Struggling with your study?
What you can do if you're struggling with your study.
Common reasons for having trouble with your study
The course content or type
Issues may be that:
- the course is more difficult than you thought, and you're having trouble keeping up (or maybe the course is too easy).
- the course isn't what you thought – for example, more theoretical than you had thought
- you've lost interest in the subject or changed your mind about the career you want to pursue
- the style of assessment doesn't suit you, and you're having trouble meeting the requirements.
What to consider:
- Is it the whole course or just one aspect of it that you don't like?
- Is it the course assessments that are a problem? Would you suit a different learning style better?
- Is this the best course for you at the moment?
- Five students talk about how they cope when they're struggling with their studies (Video - 2:27 mins)
It can be difficult to make ends meet as a student. Ask yourself:
- Is this the only way to get the qualification you're after - or can you do it through workplace training or an apprenticeship?
- Would you be able to some part-time work?
- Can you get any financial support that is available? Contact StudyLink to find out.
- Could you qualify for any scholarships or awards?
- Can you live at home while you study, or try a less expensive accommodation option, such as boarding?
- is there a student finance or budget adviser at your institution? They can help you with a budget and can assist with urgent or hardship difficulties.
Other problems students may have
Issues may be:
- feeling homesick or missing family and friends
- feeling worn down from doing too many things - study, part-time work, social activities etc
- not liking the tertiary education provider you've chosen (too big, too small, the accommodation isn't what you thought etc).
There are many personal issues you can face while studying. Ask yourself:
- Are you still adjusting to your new life? Do you just need to give yourself more time?
- Do you need to find a better balance between your study and sports/interests/social activities?
- Can you get help or support from others?
- Would you feel better if you were living closer to friends or family?
Get help from the education provider or people you trust
Whatever struggle you're facing, there is always someone to help you. Depending on your problem, you can try some of the people or organisations below:
- Careers office at your education provider - they can help you think through your options so you can make a fully informed decision.
- Lecturers/tutors - let them know about any issues affecting you. They may be able to organise extra support and advice, such as tutorials, to help you stay on track.
- Student services centre - offer a wide range of support services, from help with study skills to advice on finances and accommodation. Many have a student counselling service that offers free and confidential advice.
- Family and friends - besides being able to offer you support and make you feel better, friends and family may have contacts in the job or industry that you are interested in, or be able to help with work experience or career pathway ideas.
- StudyLink - can help you with student allowances, student loans, information on scholarships and extra financial help while you’re studying.
What are your other options?
Take some time out from study
If you have been working hard for two or three years at secondary school, you may have trouble staying motivated when you move into tertiary study.
If you are finding it difficult to stay interested in your course work, or to complete assessments, taking time out may be a good option. It can give you a chance to recharge by doing something completely different - such as work or travel, and/or let you build up your skills.
Give it some more time
Moving into tertiary study is a big change, and it can take some time to adjust. Make sure you give yourself enough time to adjust before you make any decision about switching track or pulling out of your course.
What can help:
- Joining up with some groups on campus - making contacts can help you feel more at home.
- Asking yourself, "Am I doing too much?" Maybe you need to cut back on some activities to make time for your course work - or just to have some time to relax.
- Talking to relevant people on campus - course tutors/lecturers, the campus career adviser or counsellor may be able to help you think through your options, and make suggestions to help you work out what to do.
Explore other options
If you've given your course a good go, and found it's not right for you, it's time to look at your options. These will vary depending on your issue with your course or study in general, so take a look at the options below to see if any can help you.
- Switch to a different course or a different provider - if you didn't like the tertiary provider or the course content, you may still want to be in tertiary study, just not in the same course/place.
- Consider workplace training - if you're having trouble paying for study or if you're not enjoying the study itself, workplace training may be worth exploring.
- Look for part-time or full-time work - getting a job can help you with career choices later on. Getting experience in a job may help you realise that yes, you do want to work in a particular field. Or it could tell you the opposite, and give you extra motivation to return to study to train. No matter what happens, you'll be learning something more to help you on your career journey.
- Take another look at yourself, your skill and your work values.
Find out more
Careers New Zealand website
Updated 10 Jan 2017