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.

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

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!

Interest is the #1 Ingredient for Academic Success

When I ask students what they believe to be the number one ingredient for academic success, no one ever mentions interest. The ingredients for academic success students suggested most often are:

  • strong time management skills
  • hard work
  • good class attendance
  • good study skills
  • solid organizational skills

While these are important ingredients for success, I would place them in a distant 4th place relative to the critical importance of interest.


Lack of interest is the most obvious and least discussed cause of poor academic performance. After meeting with more than 8,000 university students one-on-one at every year level and in every conceivable academic program, I would say that a lack of interest accounts for almost all academic struggles and failures. Now I’m not talking about a lack of interest in a course, program, or even degree. Students regularly make changes to their academic career to either investigate an interest or to better reflect a known interest in a particular subject. What I’m talking about is a lack of interest in studying at university.

If you think that would be uncommon, I challenge you to read the abundance of literature that points to academic disengagement. Universities across the country are establishing new research centres for student engagement, expanding student support services, hiring high-priced consultants to fix retention problems, and paying top dollar to support staff to work with students who continually struggle. Because it is impossible for the system to increase your interest, they are left with trying to fix everything else.

Universities are moving at lightening speed on this issue for two simple reasons: the first is that they are being held to a greater account today by taxpayers for the percentage of students they successfully graduate. The other reason is that the problem of academic disengagement, failing students, and ultimately drop-out rates has grown exponentially.

If you lack the kind of interest I’m referring to, my advice has always been to immediately withdraw from university studies before you invest more money, potentially sink into more debt, and further damage your academic record.

Instead, consider community college. It takes a lot less time to complete than a full fledged degree. It's cheaper. And finally, it equips you with job ready skills for the marketplace.

Have similar questions about academic success? Contact us today.