What To Do When Disaster Strikes Your College or University Record

Academic Appeals: When Life Throws You a Curve Ball

I want to share with you something that very few students hear about until they actually need it. I’m talking about an academic appeal, something you hope you are never in a position to need. But should the situation arise, I want you to benefit from my experience working on the inside of the university system for many years. This knowledge will equip you with the information you will need to successfully submit your appeal.


Each year, thousands of young people set out to pursue college and university studies with every intention of doing well. For some of these students, despite their best efforts, life throws them a curve ball.

I’m not talking about the everyday life challenges like a strained relationship with your boyfriend or girlfriend or when your car breaks down on the way to school or the regret you had by taking on a much heavier course load than you should have. Instead, I’m referring to those exceptional circumstances that are beyond your control and have significant impact on your overall academic performance.

What constitutes exceptional?

Here are a few examples:

1. lengthy illness that incapacitates you for an extended period of time

2. recently diagnosed or recurrent illness

3. death in your immediate family

4. unexpected and grave financial problem (i.e theft of household belongings or loss of your house in a fire)

5. unexpected surgery

6. relapse from a diagnosed addiction or compulsive behaviour (gambling, alcohol, drugs, to name a few)

7. recently diagnosed learning disability

8. harm that was done to you (e.g. an assault)

9. other traumatic event

If you can identify with any of these examples you should investigate the academic appeal process at your college or university. Most institutions allow students who have experienced such exceptional circumstances to submit an appeal. Although the rules and regulations vary institution to institution, generally speaking there are common guidelines that each of them subscribes to.

For more information about academic appeals or how to succeed at college or university, check our my new ebook called Crush IT at College.

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For one-on-one advice, book an appointment with your personal Academic Advisor.

Secret to Great Grades: Tip #3 - Hang Out With Other Hard Working Students

Up until now you’ve probably hung out with students who do as well as you do. Or, you are hanging out with students who intend to do well but never carry it out. These ‘friends’ may be nice people but they may not be a positive influence on your academic record.

You have two choices. Cut them off or keep them at a distance. You don’t have to be rude about it and it doesn’t mean they aren’t your friends anymore. It just means that you are taking charge of your own academic affairs.

Now, you need to zone in on the hard working students (because they usually do quite well) and befriend them. If your pride gets in the way, then you have to go back to your first objective: I will do anything to get great grades. Dave Ramsey, the financial radio guru, has a saying: if you want to be rich, do the things rich people do. To Crush IT at college, do the things “A” students do.

Secret to Great Grades: Tip #2 - Attend 100% of Your Classes

Attending 80% of your classes isn’t good enough. Attending 90% of your classes isn’t good enough. If this shocks you, good! After meeting with 8,000 students I can tell you for a fact that nothing short of 100% class attendance should be acceptable in your eyes. Besides, why would you pay for something you aren’t going to use? The truth is that professors cover too much material and move too quickly for you to miss any classes. Take charge and attend all of your classes.


Furthermore, if you are an auditory learner, attend a second or third time. What do I mean? Every laptop has a very good microphone on it, so record the lecture. If you want to get even more sophisticated, you can use the MS Word notebook feature which syncs the audio with your note-taking.

You can do the same with an iPad app like Notability will sync the audio with your notes as well. If you want to get even more sophisticated and combine hand-written notes with capturing audio AND making your notes digital, purchase a LiveScribe SmartPen; it syncs your hand-written notes with live audio, and then digitizes your hand-written notes and sticks them into Evernote. (Wow!)

Great more great advice like this. Contact your Academic Advisor today!

Secret to Great Grades: Tip #1 - Train Like an Athlete

Many students have confessed to me that they do well on everything in their courses but their exams. There are three main reasons to explain this:

1.    College and university level courses have far more weight placed on the final exam than high school classes.

2.     High school students are not used to comprehensive exams, that is, where an entire term or year of material is tested.

3.     Secondary school tests use regurgitation to measure understanding whereas college and university examinations use comprehension and analysis to measure a student’s understanding of the material.

As a result, students are not properly trained for their final exams. What is the trick to doing well on exams? The answer is train like an athlete. 


An athlete looks at the long-term goal and establishes a routine and discipline to accomplish that goal. For a university or college student this is achieved by fulfilling these steps:

  • Commit time (a minimum of 2 hours of study for every hour of lecture).
  • Commit to 100% class attendance.
  • Strive for 100% completion of the class readings.

Begin to build your level of concentration to mimic an exam setting. You can’t expect to concentrate during a three hour exam if you haven’t trained for it. Increasing your ability to concentrate for long periods of time takes practice. Start your training early in your academic career and you will be pleasantly surprised how good of shape your brain is when it comes to the final exam.

So if you start your training in the first month of your first term of your first year, lay a solid foundation, be consistent in your work ethic, and commit to the training model, you will find yourself one step closer to academic success.

Great more great advice like this. Contact your Academic Advisor today!

The Low Down on Student Debt – How Far in The Hole Are You Willing to Go?

Pay for Courses When You Can Afford Them

One of the best ways to avoid student debt is to pay for courses as you can afford them. Many students overlook this option for three reasons:

1.    It will take you longer to complete your studies.

2.    It can be frustrating to have to put your future career on hold.

3.    The perceived loss of income – the money you would have otherwise earned had you completed your studies on a full-time basis.


While there are advantages of completing a program on a full-time basis there is also the reality of the interest you will have to pay on the total debt. In the end, it becomes a cost-benefit analysis for each student. There’s no question that pursuing courses as you can afford them will leave you debt free or with a significantly reduced debt load.

Balancing work and school is more important than you may think. In an effort to graduate debt free and complete their program in a normal time frame, many students make the mistake of working too many hours while maintaining a high course load. This often has dire consequences. The most notable consequence is the rate at which students burn out. Burnout can result in poor academic performance, even failure, and consequently the need to repeat courses. In many cases, students pay to repeat failed courses by working as many or even more hours than they were before. This cycle often continues until graduation.

In the end, these students graduated debt free but they have also:

  • worked far more hours and paid more tuition while failing and recording many low grades because of a lack of balance between work and school
  • compromised the integrity of their academic record and unintentionally limited their admission to professional and graduate studies
  • put their mental and physical health at risk

Students who decide to work while attending school need to accept the possibility of taking longer to complete their program while maintaining their academic record, their bank account and their mental health.

Call our Academic Advisors for more great advice!