Tips for Parents
Talking About Academics
First semester grades will soon arrive on your doorstep. What are you expecting as far as your student's grades are concerned? Are you prepared to have the appropriate conversations with your student about his academic performance? Regardless of whether or not he got all As or all Ds, addressing grades should be a priority this winter.
No matter what, though, try to keep in mind two important things:
- College is about so much more than grades.
- The grades belong to your student — they are his responsibility and if he's done poorly, now it's his choice whether or not to work even harder to pull up his overall average.
This isn't easy to swallow, especially if you're the one paying the bills. But, if you can remember these two things, it might make having the conversation a little bit easier.
For the student who has done well:
- 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.
- 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 outside of classes? 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:
- 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.
- Seek to understand. What's done is done. It's important to focus on fixing the issues so that this doesn't happen again.
- 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
- Skill sets including note taking, writing, reading and test taking
- Room set-up
- Class schedule
- Out-of-class involvements and responsibilities
- Whether or not a learning disability might be coming into play
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 will make a world of difference. You'll be less likely to get surprised with poor grades too, as you'll be able to maintain open lines of communication — about the As and the Ds. Remember, college is all about learning. Sometimes, it's the flops that teach the most.
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