University of Minnesota

Academic Difficulty

Identifying the Problem

A student in academic difficulty may come to your attention in a number of different ways such as a student coming to your office hours complaining about difficulty with course content, your sending out a mid-semester warning to a student, or your becoming aware that the performance of an otherwise good student is dropping markedly.

Before assuming that a student does not care about how (s)he is performing academically, keep in mind that there are many causes of academic difficulty including:

  • Difficulty with course material
  • Low motivation
  • Diagnosed or undiagnosed disability issues (Attention Deficit Disorder, Learning Disability)
  • Fatigue from life pressures or lifestyle (long work hours, excessive partying)
  • Mental health concerns (depression, anxiety etc.)
  • Family or personal concerns interfering with concentration

How to Respond:

While it is nice if a student initiates a conversation with you about academic difficulties, many students appreciate an instructor taking the initiative to express concerns to a student. Basic statements such as "I notice you did not do well on your last test" or "It looks like this class is not going so well for you. Would you like to come to office hours and discuss how things might go better for you in this class?" can help begin a dialogue with the student. Faculty may be able to help a student with content-related difficulty. The resources below can assist students in improving general academic skills.

University Resources:

  1. Learning & Academic Skills Center,
    University Counseling & Consulting Services

    109 Eddy Hall (services also available in 199 Coffey Hall, St. Paul campus)
    Phone: 612-624-3323
  2. Student Academic Success Services
    227 Lind Hall
    Phone: 612-626-7579
  3. Tutoring, Institute of Technology
    128 Lind Hall
    Phone: 612-624-2890

    One-to-one tutoring is available in by appointment. Appointments are 25 minutes long (two slots per class hour). Call One-to-one tutoring is also available in 150 Lind Hall (the Taylor Undergraduate Academic Center) on a walk-in basis.

  1. Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence
    185 Klaeber Court
    320 16th Avenue SE
    Phone: 612-624-6386

    Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence (MCAE) develops culturally sensitive, practical and supportive relationships with its diverse students and provides personal and cultural academic programs in an effort to help facilitate their maximal academic and career development.

  2. The Student Conflict Resolution Center
    211 Eddy Hall
    Phone: 612-624-7272

    The Student Conflict Resolution Center works with students to resolve campus-based problems or concerns. Services include information, coaching, intervention, advocacy, outreach and education.

Twin Cities Campus: