Getting Back on Track after “College Chaos”

Many factors may result in a suboptimal college year or years. In extreme circumstances, these factors operate in concert to produce an academic or social/emotional “crash and burn” event. In these “college chaos” situations, students may shut down, give up on their work, and/or sense that their schools have given up on them. Getting back on track after chaotic periods of time is a nuanced and multistep process. In our experience, meaningful and effective reparative work first and foremost requires a frank understanding of the student’s attentional vulnerabilities, learning differences and underlying social/emotional maturity. Examining these factors often helps explain why the student’s school may have been a poor fit and may help identify which types of colleges or universities may better meet his or her needs. In addition, it may allow families to determine the level and extent of preparation students require to succeed in new academic settings.

At Individual U., we have developed an innovative approach to helping students get back on track following stressful or unsuccessful experiences in college. Students enrolled in our Getting on Track after “College Chaos” Program work one-on-one with our team of mentors to understand and address vulnerabilities in their academic and executive function skill sets. This work frequently entails remediation of students’ underlying abilities in core content areas so that they may, for example, improve in math skills, strengthen their written abilities, and identify research strategies and methods for effective communication of ideas. Individual U.’s focus on executive function also allows us to examine and address foundational vulnerabilities in organization, planning, self-monitoring, and a number of other core tasks necessary for success in all academic areas.

This level of work is particularly critical as high school and college advisors throughout the nation note the lack of preparedness of many students entering undergraduate institutions. Each year, many freshmen arrive at campuses with significant gaps in their understanding of academic content and critical vulnerabilities in fundamental executive function strategies. Others, meanwhile, have learning issues that remain undiagnosed or unremediated.

At Individual U., mentors work with these college students to help develop strategies that grow out of their unique learning profiles. We help them identify approaches and tools that may be implemented in new college settings, and sometimes work with students to explore and evaluate potential college options. Furthermore, in those cases where students may require significant remediative work and choose to defer reentry to college settings, Individual U. offers ongoing academic and executive function mentoring support.