Back to Succeed in College

Make it to Graduation

While college can be an exciting time to learn and explore, it can also be hard to balance demanding classes with student life on campus, as well as commitments to work and family.  Ask an adult you trust on campus for help.  You may be surprised how many programs there are to support you.


  • How do I decide which classes to take, and what do I do if some of the ones I need for my major are already full?

    Selecting classes can be incredibly daunting because of how many there are. A good start is to meet with your academic advisor to come up with a plan of action. Do you have to take core classes? If so, when is the best time? How can you stay on track to complete all the requirements for your major?  Your advisor can help you figure these things out. If some classes for your major are full, its great to be proactive and advocate for yourself. Emailing the professor, sitting in on the first class, and building a relationship with the professor are great ways to increase your chances of being added to the class.

  • I failed my last math quiz and have class during my professor’s office hours. What should I do?!

    Take a look at your syllabus to check if the professor listed other resources available for your class, such as a TA or tutor.  If not, you can email the professor with your concern about your grade and ask if he or she can meet you outside office hours.  You should also explore other campus resources – if there is not a math-specific tutoring center, go to the general learning center and sign up for an appointment for extra help! One poor grade does not mean you will not do well in the class, as long as you are proactive about seeking help to bring your grade up.

  • What should I do if I really don’t like one of my classes/professors but it is too late to drop the class?

    Unfortunately, it's very rare that every student will love every professor they have and every class they take. Unless you choose to withdraw through the Registrar’s Office, it's important to continue on in the class, and to find support systems to make it through. Find other classmates who you can work with, or other professors or tutors who can provide extra help and encouragement. For the future, keep in mind what you did and did not like about your experience in the class, so that next time you can pick classes and professors more aligned with your interests and needs.

  • How can I raise my GPA?

    It's always important to start off your semester strong!  Develop a study plan to ensure that you have enough time to complete course readings and assignments outside of class.  In addition, make time to attend professors’ office hours, and take advantage of tutoring opportunities available on campus, including those offered through the writing center.  Know what works for you when creating a study plan: if you need time to study on your own, find a quiet corner in the library; if you work best with others, don’t be afraid to form a study group with your classmates.  Finally, set concrete goals for yourself, and talk to your advisors and supporters about your efforts to improve your grades.  They can provide extra guidance and encouragement to keep you on track towards a 4.0!

  • I really need a job to make some money during the school year, but I’m also taking a lot of classes this semester, playing on the soccer team, and I’m the vice president of the Spanish club! How do I balance my time for all of this?!

    Time management is a big concern for most college students.  The first thing to do is to take a look at all of your weekly activities and estimate how much time you will need for each.  Remember to take into account time for homework, meals, commuting to and from class, and downtime with your friends; all of these things are important to maintaining a healthy balance in college.  After you have calculated the time needed for your activities, create a weekly schedule for yourself that lists the days of the week, and each hour of the day, and what you plan to do during that time.   Follow the schedule that you have created for yourself for a week; if it does not seem like it’s working, make some changes for the following week and see if it helps.  If it looks like there will not be enough time to do any one thing very well, consider dropping an activity.  Remember to prioritize class time, and homework time; this is college, and you’re here to learn before anything else.

  • Will my financial aid (federal and state grants, scholarships, work study, and loans) stay the same each year I’m in college?

    Your financial aid will be re-evaluated every year, which means that you must complete the FAFSA every year.  Each new financial aid package you receive will take into account changing school costs, new information about your family’s income and resources, as well as whether you are meeting GPA and academic progress requirements. In general, if your family’s situation remains stable, your aid should not change much. Scholarships, on the other hand, vary greatly: some may not be renewable, or may have a particular process for renewal. Students should speak to the Financial Aid Office at their school for more information. 

  • Why am I not getting all of the TAP I thought I would? I heard if you drop classes, don’t take enough credits, or get a high enough GPA this can happen – is that true?

    There are a few reasons why this might happen. To receive TAP, you must be in good academic standing, which consists of “pursuit of program” and “satisfactory academic progress.” Basically, you have to (a) get a grade in a certain percentage of classes (this means you have to be careful about withdrawing from too many classes!) and (b) maintain a minimum GPA per credits received during the semesters you receive TAP. Eligibility requirements are found here, under section g: You can view the chart to determine if you are making “satisfactory academic progress” according to TAP here:

     Another reason you might not receive a full TAP award could be if you are retaking a class that you’ve already passed. TAP requires that you have a full schedule (at least 12 credits) to be eligible for the full aid amount. If you passed the class, TAP won’t count the credits towards being full time, even if your college does. If you previously failed the class or are retaking it at a different college because your previous grade was not high enough for their academic requirements, the class will count towards being a full time student according to TAP standards.

     Yet another reason could be the courses you are taking. TAP requires that all classes be applied towards your program of study as a general education requirement, major requirement, or elective. If you are taking classes that fall outside these requirements you can either (a) change your schedule or (b) temporarily change your major to become more general or “undecided” – this is especially useful advice for freshmen.

    Also, by registering for fewer than 12 credits (including equated creditsfrom remedial classes), you are not eligible for a full-time TAP award, but may be eligible for a part time award (APTS – Aid for Part Time Study).

    A fourth reason could be that your TAP wasn’t yet processed when your college estimated your award. Once TAP is confirmed, the aid amount might be slightly different than the estimated amount. Or, it still might not be processed – by logging into your TAP account online, you can see if that’s the case and what they are missing to complete the TAP application. If you still have questions, call the HESC hotline (1-888-NYSHESC – 1-888-697-4372).

    Whatever the problem may be, check with your Financial Aid Office to see what the hold-up is – they’ll be able to help you and direct you to ways to fix it.

  • Should I study abroad?

    Studying abroad is a spectacular way to broaden your perspective. Not only will you learn a lot by studying abroad, but it looks good on your resume. However, before you decide to study abroad, look into how much it will cost and make sure you can take the classes you need for your major. Consider the strength of the study abroad program as well as the country you would like to visit and speak to your adviser before making the decision. If you get homesick, you should think carefully before choosing to study abroad; but, remember that opportunities to study abroad do not come around often. Learning a new language can prove difficult, but it will be a benefit to you in the long run.

  • I want to study abroad during college, but I’m not sure if an entire semester is a good idea for me. What are my options?

    There are a lot of study abroad options out there for all kinds of interests and comfort levels. There are semester and year-long programs as well as month-long programs, depending on your school. You can even study at another university within the U.S. if you want to stay local. If your school doesn't offer the specific program you want, you can often study abroad with partner colleges. Check out your study abroad (or advising office) for more information.

  • I’m thinking about transferring. What issues should I consider?

    If you are considering transferring, it’s important to understand the potential advantages and disadvantages of attending a different college.  Will you gain access to new degree programs?  Have the chance to live closer – or farther away from – home, or to attend a college that may be a better fit for you?  When exploring the answers to these questions, make sure you reach out to advisors and professors on your campus to discuss all your options.  It may be that your own campus has programs and resources you didn’t know about that you’ll want to pursue before you choose to transfer.  When exploring the possibility of attending a different college, it’s also important to have a clear understanding of transfer application deadlines, and to know which of your credits will transfer to the new college.  Additionally, you’ll want to find out about the cost of attendance at the colleges you’re considering, and about how your financial aid package might change.

  • How do I transfer from a community college to a 4-year college?

    If you would like to transfer from a community college to a 4-year college, visit the transfer office at your community college; this is a good place to start. Advisors at the transfer office will be able to help you explore your options and find out which of your credits will transfer to your new college. Often, the best way to transfer without losing credits is by earning an associate degree at your community college before you go elsewhere.     

  • I think I might need to take a semester off; what should I do?

    First, evaluate the reason(s) why you feel you need to take time off. If you're feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, think about paying a visit to counseling services on your campus, or talk to another advisor, mentor, friend, or family member about your challenges to find ways to cope. Keep in mind the effects of taking a semester off on your scholarships, school health insurance, class registration, and loans (most creditors provide a 6-month grace period before you have to start repaying your loans, so if you're only taking one semester off, you likely won't need to start repayment, but call and check to be sure!).

  • What is the difference between a federal and a private student loan?

    Federal student loans are funded by the government and have lower interest rates. Also, you will not have to start repaying this loan until after you graduate, leave school, or change your enrollment status to less than half-time.  Many private loans have varying interest rates and may require you to start paying them back while you are still in school.  For a really helpful table that details the differences click here:

Recommended Resources

CUNY Notable Academic Programs

WEBSITE  |  This CUNY webpage lists notable academic programs for college students. Links to opportunity, scholarship, writing, justice, leadership, language immersion, teaching, media, and transtion programs can be found on this page.  Read more  

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