Okay, college students. Midterms are over. You’ve likely written that first Comp I essay and your Calculus class has left you far behind. Alas, all is not lost. Even though there’s only a six weeks left in the semester, you can still turn your GPA-train wreck around and keep fall 2007 from becoming a blot on your transcript. Here’s how to do it:
1. Have an honest discussion with your professor. This is one of those conversations where you need to be sincere even if you have to fake it. Ask for the professor’s advice. The response may surprise you. Many professors will schedule private time to discuss difficult lessons or recommend study guides and other resources. In addition to the actual help, this conversation should convey to your professor that you are seriously trying to improve your grades and want to learn more.
2. Find out what help is available from your college’s academic or student affairs offices. Most colleges offer free writing labs, math labs and tutoring services. Yes…I said free! Sure, it might be slightly humbling to get help from a peer tutor (another student), but it’s worth it. Off-campus, you’ll likely pay $15-25 for tutoring. Some tutoring offices even offer online assistance now. Just e-mail the outline for your next research paper. Twenty-four hours later, you’ll get a reply with an honest assessment and tips to make the paper better.
3. Set a serious calendar, complete with deadlines and scheduled study sessions. See when your assignments are due and work backwards. For example, if a research paper is due Dec. 7, plan to have your outline done by Nov. 5. Schedule a couple of one-hour library or online research sessions over the next two weeks. Plan to have your rough draft done by Thanksgiving. Schedule an hour of study time for each subject in between each class. Your brain will retain more info if it’s fed a little at a time as opposed to an all-night cram session covering six subjects!
Step 3 won’t work, though, unless you are committed and add some self-discipline. Hey…we’re only talking about a couple of weeks. You can give up a few nights of video games, drinking or surfing in return for salvaging a semester. Keep in mind that the classes you complete with a D, F or the dreaded I will have to be taken over again. Get up early, cancel afternoon lunch dates and avoid the mall. Do whatever it takes to carve out study time and stick to your calendar. Completing your assignments in small stages will result in better work. It will also save you from the end-of-semester anxiety that has caused many ulcers to graduate and undergraduate students alike.
4. Check the drop deadline. If things really look too bleak, consider dropping the class. Drop deadlines are usually around the first week of November. This may have to be a quick decision, but again seek the advice of the professor. Most are honest if they don’t think you can bring your grades up to passing. When you take the course again, hopefully the knowledge gained this semester will give you a head start. You may also ask around and consider taking the class under a different professor.
One caveat about dropping classes: dropping hours can negatively affect financial aid or scholarships. Many financial awards require students to maintain a full-time status. That could make your escape from the dreaded Western Civ quite costly if doing so leaves your course load below 12 hours. Dropping to a part-time status could cause you to lose a scholarship or receive a reduced amount forever. That’s right…not just for this semester, but also for the rest of your collegiate career. This isn’t always the case and it varies between college and type of aid. Visit your financial aid office for details if this is a concern.