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Some people have different goals. You can’t change a person’s goals. Don’t expect to change their behavior. Image Source

The hardest person to change is yourself… except for everyone else. This weeks question is about trying to help friends help themselves:

I have a couple friends that have been screwing up in college. They do almost no school work for long periods of time but then spend days working like crazy to try and catch up on their overdue stuff. They’re always partying and drinking before big tests. I want to help them out. I’ve tried to teach them ways to study to speed everything up but I just can’t get through to them. Any advice?

Yes. To start: be ready to stop worrying about helping your friends out of this rut. You can’t change other people. Many students drive themselves into this hole in college. Given their first chance at personal responsibility they bomb. This hole usually isn’t a major concern. (If they’re actually getting addictions or other long-term health risks then it might be. If they’re just slacking and partying a bit then it’s usually not a huge problem long term.)

It’s good to worry about your friends but there is only so much you can do.

The first thing you should do, I’m betting, you have already done. You need to talk to these people about your concerns. After you tell them about your concerns, unless they explicitly ask for help, there isn’t all that much you can do.

The second thing you should do is step back, stay away from them, and, maybe once or twice, be there to help them if they decide they need help.

No matter how hard you try to make the case that they’re being stupid, you won’t change them. In fact, many studies have shown trying to change someone’s mind with evidence tends to solidify their previous beliefs even more. So… if you try to convince them the partying will destroy their grades, they’ll just believe more thoroughly that partying has had no negative effect.

This blog is intended to help students study. I try to make the study advice as easy to comply with as possible (or I include some kind of disclaimer saying otherwise.) I do that because getting people to make a small change in their study habits is reasonable. To try to get a person that already studies to study a little more or less is easy. To try and get a person that hardly ever studies to study regularly is waaay harder.

Your friends have a list of problems that need to be solved. They party when they should probably be sleeping. They don’t study. They don’t do school work on time. They try to cram all their work into short periods of time. They likely do other bad things. They have a list of problems that’s likely going to take something very personal to them to stop. A conversation from a close friend may be enough to convince them. That being said, a conversation from a close friend may not be enough. They could require losing a significant amount of time and money failing their classes. They could require doing a few things they regret. You can’t force them to change before they’re ready.

That being said, if or when, your friends decide to get back to a realistic and sustainable school lifestyle, you can be their to help those friends get back on track. When those days come, if they trust you, you’ll be able to help them faster than you could possibly dream of today. Of course, you’re not magic but it can surprise you.

Do you want to know how to study faster and more efficiently than ever before? Well… you’ve come to the right blog. Be sure to follow and check out the archives for more information.

Also, be sure to check out the ebooks in the sidebar to get all the secrets.

Q/A – How Do I Help My Friends Study?

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  • How to prepare for a test so well that test day is easier than studying
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5 thoughts on “Q/A – How Do I Help My Friends Study?

  • May 24, 2019 at 6:40 pm

    My friend just figure out that she can’t walk the 8th grade ceremony stage. She has a lower GPA than 1.1. And I don’t know how to help her. She doesn’t want to participate in PE so I’m thinking of ways to help her but I can’t think of other ways. We only have two weeks left of school and she can’t figure out how to get her grades up how can I help her? Also she has difficulty with some girls at school when they’re trying to fight her how can I help her?

    • May 25, 2019 at 7:45 am

      First thing – don’t put this on yourself. If you can help with something consider that lucky. This sounds like a very challenging problem. I completely understand trying to help but don’t let yourself feel like it’s your responsibility. You’re trying to help because it’s a good thing to do.

      It sounds like there are quite a few problems here –

      To salvage the situation: pull out all her syllabus’. Try to get specific grade updates from every teacher. (What is she getting in the class? What assignments are left?) This can be complicated but try and figure out how much each assignment is worth based on the syllabus. That lets you average out numbers to estimate her final grades depending on what she theoretically gets on each assignment.

      I can go into more detail if you’d like but this is just using the “Essays 20%, Tests 40%, etc.” info to estimate the value of different work.

      Try to figure out:

      Are there any classes she’s guaranteed to pass? (Because her grade is high enough and it’s impossible to lower that grade enough to fail based on the remaining assignments.)

      Are there any classes she’s close to passing in? (Because her future assignments would allow her to bring her grades up enough to pass.) These are the assignments/classes that she should be putting most of her effort into.

      Are there any classes she’s guaranteed to not pass in? (Because her future assignments can’t increase her current grade enough.) This might be PE’s problem. If it is – sometimes schools can be accommodating with PE – if there is any course to not worry about screwing up it’s probably PE. Don’t focus on classes she’s guaranteed to fail. It sucks but they’re gone. Only spend extra time on them. Focus on the classes she can pass.

      After figuring out what it’s possible for her to pass in, you could go and ask the person in charge of the ceremony if she could walk the stage by passing these specific classes because she’d be so close. I don’t know if that would work but make sure the person know that she really wants to walk and that hope would help her pass the classes she can.

      About the girls wanting to fight her: if this looks like a real threat to her then definitely contact an adult that you trust about this. I’m too far from the situation to understand what’s happening.

      If it’s any comfort – her situation sounds similar to at one year of my high school years when I was in the 1 point somethings and having social problems with people at school. I hope she can salvage the situation and learn from it like I did.

      And remember – you’re a good person. You’re trying to help. It’s okay if you can’t. Often the people closest to the situation are the only ones that know how to solve it and no one is closer than her.

      Please let me know if I can help in any other way.

  • December 10, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    I found the idea that even logical evidence can’t help convince someone really shocking and interesting. I guess I’ve seen it in real life. Some people hold on to their emotion-based beliefs and nothing can change their mind. I guess that it’s some kind of loophole in thinking.
    OP is sweet for worrying about her friends, I can relate to this – my best friend used to hate studying, left everything for the last minute and failed almost every time. I tried convincing her to start earlier, but this didn’t help. All I could do was supply her with my studying material and keep wishing for the best.

  • October 3, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    If someone doesn’t worry about their own studying then you shouldn’t worry about it.

  • September 23, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    You can study if you want to… You can leave your friend behind…


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