Every Spring, usually around the 14th or 15th week, I get desperate email messages. Sometimes they come in at the end of Finals Week, after all the student work has been submitted:
HELP!!! I'm on academic probation and I absolutely NEED a "B" in this class or I will have to leave the school!!! What can I do to raise my grade???
The main problem with these desperate appeals is that they are about 12 weeks too late. All the papers have been written, the homework submitted, and the damage done, both in my course and in all your other courses. Here is my advice (and I am posting this in the first week of class because you need it now).
If you know you are on academic probation, if you suspect you might be, or if you are simply worried about your grades:
- Analyze what is going on. You did not get on probation for doing poorly in just one class. Try to find a pattern, then seek appropriate help.
- Analyze your priorities. Everyone manages to get their most important things done, but things that are lowest on the list often get ignored. If your list of priorities looks like this, do not be surprised when the bottom item just does not get your attention:
- Being a sports star
- Impressing the opposite sex
- Hanging out with friends
- Partying and drinking
- Doing a bit of studying and academic work
- Do all the good-student things. Do them for all your classes. These are all within your ability.
- Go to bed on time.
- Stay sober.
- Attend every class session.
- Sit near the front.
- Show up before the class starts and stay until the class ends.
- Use the toilet before you come to class. Don't plan on popping out in the middle and missing 15 minutes of class.
- NOTE: If your toilet needs are caused by your abuse of performance-enhancing drugs, your problems are bigger than just an English grade! Seek help!
- Stay awake during class.
- Turn off your cell phone before class starts. Don't use the classroom computer for Twitter, Facebook, Fantasy Football, eBay, looking at porn, etc.
- Don't use this class period to do homework for other classes.
- Do the reading.
- Buy a pen and some paper. Bring them to class.
- Take notes in class.
- Keep an assignment calendar.
- When you lose track and have to do an assignment at the last second, it will always be terrible.
- Few teachers will track you down and beg for an assignment you forgot to submit.
- Submit every assignment, whether big or small, on time.
- Ask questions in class if you do not understand what you are supposed to do.
- Work on your attitude.
- If you are angry/upset because you didn't get into a Big Ten football program, you landed in a remedial course in your first semester, or you cannot stand being taught by an old white man, you have a limited number of choices: You can remain angry (and do poor work and get a poor grade), you can transfer to another college, or you can deal with the situation like an adult. It's all up to you.
- If you think that the college owes you a good grade, that your poor grades are all because teachers all hate you or that you can bluff your way through without doing any work, you need to grow up.
Student arrogance is a major cause of poor grades.
- Figure out how your course works. In English 101, you receive grades for the large papers, but you also get grades for daily quizzes and attendance.
- The high school strategy of simply holding down a chair for a certain number of weeks (and maybe slapping a paper together at the last second) does not work in college.
- In my Spring 2018 course, if a student did a decent (B) job of writing, but turned in no quizzes and missed 10 class sessions, the final grade would have been a C+. You really do need those extra points for showing up.
- Don't hope for extra credit. Most college teachers do not give extra credit assignments. I don't. To raise a "C" in Spring 2018 101 to a "B minus," you would have needed to submit a totally perfect 8-page paper because you needed to pull 198 out of 200 points. Arithmetic works against you. Are you going to throw together a totally perfect 8-page paper in a couple of days? I think not, especially if your writing has been running at a "C" level. Am I going to put out the effort to grade it? No, especially considering that all the other students would like a chance to throw together their 8-page papers.
The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author.
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by Ashland University.
Revised 12/26/18 • Page author: Curtis Allen • e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.