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Falling behind


As a student, you have many responsibilities: attending your classes, doing the study required and completing your assessments. You also need to look after yourself and dedicate time to your life outside of your studies – you might have a job, family commitments or extra-curricular activities in your busy schedule.

You might feel overwhelmed by all the tasks you need to complete. And if you don’t complete some things on time, or your schedule starts to become too full, it might feel like you’re falling behind.

Falling behind in your studies can mean missing classes, not doing the required preparation for a unit, or failing to complete an assessment. You can easily get back on track if you recognise what's happening early and make some changes to your routine.

But it can quickly become a bigger problem if you don’t do anything about it. You might consider ‘giving up’ completely because there is so much to do.

What to do

You might be falling behind because you are anxious or stressed about attending class, low in confidence about your abilities, or have so much on your plate that prioritising things is difficult. It's also possible that you're not getting enough sleep or looking after yourself properly (eating healthy food and moving your body regularly), making it difficult to concentrate.

Try and make some changes to your schedule and your mindset, such as:

  • setting some small goals for the week ahead, like attending your classes in person
  • refreshing your study schedule, setting aside time each week for all your commitments, plus leisure time
  • making the most important things your priority, such as submitting an assessment on time, rather than achieving a perfect score
  • adjusting your lifestyle – aim for 8 hours of sleep each night and going for a short walk each day.

A ‘catch-up plan’ designed to get you back on track might be helpful. You could give it a go over the course of a week to try and make the most of the remainder of the study period.

Getting support

When you’re starting to feel like you’re falling behind, book an appointment with a Deakin counsellor. They can help you identify what your barriers to study are, and give you some coping strategies, whether you need help with confidence, organisation or your mental health. They can also support you if you’re struggling with something in your personal life.

You could also:

  • speak to a student adviser at Student Central about enrolment-related queries, such as repeating or withdrawing from a unit or reducing your study load.
  • let your unit chair know if you feel like you are not keeping up with the required course readings or have specific questions about the course content. You can also discuss the possibility of an extension with them.
  • get in touch with Study Support for assignment-related help.

If you’re dealing with a short-term, unexpected set-back, you can apply for special consideration.

More help and advice

Organise your week by scheduling in time for work, study, fun and rest using our weekly planner.

ReachOut has advice on how to nail your study-life balance.

You can also read some tips on how to study smarter, not harder.

Last updated:
Page custodian: Student Services