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Can’t study? There’s a workshop for that!

We run a ‘Can’t Study Workshop’ at the Advice and Counselling Service for any student struggling with study concerns which might centre on emotional and psychological rather than strictly academic issues.


These workshops take place several times each term. Find out more about it and our other workshops open to all QMUL students here:

Can't study?

The workshop is for a small group of students to think together about their study struggles. We always start the workshop by saying that by the end of the time and after you have had a chance to share lots of thoughts and ideas, you will be asked to share one underlying reason why you might be struggling to study at the moment and one practical strategy that you might find it helpful to take away and try out.

Here are some possible underlying reasons that students have shared in the workshop that might make sense to you:

  1. Very often people are put off studying because they fear being criticised or judged for the work that they do. For some people it feels better not to produce any work to hand in at all, rather than produce it and risk being ‘attacked’. You could feel that any criticism you might receive of your work is a criticism of you. Maybe you feel there is little or no separation between you and the academic work you produce. You are at university to learn and to take on constructive criticism which will help you progress and develop. What you hand in doesn’t have to be perfect, just good enough to allow you to learn from the mistakes and move forward.
  2. Some people have been told for years that they have great potential. Teachers might have said it but also added, ‘If only you put in the work.’ It can be easier, if you have heard what great potential you have, not to study that hard and stay thinking, ‘That you could be great if….,’ rather than face the reality that if you do the work you might just be okay at the moment. The only way, of course, to realise your potential, is to put in the work.
  3. You might be someone who isn’t able to study because deep down, even without perhaps realising it, you just don’t want to. Maybe you feel that uni is not for you or you are doing a course that someone else (a parent perhaps) wanted you to do. At a certain level you might be understandably resentful about the studying you have to do if you haven’t freely chosen to do it. Sometimes people even think that they do want to study but can sabotage themselves without even realising it. Maybe you might be fed up making someone else proud and happy. If this sounds familiar, it might be important to acknowledge the situation and start to make some clearer choices about what you want in life.
  4. Some people find it hard to study because they fear being successful. Perhaps you have been, or have seen other people being, picked on or bullied because they have done well. Maybe you would feel guilty if things went well or you fear that someone else who might be struggling would be envious of you.
  5. Maybe if you started to study in the way that you wanted to, it might feel that your life was accelerating too fast. Some people don’t study well because they don’t want to leave uni too soon, or get a job and so move on with their life. Sometimes for very understandable reasons, they might not feel they are ready for the future after uni.
  6. Maybe you feel that studying is something that should be easy or that you should always love or feel passionately about. This is not to say that working at uni should always be a slog but it is important to realise that there will be modules that you don’t enjoy so much or things that don’t make so much sense to you. Sometimes studying is a struggle but if you can engage in that struggle, working to overcome hurdles, you will make progress.

In the next newsletter we will be revealing some of the strategies that people on the workshop have shared. In the meantime,



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