Resources for Students Struggling with an Assignment

I’m feeling overwhelmed with work.  What should I do?

Expert perspective: Megan Sweeney, Arthur F. Thurnau Associate Professor of English and Director of the English Department Writing Program

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Students should never feel embarrassed or ashamed if they’re struggling or feeling challenged.

Struggles and challenges are an integral part of learning, and an integral part of the writing process for every writer.

We’ve all experienced rough patches, and we’ve all struggled with our writing, and I know that there are a lot of instructors, myself included, who participate in writing groups, and we regularly go to writing

group, and say to other members of the group that, we don’t know who our audience is, we’re not sure who we’re in conversation with, we can’t seem to hone in on our central thesis, we don’t know where to

go next with our argument, and we even wonder whether our argument will have interest, or value, for other readers.

So, because we think better in dialogue with other people, when students are struggling as writers, that’s one of the most important times to reach out to their instructor.

And we as instructors never judge students for acknowledging that they’re having difficulties, or feeling challenged. We’re here to assist in precisely those situations.

Students can also correspond with other students in their class, if they have developed a sense of trust and collegiality, and there are other professors, who I know would be happy to talk somebody through a

situation of major stress or panic over a paper, but there’s always someone you can reach out to in a university setting, and it’s never a wise choice to decide to turn to dishonesty instead.

So, you can be creative in choosing the people you want to let know about your struggle, but I think it’s really important to let somebody know.

Key Takeaways:

  • Everyone experiences struggles with writing
  • We think better in dialogue with other people: as a result, times when you’re struggling are times to reach out for help
  • Instructors won’t judge you when you ask for help
  • In addition to talking to your instructor, you can talk to others, like your peers or other professors
  • There is always someone at the university you can reach out to

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What specific resources are available at the University of Michigan?

Who can help?

  • Your instructor or your syllabus (is there an extension policy? What are the consequences of turning something in late?)
  • Mentor figures: other professors, advisors, RAs, trusted peers, former teachers
  • Help yourself by reducing your course load (Can you withdraw? Take a class pass/fail? Take an incomplete?)

Where can you go?


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