For a college student, grades are more important than ever. A low grade can have a negative impact on academic plans, cause a late graduation, or even force a change in major. Whether it is a poor grade on a major assignment, midterm or final, students suffer. However, one bad grade in a particular class doesn’t have to be the end of the world. By following some simple steps, you can take charge of your academics and turn your bad grade into an opportunity for success.
- Chat with your instructor
If you’re struggling in a particularly difficult class, your professor or TA should be your first stop. The instructor of your class can provide you with insight on where you are struggling and how you can improve. Their recommendations will prove invaluable for improving your grade before important deadlines or examinations.
Your instructor will also likely have open hours to discuss your work and progress throughout the term. If you are struggling with a particular concept or unit in your class, be sure to utilize any time the professor provides. It will at the very least display your dedication to improving your grade and may give you the chance for greater insight on how to do so.
- Consult with classmates
You are likely not the only person receiving low grades in a challenging class. While it can be hard to admit it to your peers, many others would love to talk or vent about their frustrations. And from your discussions, you may be able to get a better picture of how other classmates have succeeded or struggled.
One of the best ways to make the most out of this is to set up a regular study or homework group. A study group can be particularly beneficial for courses that require a ton of reading or note memorization.
- Seek on-campus resources
Many colleges and universities offer students resources to improve grades. From tutoring centers to specific remedial course workshops, colleges ultimately want students to succeed. More than likely, your professor or advisor will have a good understanding of what resources will be applicable to your specific needs.
Upperclassmen, graduate students, and Ph.D. students can also be great resources. While not always free or covered by tuition, finding someone who has taken the course previously or who has a specialty in the subject area can be well worth the price. Put up fliers or ask around the school or department.
- Check online resources
Free or paid classes are often offered through tutoring or learning classrooms and can be a great resource if you prefer to improve low grades on your own. Some colleges even provide free, downloadable classes or seminars that are open to the public. A simple Google search will most likely provide you with tons of options in your subject area.
- Make a long-term plan
If you continue to try to improve your grades on your own but still find yourself at risk of failing or receiving a low grade, it’s time to get real about your academic plan. Begin by figuring out your options. Most colleges have very strict class add/drop/withdrawal rules and deadlines. Depending on your school’s policy, you may be able to remove the class without penalty; or you might be required to take a ‘withdrawal’ or ‘incomplete’ grade in order to keep a low grade from appearing on your transcript.
Your academic advisor is the best person to turn to if you are unsure how a low grade may affect your plan or progress. Check with them before making any decision. They are trained to know the alternatives and how best to get you back on track.
A low grade doesn’t have to be a death sentence or the end of your academic career. Making improvements is possible by focusing on your studies early and often and by reaching out to others when you’re in need. Whatever you do, do not give up and do not give in. Academic progress is only a few study groups or tutoring sessions away.