Encountering and Overcoming Princeton’s Academic Challenges: Stories From Learning Consultants

Some of the 2019 Learning Consultants in front of the McGraw Center

A few of McGraw Learning Consultants in 2019 - L-R Standing: Angela Yang, Mason Cox, Hazel Lee; L-R Seated: Gaby Serra, Tiffany Pham, Sera Gorucu, Chris Lawrie

Photo by: Princeton University, McGraw Center, Wanda Holovacs (2019)

Princeton is hard academically. Some students encounter that difficulty in their first semester. For others they encounter it later when they take more courses, or classes on unfamiliar topics with little foundation, or for other reasons. But, for all students Princeton is hard. Even Princeton students awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, like Nicolette D’Angelo will need to embrace and adapt to Princeton’s academic challenges. She recalls calling her mother “during my first year of college, in tears, to say that I was finding my courses too difficult, that I feared I would never be able to succeed at a school like Princeton.” By facing these challenges directly and striving to adjust their approaches and adapt to Princeton's rigorous academics,  students build the learning skills, strategies, and mindsets that contribute to their academic success in future courses and independent work and in their endeavors beyond Princeton.

That fear is understandable and at times can be paralyzing. Sometimes we know something is wrong or isn’t working, but don’t know how to fix it. Reflecting upon what’s working, what isn’t, talking with others, and brainstorming solutions can be difficult and time-consuming—and requires courage. But, usually that’s what’s needed to meet a challenge and overcome it. How do students learn HOW to respond to and overcome these challenges? By using McGraw and other resources on campus and learning from the students who have preceded them. You can learn from a learning consultant who faced challenges like the ones you are encountering. Look at the titles below for stories relevant to you.

McGraw’s learning consultants responded to the following prompt with the vignettes below: What is an academic challenge you faced at some point in your career at Princeton, and how did you respond to it?