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Campus Overload
Posted at 03:07 PM ET, 08/16/2011

#College101: Don’t fall behind on attendance or assignments

Today’s guest blogger is Marianne S. Huger, the assistant dean of students at American University. Huger works with students with significant medical, mental health, socialization or academic needs to ensure that they receive appropriate interventions and support.

"Jane" put off an assignment and then decided not to go to class because she felt guilty for not having completed her work. She vowed to finish the assignment by the next class. However, she was still behind on her reading, so she decided to miss the next one in hopes of getting caught up. Having missed a few classes, she found it hard to complete subsequent assignments. Then, Jane decided not to go to office hours because she felt guilty and didn't want to bother her professor.
Marianne S. Huger

Jane's story is unfortunately common, especially for new students adjusting to a new environment. For many students, what starts as one missed class or assignment may snowball into a serious attendance or academic problem. In college, unlike high school, no one keeps tabs every day on Jane (or Johnny).

The students I meet with often feel trapped in this cycle. Missing a month of class and work, "just ended up happening." No one explicitly decides to, or wants to, fail, but an aversion to facing issues inevitably leads to failure. Acknowledging that you've messed up takes courage — but it is a necessary step.

Don't become paralyzed by guilt, avoidance and self-doubt. Talk to an academic advisor, dean, professor or resident adviser. Be honest with them. I promise, they won't be mad, ground you or send you to bed without your supper.

We want you to succeed; we are all on the same team.

We will listen and start problem-solving with you. Those of us who work on college campuses are natural problem solvers; it is what we do best. But we can't solve problems of which we are unaware.

There is always a path to success, and I promise you it’s not paved with avoidance.

Every day in August, Campus Overload will feature a 300-word-or-less essay centered around one piece of #College101 advice for the Class of 2015. To participate, e-mail Jenna at

By Marianne S. Huger  |  03:07 PM ET, 08/16/2011

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