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It’s a common story. The student who cruised through high school heads to college and struggles. In high school, they were high-achieving, hard working, and everything was smooth sailing. Then, they got to college and things changed. First semester was a little rocky. They’re living on their own now, and then throw in some tough classes, a up-and-down transition, and maybe even pledging a house. By the end of the semester, things don’t exactly turn out the way the student or parents expected.

We often hear from families in this situation. Typically, what happens is that over winter break there’s a little extra tension in the house. The parents aren’t happy, the student is disappointed in themselves, and everyone wants a better outcome. This always comes back to the same question: Where do we go from here?

Coming off a rough semester, it’s important to follow a simple process to make changes and turn things around.

How to find success next semester in college:

Reflect and build awareness.

Revisit first semester and examine what happened. What were their strengths? What were their challenges? Where do they feel like they can get better and improve? By examining questions like this (and many, many more) we can get to the root of the challenges of the first semester.

Identify goals.

Next, we identify the goals the student would like to strive for. Goals can come from a variety of different areas. Usually, GPA is the first one. We have supported students through study, sleep, eating, exercise, library, social goals, and more. Students need to clearly state what they are hoping to achieve in the areas that make up the totality of their college success.

Put together a plan.

Take the goals and lay out the monthly, weekly, and daily steps that are going to be necessary in order to make them a reality. As with all goals, we can make positive progress by breaking them down into smaller steps and using more incremental steps to get there. 

Follow through and execute.

This last part is the most challenging. Our coaches support students on a weekly basis, help them hold themselves accountable, and follow through on the steps they’ve laid out. Coach or not, students need to be able to have frequent check-ins, monitor their progress, and evaluate themselves.


When college students are able to evaluate their last semester, create goals, plans, and then execute the plan, they are more likely to have a successful semester. Our Academic and Executive Function Coaches help college students “right the ship” after a challenging first semester in college and develop the skills they will need to excel in college.

Connect with us about supporting your college student through Academic Coaching here. 


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