Hello and welcome to “Quick Question,” the jcomm advising podcast. Today’s quick question is about rebounding from a bad term. I didn’t do well last term. How can I fix this?
Now “didn’t do well” is a very subjective phrase and it means different things to different people. You may be accustomed to getting A’s and B’s and last term, you got your first C ever. That’s certainly disappointing but one or two average grades will not derail your college education. On the other hand, you may have flunked two classes last term and earned a C and a D in your other ones. That’s a term GPA of 0.75. At the very least, you’ve received an academic warning. If that term GPA caused your cumulative GPA to go below 2.0, you’re on academic probation.
As you’re staring at your transcripts, first ask yourself, “Is this grade correct?” If you’ve kept track of your progress in each class, you can usually predict the range in which your final grade will be. If you had a B going into the final exam and you ended up with a D+ in the course, you either completely missed the mark on the final or something didn’t add up right. Either way, you’ll want to get in touch with your professor immediately.
Now, there’s the right way to go about doing this and there’s the wrong way to go about doing this. The right away is contacting your professor and saying something along the lines of “I just got my grade and I’d like to talk about it with you when you have some time. I had a B going into the final exam but received a D+ in the class. Would it be possible to go over the final with you? I’d like to know where I went wrong.” This way, you two can discuss your final exam and you can learn from your mistakes. Or, if it turns out your final exam was graded incorrectly, your professor can change your grade.
The wrong way to challenge a grade is to contact your professor and say something along the lines of, “I got a 62 percent and you gave me a D+. I don’t think a 62 should be a D+. I think it needs to be at least a C. And by the way, I came to every class. I should get a better grade.”
This approach doesn’t work for several reasons. It’s not for you to decide what percent equates to what grade. That is established by the professor and is often noted on the course syllabus. The “going to every class” argument doesn’t hold water either. It’s great that you didn’t miss a class. But attendance alone doesn’t guarantee a good grade. You do have to demonstrate that you’ve learned something.
Now, should you repeat a class? The quick answer is, “Not unless you have to.” We’re not going spend a lot of time on this question because there’s a whole podcast episode on minimum passing grades and whether one should repeat a course. You can find it in the podcast archives.
Finally, what can I do to avoid this happening again? First, take stock and see if you can pinpoint why this happened in the first place. Be honest with yourself. Were these bad grades a result of too many football games and not enough time in the library? Do you understand the material but draw a blank when taking tests? Do you do better in classes with essay-type tests but falter in multiple-choice tests (or vice versa)? Did you take on too much?
Talk to your academic advisor about this. We may recommend a lighter workload. Or we may suggest taking a workshop on time management or effective study habits through Academic Learning Services. Sometimes this may just need a different combination of classes. There’s no one set answer because each situation is unique. But you’ve taken the necessary first step in acknowledging that adjustments do need to be made. Let’s work together to see what needs to happen.
“Quick question” is an advising podcast provided by the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon. Visit the J-school Student Services office in 101 Allen Hall or on the web at jcomm.uoregon.edu.