Tips for Parents
Having the Academic Performance Conversation
First semester grades will soon arrive on your doorstep. Are you prepared to have the appropriate conversations with your student about her academic performance? Regardless of whether or not she got all As or all Ds, addressing grades should be a priority this winter.
For the student who has done well:
- Give kudos and celebrate! Getting good grades in college is tough to do, especially for first-year students and those balancing coursework with athletics, a job or other co-curricular activities. Have a special dinner, post the grade report on the fridge, etc. This occasion warrants some recognition!
- Discuss what your student learned this past semester. Which class was most engaging and why? What was she able to apply from classes to her life? Will she be taking any additional courses to further explore a particular subject area?
- Review study techniques and other preparation strategies that worked well. What tricks did your student discover for himself? Will he be using the same strategies next semester? Will he be trying anything new?
For the student who hasn't done so well:
No matter what, let your student know that you're on her side. While getting good grades is your student's responsibility, being confident that she has your support helps. You'll be less likely to get surprised with poor grades too, as you'll be able to maintain open lines of communication. Remember, college is all about learning. Sometimes, it's the flops that teach the most.
- Be supportive and understanding. You might be disappointed in your student's performance. Chances are he is disappointed in himself as well. If this is the case, try to be constructive in your criticism and conversation. What's done is done. It's important to focus on fixing the issues for the future — so a poor grade report doesn't arrive again.
- Explore the reasons for the performance. The why behind the poor grades is what is most important. Perhaps your student is struggling with a professor and needs support in handling the situation. Or, maybe your student spent too many nights goofing off and not enough nights studying. Whatever the case, get to the root of the issue and address it.
- Brainstorm some strategies for improvement. Although college students are considered "adults," they still need help. It could prove very helpful to sit down and brainstorm together. Some potential areas to discuss include:
- Daily study habits
- Skills including note-taking, writing, reading and test taking
- Room set-up
- Class schedule
- Out-of-class involvements and responsibilities
- Whether a learning disability might be coming into play
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