Office of Academic Services

Staying on the Road to Your Success at SAS


You are here!

Regardless of your academic performance, whether you have a gpa of 3.4 or 1.4, the transition to college is difficult for all students. However, sometimes the transition is more difficult for some students than others and can lead to self-doubt, denial, discouragement, poor academic performance and under achieving your potential. Whether you are a student new to Rutgers or a seasoned veteran on the banks of the Raritan, many students occasionally experience some academic difficulty. 

You’re not the only one!

Many students often report time management, lack of academic preparation, feeling overwhelmed, and social adjustment issues as culprits contributing to a poor transition and academic performance. For others, selecting or gaining acceptance to a major, the increasing demand of more difficult major courses/degree requirements and preparation for post graduate pursuits creates additional pressure. Quite often these problems are exacerbated by more serious issues such as family problems, illness, finances and emotional/mental health that can threaten to become a chronic hindrance to academic achievement if they remain unaddressed.

You may have encountered academic trouble for many reasons both academic and non-academic. Sometimes a problem is very obvious, such as relying on high school/former college study strategies that do not suit the demands of SAS.  Sometimes a problem is not so obvious, such as an undiagnosed learning disability, substance abuse, or depression. At the first sign of trouble, you may have assumed you would rebound on the next exam, or you may not have known what to do or who to talk to until it was too late only to be faced with the academic consequences of failing to take action.

It does not have to be this way for you!


RU Ready for change?

In order to make positive change there are several beliefs you must hold firm in your mind.

  • You must believe you are capable of changing NOW! –Regardless of your current situation you have the capacity and ability make any changes you feel are appropriate.
  • You must also believe that if you are going to create long-term change in your life, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE! Nobody else is going to do it for you! – It is your decision, your motivation, your action!
  • You must believe that if that if you set your sights in a new direction, and then move confidently in that direction, you will successfully arrive near the place you wanted to go.
  • You must be certain that your values determine your actions and behaviors. You may not be clear about what you value, but your choices are dependent on what you feel is most important to you. In other words, all decision making is based on values clarification - Author Unknown

“Changing behavior is hard not because you are weak
but because you are blind to and outnumbered
by the many sources of influence
that are shaping your choices.”
– Joseph Grenny, “The Influencer”

Assessing the Problem – Turn on your GPS!GPS

Just because you are down does not mean you are out. One bad grade, one bad semester, or a few for that matter do not have to be the end of you!  Whether you aren’t performing as well as you had hoped to, have been placed on warning, probation, or are facing an academic dismissal, your difficulties will probably continue if you do not get to the root of the problem. If you are ready to turn things around though, then you will need to begin by identifying what is tripping you up.  

You can begin by taking an honest inventory of your difficulties. By doing so you are laying the foundation for a future plan of action.  Your current difficulties are temporary if you allow them to be. Consider the following then take some time to fill out the Academic Checklist below:

Anthony Robbins, in his book Awaken the Giant Within, describes what commonly happens when people don’t take a good look at who they are and where they are going. He calls it the "Niagara Syndrome" and it goes like this:

"…Life is like a river, and most people jump on the river of life without ever really deciding where they want to end up. So, in a short period of time, they get caught up in the current: current events, current fears, and current challenges. When they come to forks in the river, they don't consciously decide where they want to go, or which direction is right for them. They merely "go with the flow." They become a part of the mass of people who are directed by the environment instead of by their own values. As a result, they feel out of control. They remain in this unconscious state until one day the sound of the raging water awakens them and they discover that they are 5 feet from Niagara Falls in a boat with no oars. At this point, all they can say is, "oh, shoot!" But by then it's too late. They are going to take a fall. Sometimes it's an emotional fall. Sometimes it's a physical fall. Sometimes it's a financial fall. It is likely that whatever challenges you have in your life currently could have been avoided by some better decisions upstream." (Robbins 41-42).

SAS Academic Checklist

Be confident and begin again with the end in mind

REMEMBER! As an SAS student you share relatively the same academic profile and pre-Rutgers history of academic achievement as your SAS classmates. So be reassured that you already have the competence, capabilities and potential necessary to succeed at Rutgers. We would not have offered you admission if you did not. This does not mean there are not skills and knowledge that must be acquired and practiced. Rather, it means that you recognize how much hard work there is to do, accept that it will be challenging and believe you are prepared to meet the challenge. But you must believe that you can succeed!   


It is your choice!

While your academic profile may be similar to your classmates, your choices WILL differ greatly. Having so many choices can be a burdensome privilege. No matter what opportunities or adversities challenge you along the way, your choices will ultimately determine how successful you are! Your education is not a mandate by law like high school was. You have chosen to attend Rutgers, so it is important that you remember this as you go forward as it may provide the motivation you need when you need it most.  Fork in the Road

Food for thought: An anecdote from Dean Anderson

On one occasion, when I was about 24, I was jogging. I was nearing the end of a fairly long run. I was feeling very good as the endorphins were cruising and second wind was well in place. I was at that place where I felt like I could jog forever. I wasn't really thinking of anything in particular when suddenly an overwhelming thought occurred to me. It sounded something like this, "Damn! This is my life I am living here! My life is nobody else’s to live. I can only live this life and all I will ever have is my life. But when I go along with the crowd, I'm not living my life. When I follow the direction that my parents, my teachers, my coaches think is best for me, I am not living my own life. My life is mine to choose. And if I don't start choosing, it's going to pass me by.” I knew then and there that I did not want to come to the end of my life and think that I had settled for mediocrity; that I had gotten so caught up in the day-to-day stuff that I had lost all awareness of what was really important to me. I did not want my final words, when it was time to depart from this life, to be, "if only."

I warn you. Look at every path closely and deliberately.
Try it as many times as you think necessary.
This question is one that only a very old man asks …
Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good;
if it doesn’t, it is of no use. – Carlos Castaneda

Now answer the following questions: (This will take some time and reflection, so don’t rush this.)

  • Why did you choose Rutgers?
  • How do you want your life to be changed by choosing to pursue a higher education?
  • What actions will you have to take, what skills will you have to build, and what behaviors will you need to change to realize the success you seek?

If you want to succeed, DO talk to strangers! 

If you want to increase your success, then start talking to as many different people as you can. This is one of the ways top students increase their success. Understand that information seeking extends beyond the classroom. It includes work experiences, extracurricular activities, internships, dorm life, the rec center, financial aid, health centers, study abroad, etc. Opportunity is all around you. If you are planning to make big comeback, then start by seeking our advising from your Deans, Faculty, Advisers, Career Specialists, Financial Aid counselors, Health Services, Classmates, etc. By making the effort to communicate with the professionals here to support your success early and often you  won’t be a stranger anymore and you may find an ally or advocate in the most unexpected place.

Allies & Advocates…- By Jean Gantz

  • To STAND OUT from the crowd you must surround yourself with great people. Do you have people in your life who will be honest with you, support you, go to bat for you and help you succeed? The people who fit this category are your advocates and allies, and they are absolutely invaluable to your success.
  • Advocates and allies will stop you when you’re headed in the wrong direction, let you know when you’ve gone too far, offer helpful criticism when needed and influence you in a positive way. In today’s uncertain world, having people around you who can help you achieve your goals is a definite advantage.
  • How good are you at building and maintaining these strong and supportive relationships? If your list of advocates and allies has only one name on it (and it’s your mom) you need to work on your relationship building skills! Advocates and allies can be found everywhere, in all departments, divisions, branches and teams. They can be your customers, co-workers, colleagues, leaders or followers.
  • Your [classmate} may be an ally, but he/she may not be there forever (or may already be gone). You never know who will be in a position to fight for you, so never miss an opportunity to make an ally, even if you don’t perceive that person to currently be in a position of power. The person you work alongside today could be the person you report to tomorrow.
  • In our highly competitive world where people often have to fight to be noticed and recognized, remember this: You don’t choose your advocates. They choose you. Are you the kind of person others believe in enough to offer guidance, help, strength and encouragement when you need it the most? Do people stand by you in difficult times? Do you get help when you ask for it?
  • If you’re not satisfied with your answers, you can still do something about it. Supportive relationships don’t magically appear when you need them. They must be cultivated and continually nurtured. People are watching to see how you live your life, do your job, communicate, treat people, handle change, deal with stress, negotiate, cope with difficult people and work with a team. Based on their observations over time, they can choose to support you – or not. When you make the right choices you will STAND OUT as the person they are proud to know and support.

When you lose your way, ask for directions!

It is as simple as using the resources available to you at Rutgers. You do not need to be embarrassed because you failed a test, are financially stressed, or aren’t feeling well. Pride, independence, or lack of knowledge is never a good reason to not ask for help if you need it. We will not think less of you or your intelligence. All of your advisers have been through college. We are not here to judge you. We are here to help you reach the goals you set for yourself when you chose Rutgers. Let the information from the academic checklist you completed and your answers to the questions above be your road map to the help you want and need. Rutgers Academic Standing staff and the Office of Academic Services are here to help get you back on the road to your success!  



It is not how many times you fall down; it is how many times you get up that will determine your success.


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