By the end of first semester, we parents are a little more used to not having automatic access to our students’ grades.
FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) gives college students the exclusive right to view and share records including grades and transcripts.
Our kids now own their educations.
We still hope and expect they’ll feel comfortable letting us know when things aren’t going so well. It’s not uncommon, though, for a parent to be stunned by the news that a student has failed a class.
Panic is natural. “She can’t have an F on her transcript. She wants to apply to law school!” “What will happen — can he still graduate in four years?”
Take a deep breath. An “F” is reason for concern but not the end of the world. You can support your student as she decides on a strategy for dealing with the situation. A few helpful things to know:
We all learn from failure and an isolated “F” can be a useful lesson. A friend of mine knew her son was struggling in calculus and suggested he look into tutoring. He stuck it out on his own, only to get an “F.” The experience helped him recognize something: “I really didn’t know how to study college level math.”
Acting quickly (he had two scholarships to defend), he retook the class and got an “A-“. He has a much better handle on a subject that’s essential to his engineering degree. My friend has a few more gray hairs … but also a new confidence in her son’s ability to manage his academic responsibilities.
Other recent articles by Diane Schwemm:
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