Academic Success

Academic Success

Our final week of this series will focus on the intersection of academic success and well-being. We hope to support you as you gear up for another semester of navigating academics during the COVID-19 pandemic. We recognize that this past year was extremely difficult for college students around the world and many of you are feeling ready for a fresh start. While we celebrate the start of a new year, we also hold with us the challenges and losses we faced in 2020. Many of you experienced a change in your living situation, employment opportunities, classroom settings, relationships, and so much more. As difficult as many of these unexpected changes were, we want to remind you of the resiliency and flexibility that has shined through your ability to adapt to so much in such a short amount of time. We hope that you will also recognize and celebrate this strength in yourself as you prepare for another academic semester at USD. We believe in you and are here to support you!

As you think about your academic success, it’s important to recognize how much this area intersects with your overall well-being. I’ve included a visual below that our health promotion team refers to quite often. This wheel represents our dimensions of wellness; the many factors and areas of our life that can both positively and negatively impact our sense of well-being. If at any point, you are experiencing challenges in one dimension, it’s common that this could quickly impact another dimension. An example of this might be when you are feeling under the weather – your physical health is quickly impacted by this experience which can then cause a trickle effect in your emotional and intellectual dimensions. When our physical body is struggling, it can be difficult to feel like our normal selves and to keep up with our day-to-day activities. You may notice this impacting your academic success if your attendance lowers, your ability to focus and engage in class feels strained, your motivation to complete assignments on time decreases, etc.

Even though the new year and semester ahead may hold similar challenges to the past year, we encourage you to look at this time as a fresh start and opportunity to implement new habits or routines that will support your academic success and overall well-being this year.  Our hope for this week is to share with you some helpful strategies and resources that you can utilize to re-energize and motivate yourself for the upcoming semester and new year. To get started, we’ve included a handful of tips and resources to keep in mind as you set yourself up for a successful and healthy spring semester.

Redefining “academic success” and “productivity” 

Even on a good day, finding the motivation to be productive can be difficult during a global pandemic. For some college students, schoolwork and academic success have traditionally been a top priority in their life. With all that is happening in the world right now, you may notice yourself feeling more distracted and less focused on your academic responsibilities. For other students, many experienced the “campus-life” as something that supported their academic growth and overall sense of well-being. It is understandable and totally valid if you’ve felt your priorities shift while navigating significant life changes this past year.  With that said, it is important to find new and sustainable strategies for managing your academic responsibilities amidst the change you are experiencing in your personal life.  There are many virtual resources still available to support your academic success and well-being as a USD student and we encourage you to reach out if you are looking for some additional support this year. The USD community is here to support you! We’ve outlined just a few examples below:

Academic Resources at USD:

Center for Student Success

Connect with CSS if you are looking for some additional academic support. They are best known for their wonderful student success peer coaching program. You can also find lots of helpful resources on their website including things like organizational tools, resources to support reading and test taking, remote learning strategies, and tips for managing stress and caring for your mental well-being.



Student Support Services

The SSS program provides opportunities for academic development, assists with college requirements, and serves to retain and motivate students towards the successful completion of their post-secondary education at USD. Visit their website to see if you are eligible for this wonderful program.


Tutoring Services

Take advantage of the great assortment of tutoring and advising services available through the College of Arts & Sciences & Business School.

– College of Arts & Sciences:

– Business School:

Office Hours

Take advantage of the virtual office hours that your professors offer. This is a great way to ask additional questions and receive guidance on coursework that you are struggling with. Your professors want you to succeed!

Copley Library 

Utilize the wonderful resources that our Copley Library staff offers. They are here to help get you connected with a Librarian/Subject Specialist, reserve private study space, and locate helpful and relevant resources for your academic writing and research needs. Checkout their instagram and website to learn more about how their well-trained staff can support your academic success.



You Are USD 

This website has a great collection of resources specifically catered to support your academic well-being. You can find resources on the following topics and so much more: tips for test-taking and studying, time management, strategies for fighting procrastination, and practicing healthy striving instead of perfectionism.

Student Wellness Resources

Don’t forget to familiarize yourself with the many wellness resources available to you at USD. We are offering many resources virtually right now and here to support your physical, mental, emotional, relational well-being!

As you prepare for the semester ahead, here are some gentle reminders to keep in mind as your care for your well-being.

Know that your feelings are valid.

It’s normal during this challenging time to experience feelings of indifference, anger, frustration, exhaustion, loneliness, or all of the above. Even with the start of a new year and a new semester, it’s normal if you are still experiencing feelings of burn-out and lack of motivation when it comes to your academics. You have permission to feel these emotions but it can be especially helpful to communicate these feelings with those you love and trust so that they are aware of how you are truly doing and can support you as needed. It’s also okay to sit with these emotions, practice awareness, reflect, and give yourself grace in doing so. If you notice your daily activities and overall well-being begin to feel impacted by your emotions, we highly encourage you to reach out to a mental health professional to consult on how to care for yourself and manage this moving forward. Please utilize one of the many resources mentioned below if you are looking to talk to someone for additional support.

Be patient with yourself. 

With fewer in-person classes, meetings, and appointments, you might find yourself with greater flexibility to manage how you spend your time. The absence of external structure, a schedule, or accountability can cause great distress for those who struggle with time management or intrinsic motivation. For many right now, it seems overwhelming to continually work towards your goals and do the necessary things to help yourself. This is completely understandable, and if you struggle with this, know that you are not alone. Try to be kind and patient with yourself and commit to doing your best to work on this every day.

Maintain a healthy and balanced routine.

We know virtual classes can sometimes be confusing, lack structure, and contain an overload of information in a short amount of time that students are not accustomed to. This can make it difficult to create or maintain a schedule, but it’s still just as important to maintain a sense of structure in your day-to-day life, especially while participating in remote learning. We all face different barriers and difficulties when it comes to online learning, so it’s necessary to make a schedule that best fits your needs. Try to start your day at about the same time each day. Utilize your alarm on your phone or an alarm clock to help hold you accountable for your schedule. Set goals every day or week for yourself in regards to your coursework. Incorporate healthy activities in your routine/schedule, such as eating three healthy meals per day, getting some exercise and fresh air, getting an adequate amount of sleep, etc. All of these practices that benefit your mental health and physical well-being will also help support your academic success.

Take time for yourself.

Take time for yourself each day to practice self care. It’s especially important that you carve out time in your remote learning schedule for regular breaks away from your screens, to stretch, go for a walk, and nourish your body. Scheduling in time to engage in healthy habits like eating nourishing meals, taking naps, moving your body, getting fresh air, and connecting with loved ones are all wonderful examples for how to support your well-being and maintain some balance and energy to succeed academically.

Most importantly, we want to remind you that your self worth is not determined by your grades and that it is completely normal and ok if you feel you are struggling to perform at the same level you have done in the past. We encourage you to practice self-compassion and reach out to one of the many resources available to support you at USD. Accepting and asking for help is an important first step in caring for your well-being and managing the many responsibilities that come along with your role as a student. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need additional support or are concerned about a friend or peer right now. We are always here to support you and our USD community.

Talk to someone now: