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So you’re struggling academically — now what?

By Rachneet Randhawa, September 23 2021—

With the start of the new school year, you’re bound to get burnt out and in need of some academic support. For when you inevitably fail your first midterm, here are some resources you can check out. 

Academic turnaround program:

For those who are facing dire straits and need to regain their confidence in their academic standing, this is a great option. The Academic Turnaround Seminar Series is a weekly non-credit class designed to provide you with context strategies, help create goals and allow you to reflect on your continual improvement and wellbeing on a step-by-step basis. It comes with a cost of $500 and you require a passing grade of 70 per cent. It may seem too extra but it’s well worth your time as there will be tremendous gains in the long run — one of which may be getting off of academic probation. Not everybody is admitted, so be sure to chat with an advisor first to see if you’re an appropriate fit. 

Success Seminars:

For those that are decently passing their courses this may be the right option for you and a popular one for most students. Through condensed but handy workshops a group of trained peers or students share their key tips and skills for students to learn for study habits. Their programming focuses on three key areas — “Learning How to Learn” which includes helpful tactics to make you study smarter and not harder, “Time Management and Avoiding Procrastination” which includes  becoming proactive about scheduling study sessions assignments and lastly “Note-taking” which includes taking result-oriented notes for lectures and readings to bolster your study sessions. Workshops are offered often and I guaranteed to attend a handful will Fastrack you to GPA glory

PASS program:

These are organized study groups for designated courses usually run by PASS leaders or student peers who have completed said course and did well. Not all courses are supported— only the coveted ones that are considered more difficult. The nice aspect about this alternative approach is that you are getting the peer’s lived experience in a collaborative way where you are free to ask questions. It may also be less intimidating than asking your professor or Teaching Assistant (TA) for help. It doesn’t hurt to try it out, plus you might make a friend or two that is stressing out about the exact same midterm.

Virtual study hall:

It’s not for everyone, but will definitely help keep you motivated and remain on track. These Virtual Study Groups are online, collaborative, peer-to-peer study groups that occur weekly and are offered in a variety of different formats including course-based, program based, open study sessions and first-year study groups. We are social creatures, so it helps to make a connection once in a while to stay in the loop. For those of you who are new to virtual learning, or even commute to campus so don’t get to interact with others as much, I would recommend this as you can make new friends and adapt together to the daunting new task of going to university. 

Writing Support Services:

Gone are the days where you can churn out a book report for your English Literature class the night before in  high school and still pass smoothly with a decent B+. You will probably make at least a few trips to the writing support services thanks to the boatload of research papers you’ll write. I’m telling you this now because pretty much all your professors and TA’s will tell you to go here first before you reach out to them after you’ve bombed your first-course writing assignment. And although you may think you’re a pro, I’m not kidding when I say even a few sessions will improve your writing skills dramatically. The one-on-one coaching for writing support enables you to become an independent and effective writer. The writing support tutors come from a variety of backgrounds from disciplines and offer consultations based on your academic needs. They’ll walk you step-by-step through your writing process and give your useful strategies to write more relevant content for your course paper. Better yet they give ongoing feedback on a little bit of everything from essay structure, paragraph development, sentence structure, style, grammar and punctuation. Whether or not English is your first language you are bound to learn a thing or two. 

Wellness services: 

Physical and mental wellbeing are so crucial, not only to avoid burnout as a busy college student juggling multiple responsibilities, but to give yourself balance. It also has a drastic impact on your academic performance. 

Group programs: 

These are basically guided tours and peer self-help guided by psychologists and social workers from the mental health team. For example, Roots of Resiliency is a seven-week program I highly recommend as you learn from professionals to develop a growth mindset, earn an honorarium and usually snag a gift certificate. Overall, you have the chance to learn how to practice new skills in goal setting, physical literacy, healthy eating, healthy thinking and problem solving, stress management and spiritual and social connectedness. Typically it’s led by professionals like nutritionists, health promotion practitioners and counsellors. Plus, you get to meet like-minded peers who are experiencing similar issues of stress, anxiety or depression that you may also be facing making it more relatable and interactive than going to a generic counselling session.  


If groups are not your thing or you require more flexibility with your school schedule, these 50-minute wellness workshops offer quick and effective strategies to maintain mental health. These workshops are based on four themes of self-acceptance, stress and anxiety, improving behaviours and mood and emotional well-being with virtual options as well. 

Recovery College Calgary: 

With more than 30 courses to choose from offered via the Canadian Mental Health Association Calgary branch, these on-demand courses are proactive in teaching you about various mental wellness topics like Body Image, Adulting 101 and Building Better Boundaries. For those of you with busy schedules, you can easily do one of these in your off-times. And best of all they’re free for U of C students. 

Active living: 

Although we’re all given access to the campus gym for workouts it may not be as valid of an option given social distancing requirements. You can turn it up a notch and spice it up through other facilities like drop-in organized sports or virtual workout sessions. 

Intramurals and Rec Sports: 

Beginning Aug. 16, students can begin registering for their favourite sports. This is a good option as it keeps you more motivated to maintain a fitness routine rather than doing the basics of cardio and weight lifting at a traditional gym.

Virtual fitness groups: 

For those who commute to campus and are time-strapped, what better way to get moving than to participate in a virtual fitness class? There’s usually a fee but it’s so worth it compared to the conventional gym membership in which you’re mostly isolated for workouts. If you don’t want to drop cash then you can also lookout for the UCalgary Together events like stretching, yoga and exercising together where you can find community support amidst the social distancing.   

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