Tips for Students Having Trouble Learning in Classroom Settings


Students often struggle when they first get to college! A number of changes, including increased work expectations and changes in living arrangements, can make coursework difficult even for those who previously excelled in class. Read on for some ideas about how to approach the situation if you are struggling in the classroom environment.

Take Advantage of University Resources

Students who are struggling to learn in a classroom setting should be sure to take advantage of typical university resources. Many students face challenges while attempting to excel in the classroom, particularly during the transition to college, and systems may be in place to ensure your success. Some common resources include:

Faculty Office Hours

Most universities require faculty members who are teaching courses to hold regularly scheduled office hours. This is time when a professor is available to students outside of the classroom. These hours are a great opportunity for students to get to know professors on an individual basis and to seek out support for their classwork.


At many colleges, students have the opportunity to meet with an academic advisor. These can either be professionals who focus upon developmental advising, or professors who take on an advisor role. Collaborative sessions can help students plan their academic program and get the most out of classes in which they are enrolled.

Tutoring Center

Those who are struggling with class content may think about making an appointment at the university tutoring center. Typically free to enrolled students, university tutoring centers may offer one-on-one sessions, small groups, or walk-in homework help. Tutors may be peers who have done very well in certain classes, or professional tutors holding a degree in the subject area.

Choose Classes With a Hands-On Component

One way for students who struggle with learning in a classroom setting to get the most out of their educational experience is to seek courses with a hands-on component. Learn more about some specific types of hands-on courses below.

Lab Science Courses

Many science courses, including biology, chemistry, physics, and astronomy involve a weekly laboratory component where students will have the opportunity to engage in the application of the material they have learned through the academic course. Seeing concrete examples may help you to fully understand the material introduced in the academic work.

Service Learning Courses

Another option is to choose courses that involve a service learning component instead of taking place only in the classroom. These types of courses not only provide for hands-on learning, but can help students make connections in the community, learn about diversity, and develop critical thinking skills. Service learning courses can be offered at a wide variety of departments at a university, including agriculture, education, and English.


Some students may be able to earn academic credit for securing an internship that aligns with their academic major. There may be a class that students attend concurrently with the internship to process and discuss issues that arise in the course of the internship. These internships can improve your marketability when seeking a job and could also provide networking within the field of the internship.

Gain Some Credits Through Credit By Exam Programs

Students who struggle with learning in a classroom setting may wish to gain some credits and make progress towards their degree through participation in credit by exam programs. These programs allow students to take exams in order to demonstrate knowledge of a subject matter, thereby reducing the number of credits that must be earned in a classroom setting. Students can take tests in many subjects, including biology, psychology, and history. Several types of credit by exam programs are available. Check out the links below to learn more about credit by exam programs and review some helpful study guides and practice tests that can assist your preparation.

Be sure to check with your university regarding what types of credit by exam are accepted and to find out if there is a maximum number of credits that can be awarded towards your degree.

Look Into Online Learning

If you're having difficulty with learning in the classroom, online learning may provide an option for earning additional credits. Many universities offer some online classes, or hybrid courses, which combine online and classroom-based experiences.

Consider a Psychoeducational Assessment or Accommodations

If you are struggling with learning in the classroom setting, one avenue to consider pursuing may be obtaining a psychoeducational assessment. For college students with an undiagnosed learning disability or ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), the increase in cognitive demands could make learning increasingly challenging. A psychoeducational evaluation will involve a battery of tests designed to target any learning challenges and provide strategies and recommended accommodations to help you succeed.

If you've already been diagnosed with a learning difference, be sure to contact the Disability Services office at your college or university. They can help you to gain appropriate accommodations that may increase your success in classes.

What are Credit Hours in College?

Students interested in learning about the concept of credit hours can read this article, which provides information about what college credit hours are, how they are earned, and a few different types of credit hours.

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