Obstacles to Academic Success
The internal critic is mental self-criticism. The internal critic says things like, "You can't do that!"
or "Don't do it that way, you'll embarrass yourself." The Internal Critic can stop us from doing
things for fear of shame and embarrassment, and it can make us feel generally incompetent and
bad about ourselves.
You can learn to identify and disarm your Internal Critics by being alert for them. When the
Internal Critic is at work, a student posed with a task might say, "I can't" or "I'm confused" in
order avoid embarrassment. Sometimes a student verbalizes the Internal Critic's message, as in:
"I'm too stupid to understand this."
Techniques for Disarming the Internal Critic
- Voice It...Write or say what the Internal Critic says. Be sure to add the Internal
Critic's emotional tone.
- Defend Yourself...Say to the Internal Critic, "Don't talk to me like that!"
- Talk Back to it...Write or say "I hear you, but I'm going ahead anyway."
- Ignore It...Acknowledge that the Internal Critic has been activated and say to
yourself, "There's that Internal Critic again" and shift your mental focus to the task at hand.
Sitting and having information come at you is passive. Making an effort to gain information is
active. School (and TV) are often experienced as passive. But learning is never passive. If you
want to know something, you have to expend some effort. Just letting the information wash over
you like a wave won't do it.
What happens when you say to yourself that a class, a professor, a book, or an assignment is too
difficult, boring, confusing, or a drag? Answer A or B...
- A. It makes you want to do it a lot.
- B. It makes you want to avoid it.
Remember that a negative attitude resides in a person's mind; it's not a characteristic of some
external object or experience. Things are not inherently difficult, boring, confusing, or a drag.
They get that way because someone labels them as such.
When students call some aspect of schoolwork a drag, they tend to avoid doing it. They put off
studying until an assignment or an exam are upon them, then they cram. The experience of
avoidance and cramming is unpleasant, and doing it strengthens the attitude that school is a drag.
Doing poorly on an assignment or exam because cramming wasn't sufficient to succeed supports
the attitude that school is hard or that the student is incompetent, which perpetuates the
Be on the lookout for a negative attitudes and their tendency to make you distance from
schoolwork. You may not be ready to adopt a positive attitude about school, but you can learn to
see the effects that negative attitudes have on your work.
In college you have to do homework. It's that simple. The rule of thumb is two hours of
homework for every hour of classtime. Writing papers and studying for exams can require even
more time. Students can do a time diary and an energy diary to determine how those finite
resources are invested in
daily activities, especially studying and homework. This will help them organize their schedules
so they can study more efficiently
Working in a group...
And it's more fun!
- encourages students to teach each other
- encourages students to ask questions
- encourages students to think critically
Some students have problems hearing, seeing or moving parts of their bodies and/or difficulties
reading or learning. They may have a chronic illness that gets in the way of learning. Student
Services Professionals can help student discover ways to master schoolwork despite these
Students complaining of lack of time or energy for schoolwork should do a time audit and an
determine how they invest these finite resources and find "windows" in their schedules for study
and to try to schedule school work when they have the most energy.
There are zillions of personal problems that can get in the way of student success. Students
should be open to exploring such obstacles so they student can become aware of their impact
. Trained helpers can work with students to help them solve non-academic
Some students have little or no emotional support from family or friends for their work in college.
And some have little or no practical help, like financial support, a suitable place to live and study,
reliable and efficient transportation, or adequate nutrition. Student Support Services can discuss
with students ways to solve these problems.
Students have different needs when it comes to their optimum learning environment. Some like it
quite, some like music or other sounds in the background. Some like to sit at a desk, others like
to lie on the floor. Students can determine their particular learning styles and establish an
environment that supports learning and study.
The Tutoring Center and Students Services can help students become aware of skill-deficits and
suggest ways to strengthen them.
Some student don't know how to use the library, a computer or a calculator. They don't know
how to ask an instructor, a classmate, or a trained tutor for help.