Sometimes receiving good grades is the least of your concerns when you are failing a class. Midterms are right around the corner, so getting that passing grade is crucial if you want to get the credit hours you deserve.
But burying your nose in a book or studying until four in the morning doesn’t have to be your only option when you are failing.
When students are failing, the simple solution would be to ask the instructor for help, but for students, that may not be that easy.
“I remember when I was an undergraduate student, sometimes I was hesitant to ask a teacher for help because I was embarrassed about falling behind,” says Jim DeLung, director of counseling and career planning. “I almost viewed it as if I was letting my instructor down by falling behind in class.”
“Pride plays a huge role in it,” explains Charity Stolworthy, student success coordinator. “Students do not need to be afraid or scared of asking for an instructor for help. All instructors on campus want to see their students succeed, and they encourage students to ask for help.”
Though it may be scary or embarrassing to ask an instructor for help, Biology and nutrition instructor Sarah Ward explains why students shouldn’t be intimidated or afraid.
“CNCC strives to promote its small class size and student-teacher interaction, which in theory should make a student less afraid to ask for help,” she says.
But DeLung says that if students are still having problems, they should know that they are always welcome to go to the Counseling Office or the Learning Center to discuss what is going on.
Many resources are here at CNCC to help students get the grades they want and deserve, inclduing the Learning Center and Counseling Office. But students’ instructors should be their first contacts when they are failing.
Students have had to set up meeting times with Ward to discuss their grades and see how they could improve test scores and their overall grade.
“We met during my office hours at the Learning Center, and went through the two exams (a student) had failed,” says Ward. “I then referred her to Ramona Smalec, Learning Center coordinator, to determine whether a different study and exam-taking approach would improve her performance in the course.” The student’s grade was improved.
Speaking of the Learning Center, it’s an approachable, relaxed place to get help or just hang out. The Learning Center welcomes everyone.
“Whether a student wants tutoring or they just want a comfortable place to study, the Learning Center is the place to go,” says DeLung.
Ward added that the Learning Center is a great place for tutoring, as well as one-on-one assistance with reading, writing, and math skills.
Some students may not even know that they are failing until they get the dreaded “failing slip” in their mailbox.
”All instructors were supposed to report grades after the first three weeks of the semester,” says DeLung. “There is a lot of research out there showing that the first three weeks of a semester is a critical period for students. They adopt types of behavior in a class which contribute to their success or their lack of success. Any student who was getting a D or an F in a class after the first three weeks should have been referred to (student success coordinator) Charity Stolworthy.”
Stolworthy says, “I will send out letters, call, or email students who are not doing well in their classes. When students come in and see me, I will go over what is going on in their courses or course, see what help is available and discuss their options.”
Others, like Ward and Jay McLaughlin, chemistry and math instructor, let students know how they’re doing throughout the semester. This allows students to know what their grade is more frequently, and they will know if they are failing before it’s too late.
“I hand out grade sheets after each exam that tells a student their grade in the course, then follow up with a referral to Charity Stolworthy for all grades less than a C,” explains Ward.
On top of McLaughlin’s tests, he writes the grade you received on the test, and also your current grade in the corner of the page.
Nobody likes to look at a grade slip that has a big fat F on it, let alone one on your transcript. But you can escape the worries of an F on your transcript by withdrawing from the class you are failing.
“If a student has no chance of passing, I recommend that they withdraw from the class,” says DeLung. “The student still has to pay for the class and they will get a W (for ‘withdrawal’) on their transcript; but a W is better than an F. Admissions representatives from four-year schools are worried more about an F on a transcript than a W.”
Students may be hesitant about withdrawing because of, again, the embarrassment factor. But should they be?
“Not at all,” states Ward. “Sometimes the timing is just not right for a student to be taking the course, and they could lighten their load and feel less stressed by dropping a course.
“I remember feeling horrified my freshman year at CSU because I dropped a Western Civilization course after the add/drop date, and a W went onto my transcript. It turned out to be a fantastic decision, because I was more able to focus on my other classes and enjoy the remainder of the semester.”
So don’t be scared or embarrassed to withdraw from a class if you have to, because even your instructors have had to do it.
For students who are failing and know they won’t pass, the last day to withdraw is Monday, Nov. 23. Students can talk to DeLung, Stolworthy, or even their teacher if they are thinking about withdrawing from a class.
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