Final Grades: Damage Control

The last few weeks of class can often be the hardest. You get a little antsy and count down the days until summer, or graduation… or both! The tricky part becomes balancing the books and your strong desire to just be done already. You can’t lose focus because although it may be hard to believe, your grades keep counting—right until the end! You don’t want to be stuck with less than desirable letters to stick on the fridge.

Your final grade report can go one of a few ways. If you work hard and keep on track, your final set of scores will leave a smile on your face. Good for you. Good grades in college, especially in the spring semester, are not an easy feat. Enjoy your few months off and rest up for next semester. Good grades are great, but getting them consistently is even better.

Now maybe you worked hard, but spring fever got the best of you. Not to worry. If you aren’t 100% pleased with the way your final report looks, take time to reflect. Did you turn everything in? Did you complete all of your assignments? Still not happy? Maybe it’s time to talk to your professor. There is no harm in asking for guidance on how to do better next time!

Just because you didn’t finish out the semester with the grades you wanted doesn’t mean you have to let it ruin your summer. Now is the time to think about your habits and academic behaviors. Were the grades really that big of a surprise, or could you have seen them coming? They don’t have to be a GPA death sentence, but you might want to consider turning this batch of grades into a wake up call.

How many semesters do you have left? What actions are you willing to take to catch up?

If this was your senior year, your options may be limited. However, not to worry. You graduated. You made it! Pat yourself on the back. The real world focuses on more than just grades and GPA. Just keep growing and evolving yourself to make up for any spring fever slack that shows up on that last semester transcript!

If you’re a junior, you can breathe. You have two semesters left to make a difference. Take these last courses seriously and go out with a bang! Make sure to utilize all of your school resources. Most campuses have tutoring centers, or writing centers. Have these offices check your papers, or spruce up your assignments to ensure you gain the most points. Every little bit helps!

Sophomores, you have half of your college career left so spend it wisely. Think about the last two years and examine what worked and what methods need a little tuning up. You have time to switch majors, retake courses, or dabble in something new! Don’t give up! Take your time and make sure you are doing what is best for you—and your transcript!

To the outgoing freshmen—you made it through your first year! Was it all you hoped for and expected? Hopefully you made the adjustment. If not, take notes. You have three years to make up for any little blips on your record. That’s what freshman year is for—trying new things, and messing up a few times! We all went through it, and we all made it out alive! So will you!

To the incoming freshmen: This is your time! Buckle up for this upcoming ride. You will do great, just remember—school comes first. Don’t get lost in the excitement of the first couple of months. College is amazing and you should definitely have fun, however make sure you take note of where the library is! (And not just to show to your parents on tours either! Actually use it!)

– Ring Queen

Why It Is Okay to Not Be at The Top of Your Class

As the semester draws to a close and finals loom, grades are a pressing worry now more than ever.  Are the grades you’re expecting not as good as you hoped?  Sometimes it can feel that despite your best efforts, your classmates outpace you with seemingly less effort.

I know in my case my high school did not have a strong math or science department.  I tried (and almost failed) a molecular biology class my freshman year.  Aside from the horrifically boring nature of the course material (sorry, biology majors!), I found that I was significantly behind my peers.  That realization can be incredibly deflating, particularly as you venture outside your comfort zone after getting general education requirements out of the way.

If you find that the deflating feeling just won’t go away, be assured that there is actually a name for it.  It’s called the Big Fish Little Pond Effect (officially recognized by psychology professionals), and you are in good company.  The effect is a hypothesis that the self-concept of students is negatively correlated with the ability of their peers in school. In essence, how you feel about your academic accomplishments depend snot only on your own successes but is correlated to the relative success of those in the school you attend.


I choose to be reassured by this knowledge, and I think it’s something every freshman should be informed of.  In your high school you may have been in the top ten percent, but when you get to college you’re suddenly surrounded an awful lot of other top ten percenters.

As long as you are trying, even though it may be of little comfort to you at the moment, you will likely experience the Pygmalion effect, which refers to the phenomenon in which the greater the expectation placed upon people, often children or students and employees, the better they perform. According to Wikipedia, “the effect is named after Pygmalion, a Cypriot sculptor in a narrative by Ovid in Greek mythology, who fell in love with a female statue he had carved out of ivory after it became human from his wishes.”

In other words, your classmates are likely experiencing the same feelings you are as you all struggle to get through a tougher course load.  All that work has a way of exposing weaknesses, but your own are likely to be magnified.  But according to the Pygmalion effect, the harder you work the better rewarded you will be in the long run!


I’m reading iSpeak: Public Speaking for Contemporary Life