you.

Take Action Immediately and Contact Your Class Instructor

As soon as you realize you will have trouble posting your work by the due date, contact your instructor to ask if you may submit your work late. Include the reason why and a time when you will submit the assignments involved.

Also, ask your professor if there will be a penalty for a late submission and if your timeframe for completion is acceptable. If your professor allows for a late submission, it is important that you meet the extended deadline.

Submit High-Quality Work

Turn in your best possible work, just as if you were submitting on time for full credit. If there is a point deduction, try not to be discouraged. Fulfill the assignment’s instructions with the attitude that earning some points is better than a zero.

It is easy to dash something off with the attitude that it does not matter since you will not get full credit anyway. Trust me: your grade will reflect your approach.

Evaluate What You Have Missed

As soon as you are able, log into your classroom to take a look at what work you missed. Review each assignment to consider how much time you will need to complete each one.

If you missed a test or quiz, consider how much time you will need to study and to take the test. Keep in mind that most quizzes and tests are timed.

Do NOT click the “Begin Test” button unless you are ready to take the test. Once the timer begins, you will be able to stop the clock on your own.

Find Pockets of Time to Study

Next, look at your available study time that you can dedicate to reading assignments, composing written assignments or taking tests. Look for small pockets of time in your day; they are there.

For example, perhaps you can get some reading accomplished on your lunch break during work hours. That is 15 to 30 minutes you can use.

If you take breaks at work, you can find another 10 or 15 minutes to dedicate toward a plan of action. That is enough time to set up your paper or make a few notes in preparation for your forum or essay.

As a parent or caregiver, you may be overlooking another cluster of time: after-school activities. Your car can become your quiet classroom while your children are on the practice fields or in the studios. You may be surprised how much work you can get done in a short amount of focused time.

Turn to University Resources

There are some great university resources at your disposal that will help you get back on track and stay on track. Start with the APUS Library. There are writing samples, tips about different writing formats and links to scholarly materials to aid your research.

APUS also offers a free tutoring service for students. You can find more information in the APUS library under the “Resources and Services” tab.

Do Everything You Can Before You Drop the Class

If an instructor does not accept the proposal for a late submission, many students’ first reaction is to drop the class. While that is an option, make an appointment with an advisor before you drop the class.

Advisor contact information can be found in your Academic Plan. Advisors will be able to explain the impact that dropping the class will have on you, both academically and financially Your advisor can also help you identify possible solutions other than dropping the class.

No one plans to miss assignments, but sometimes unexpected things happen. Many instructors understand that fact and will do what they can to help students.

Resist the urge to suffer in silence as the zeros add up each week. Speak up! It is up to you to reach out to your professor and also ask for guidance from advisors. There is a team waiting to help you get back on track and stay there.

About the Author

Trudy Doleman has been with American Public University System for 15 years. She started in the Admissions Department, helping prospective students’ transition to new students who are ready to achieve their academic goals. Currently, Trudy is part of the Student Support Center, working with students who need some help getting back on track with their studies. You may contact her at TDoleman@apus.edu.

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