How to Deal with Your First Bad Grades in College in 3 Easy Steps
So, you’re a college freshman and just finished your first semester—great job! However, when grades come in, you see that you didn’t do so well in one of your classes. You may have even failed the course. Things may feel hopeless, but don’t worry. It’s entirely possible to figure it out and get back on track for the rest of your college career. To help, here are three easy steps to dealing with your first bad grades in college.
- Talk with Your Professor
If you receive a bad grade in a course, one of the first things you should do is set a time to discuss this with your professor. This should be done as soon as possible, for a few reasons. First, talk with your teacher to gain clarity on why you received the grade you did. The sooner you can get some insight as to what you need to improve, the sooner you can prepare for doing better next time (more on that later). Professors will give you an in-depth breakdown of your grade so you can see exactly where you didn’t perform well.
Another reason that you should discuss this with your professor is that there is a window during which a professor can change grades. We aren’t saying that you should bully or beg your professor into changing your grade, but offering to redo an exam or rework a project within a certain time frame may be enough to persuade professors to give you a second chance, depending on how close you were to passing. However, if they tell you they can’t or won’t change your grade, be prepared to accept that and move on to step two. Reminder: “I worked hard” is not a good enough reason for a grade change – you must also demonstrate knowledge of the content.
- Make a Plan
If you’re stuck with the grade you earned, it’s time to make a plan for the future. By talking with your professor, you should understand now why you received the grade. If it was because you did poorly on an exam, work on a plan to improve your study habits. If you didn’t do well because you didn’t get all the required reading finished, maybe you need to work on your time management skills. Once you identify the most logical reason for why you didn’t do well, you can begin deciding on how you will do better the next time. Keeping track of your grades and GPA can help you make better academic choices in the future, as well.
Don’t forget to consider logistical issues that often accompany bad grades. If you failed a course, will you have to retake it? Will a failing grade affect your financial aid or scholarships? What about your standing on the college basketball team? Do a bit of research into how your bad grade affects other aspects of your college life and make a plan for how to make amends and get back on track.
- Don’t Give Up
Getting your first bad grade in college may feel like the end of the world, but just remember that it’s not. Many students before and after you will fail a class, and many graduate with a degree anyway, sometimes with honors.
After you’ve discussed things with your professors and made a plan for how not to let it happen again, take a deep breath and let go. Know that your grades are not indicative of who you are as a person or of your worth. If it helps, talk with a counselor on campus who can walk you through the process of getting back on your feet.
Getting bad grades is no fun, especially in college. However, by following the three steps listed above, you will get through it and even thrive for the rest of your college career. As long as you are taking steps to correct what went wrong, you will be certain to find success.