If college is overwhelming, try these tips before you consider withdrawing | Ask Kelly

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Dear Kelly,

I’m in my second year, and this semester has been especially tough. My children are still learning remotely, and I have become overwhelmed with their schooling and my own. I’m either helping them with all of their homework or trying to catch up on mine. I don’t want to withdraw, but I’m not sure what else I can do. Do you have any advice?

First of all, I want to say I can only imagine what this reader is going through. I am currently student teaching, and I have firsthand knowledge of how challenging online learning can be for children. They are in their own environment, yet they are online multiple hours a day trying to be engaged and retain all the information they are being taught. Many of my students have parents who monitor their school day regularly to ensure their children are focused and doing all that they are supposed to. It is a massive commitment, and I want to stop and applaud this parent for taking on that challenge.

What I don’t want this reader to do, however, is sacrifice his or her own education. There are other options to consider before withdrawing.

For this reader, and anyone experiencing a similar situation, I want to advise you to first talk to your professors. They are aware of the obstacles that nontraditional students face, in both everyday life and the pandemic. Ultimately, they want to see you succeed, and by meeting with them and letting them in on the hurdles you are facing, they may have suggestions and advice that you haven’t considered. I have followed this advice that I also told my sons when they went through school: Your professors are there to see you achieve your goals. Build relationships with them. Let them know who you are and that you value their teaching and advice.

Time management will play a huge role in navigating the balance between teaching your child and ensuring they are actively learning and also being dedicated to your own academic journey. Begin by obtaining a daily planner. There are several available online for free. Once you have the planner, rather than writing your assignments down on their due dates, I want you to break them up into manageable chunks. Let’s say you can devote an hour to homework each weeknight, with a little more time on the weekend. As you record those assignments, use the time you have each day instead of devoting several hours at a time. For essays or research papers, divide the tasks necessary and complete it over several days, rather than trying to complete it in one or two.

I would also have a discussion with your family and let them know what time each day you are devoting to your coursework. Maybe this time can be in the evening after dinner, when your children are watching TV or playing quietly in their room. Allowing your children to understand and observe that you value your education and are committed to your studies will model for them how important it is that they are equally as dedicated. Our children learn from us, and seeing you do your best will encourage them to do the same.

If, after speaking with your professors and trying to complete your coursework, you still aren’t able to get caught up, before you withdraw, seek your adviser’s counsel. Your adviser may help you discover solutions you hadn’t thought of. If you do have to drop one or all of your classes, your adviser also can help devise a plan for getting you back on track when you are able to restart your studies.

Ultimately, I want you to remember it’s not about how fast you finish your education but that you know you did your best when you do finish. Sometimes life happens, and adjustments have to be made. Although life is seemingly starting to get back to some semblance of normal, we are still in a challenging time. You have to do what is right for you and your family. By employing the advice of your professors and advisers, at the end of the day, you will know you made the right decision, regardless of what that decision is.

As always, I wish you health, happiness and continued success throughout your journey.

Each week Kelly Browning, an early childhood education/special education major and student ambassador at the Henry County Regional Academic Center, answers questions from the Mercer community. Email her at kelly.l.browning@live.mercer.edu or fill out our online form to submit your question anonymously.


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