Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Ask Isa: What do you do when you're an A student...& then suddenly you're not

From the Ask Isa inbox:

Dear Isa,

What do you do when you used to be an A student and is now struggling to keep an A in any class? You study hard and are still unable to pass the way you want. Is it time to drop a class?


Disappointed student who wants to do better

Dear Disappointed, 

First of all I applaud you for caring and seeking help. That is the most important step!

I know it must be really frustrating to find your grades tumbling. There are many factors, so it's important to figure out what's causing the sudden drop.

First, I recommend talking to your professors immediately. You might also want to share the whole story with The Chatty Professor, as she also answers student questions on her blog and can give you exactly what to say to your professors to ensure the best outcome. 

Then, ask yourself: have I really been doing everything I can to pass this course? Have I been to tutoring? Have I been meeting with my professors at least once a week? Have I been studying/doing homework at least 8 hours/week? Am I reading books and articles on how to succeed in college and study better?  

Answer honestly and think about what habits you may need to change to improve your grades. 

If you really are giving it your all, take a look at the subject and have a serious conversation with your professor. Is this class required for your major? If so, you might want to talk to a career counselor and advisor to consider other major tracks if you find you aren't liking nor succeeding in core courses.

Or perhaps there are some other factors going on in your life that are affecting your grades? Check with your advising office to see if they offer counseling services or mentorship programs.

I've never dropped a class so I'm not the expert on those policies or how it affects your transcript. I highly recommend you ask that question of your advisor and professor.

The key is to be proactive

And finally, remember that doing poorly in a class does NOT mean you aren't smart. I got all A's in college, and my SAT score was nothing to brag about. The key to good grades is thinking strategically (e.g. choose a major that you find interesting), studying smarter, and asking for help ALL the time. 

I also recommend checking out the book How to Become a Straight-A Student by Cal Newport.

And if you e-mail me at I'd be happy to send you the free resource on getting good grades that I share in my book

Thanks again for reaching out. That alone tells me you ARE a straight-A student, even if the A's aren't showing up right now. They WILL be back if you continue to be proactive. 

Let me know if you need any extra help, and good luck! :)

You can do this. 



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