The Grades Come Back: Now What?
Gone are the days when college students would nervously await the mail to learn of their performance after the semester is over. Now grades are posted electronically on the WINGS system, and are available the weekend after finals for students to access.
But some things have not changed. One of these is the question many parents ask themselves—how should I react? Of course if your student excelled, then the issue is a pleasant one. Beyond the traditional congratulations, students who have done well appreciate parents’ showing interest in the courses they have taken and those for which they are enrolled next semester. While it is important to allow students to take ownership and responsibility for their actions and the decisions they make, parental interest and encouragement is an important influence in many students’ success. In fact, some research suggests that it is more important than it’s been in several generations.
On the other hand, if your student did not do as well as he or she had hoped or expected, you may find yourself apprehensive about how to respond. Every situation is unique, but the following are points that have been helpful for many parents discussing poor performance with their college-aged students:
Examine behavior and priorities
Ask your student how he or she prioritized time, energy and other resources last semester. Did the priorities reflect your student’s goals? Usually the answer is no, and this realization can form the basis for change in study habits, the friends your student spends time with, and the general level of engagement your student has with the University.
Focus on the future
While any assessment must examine the past, try not to dwell on it. Unlike the past, the future is something over which your student can exercise some control. Encourage him or her to make a plan and stick with it!
Talk about the value of the syllabus
The syllabus is the first reading assignment for every class. It spells out the contract between students and their professors. Understanding the ground rules enables students to take charge of their academic performance. Without this understanding, your student probably cannot successfully navigate the semester.
There are many resources on campus for students struggling academically or otherwise. Encourage him or her to take advantage of help. Individual faculty members are often a student’s best resource. Suggest to your student that he or she seek out professors after class or during office hours, even before trouble strikes. If the problem seems to transcend a specific course, the Academic Success
, and Writing
centers can empower students to improve.
Does your student not know where to turn? A student’s primary resource for academic questions is his or her academic advisor. While advisors can’t always solve problems, they do help students diagnose them and get them in contact with the resources they need. For contact information, see the Advisement Centers page. For more general academic information, visit FYE’s online resource, Academics 101.
Last updated: 12/8/2015