Tips on Dealing With Low Grades in College

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By: Elana Goodwin, Uloop

Most students hope to get all A’s on their papers, tests, and other assignments in college — but that’s not always the grade they’ll receive. So if your student has gotten a bad grade or is continually getting low grades in college, they’re not alone.

That being said, there are steps your student can take to ensure they don’t keep getting low scores and instead perform better and raise their GPA. Here are some tips on how to help your student deal with low grades in college.

1. Reflect on prep time and materials

Oftentimes, a low grade can be directly sourced to the student. When discussing your student’s low grade, ask them how much they prepared for the test or quiz or spent working on the assignment or paper. Many students procrastinate until the night before and that’s often reflected in their work and performance.

Did your student really study and dedicate themselves to the assignment or did they put in minimum effort? If they did really apply themselves, that’s all the more frustrating, but it may mean the method or material used while studying was subpar. But if they were lazy and didn’t put in much effort hopefully it’ll act as a lesson to them and motivate them to do better the next time.

It’s also important for your student to consider the materials they used to study or to write their paper. Did they use only their notes or did they also read and refer to the textbook, class lectures, etc.? The materials they had at their disposal and utilized may have affected their score.

2. Think about class commitment

Has your student actually been keeping up with the assigned readings for the course? If not, that may play a part in why they got a bad grade. Doing the readings as the syllabus dictates will help your student truly get the most out of the course and ensure they understand what’s going on in class.

Additionally, class attendance can impact a student’s grade on a paper, test, or in the course. Some professors take attendance and have that make up a part of a student’s grade for the semester so if your student has been skipping, that’s going to negatively impact their grade.

Even if attendance itself isn’t given a grade, missing class means missing notes and material and getting notes from someone else isn’t the same as being present and taking your own. A professor might mention something that will definitely be on the test or change dates or pages for assignments, so when your student misses class, they can potentially miss a lot and see that reflected in their low grades.

3. Meet with the professor

Professors hold office hours so that students can meet with them and discuss assignments, concerns, and more. If your student has gotten a bad grade more than once or received a poor score on a big assignment, encourage them to meet with the professor. By meeting with the professor, your student will be showing them that they care about the class and take their academics seriously and the professor will remember and appreciate your student’s commitment to the class.

Your student shouldn’t expect the professor to change their grade just because they met with them, though; in fact, in large classes, professors aren’t even usually the ones doing the grading, passing it off instead to the TAs. Rather than going in and asking for a grade adjustment (which will almost never happen), your student should ask for advice or explanation on why they got points off and what they could do better next time.

4. Change strategies

Once your student has received a low grade, they should consider changing strategies for next time and figure out what they can improve. Perhaps they didn’t have a productive study environment and should head to the library or forego the music in the background when preparing for their next exam. Maybe they only really paid attention to their notes and should expand their study materials. Possibly they waited too long to start the assignment and then had to rush to finish it, resulting in a poor end product. Whatever the case, after reflecting on their writing, study, or other strategies, they should try to identify what they can do better.

If they feel they need assistance to improve their grades, your student should look into what sort of tutoring services are available through the college. Tutors can teach your student effective time management skills and study habits, provide feedback, assist in assignment completion, and motivate your student to keep on track, all of which will help your student improve their grades going forward.

Getting a bad grade in college isn’t the end of the world for your student — but it’s best to act quickly to prevent more low scores from occurring in the future, and hopefully these tips will help.

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