How to Handle a Bad Grade

by Laura K. Garrison

As a strong, beautiful Barnard woman, chances are you’ve rarely, if ever, gotten a bad grade prior to college. You may have had a couple of bad days here and there, but for the most part, you’ve become accustomed to the steady flow of As and Bs you always seemed to have gotten. In college, however, there will come a time when you undoubtedly won’t do so hot on a midterm, paper, or other grade-busting assignment. For the chronic overachiever in all of us, here’s how to handle it:

Take Some Time to Freak Out
It’s okay to be upset about a bad grade, because (a) it means you really care about your future, (b) you know you can do better, and (c) you’re not used to receiving that kind of grade. While it might seem like your only choice is to to swallow your pride and move on, it’ll only get you all the more upset when everything bottles up inside. Cry, scream, laugh, punch a pillow, rant to a friend, talk to your parents, or curse out your professor – whatever it takes to get your feelings out (though I would suggest that you wait until you’re out of earshot of your professor).

Now Pull Yourself Together
Once you start to calm down, come up with a plan of action. If you can stomach it, look at your exam or assignment to see where you went wrong. Did you not understand the material as well as you thought you did? Run out of time? Rush through it? Make stupid mistakes? Panic and forget everything? If you have some idea of what happened while you were hard at work, you’ll be better able to figure out where to go from there.

Use Your Resources
One of the best aspects of going to Barnard is the incredible support and encouragement the administration provides. If your class has a TA, talk to him or her about going over the exam or assignment with you so you know how to get to the correct answers next time. Speak with the professor about how the assignment was graded and how much of an impact it will have on your final grade. Make an appointment with your advisor and/or dean to go over your options. Go to the Furman Counseling Center if you want to talk your experiences through.

Don’t let school get you down.
Chin up, Barnard bears!

Know Your Options
If your final grade is at risk and the course does not fulfill a major requirement, consider taking it as a pass/D/fail. The deadline to declare P/D/F has been postponed to Tuesday, November 20 at 11:30 p.m. due to Hurricane Sandy. Be sure to follow the instructions on your eBear program. If failing the class is a risk, consider withdrawing from the course. You can obtain a withdrawal slip from the Office of the Registrar in 107 Milbank Hall. It must be signed by your advisor and, if you’ll be completing less than twelve credits after the withdrawal, your class dean. The deadline for withdrawal has also been postponed to Tuesday, November 20 at 4:30 p.m.

Keep This in Mind
Though it may be disheartening to get a bad grade, keep your head up. Bombing an exam or assignment is something everyone will inevitably deal with at some point in their academic career. You probably weren’t the only person to do badly on the assignment, and there are lessons to be learned from the experience. It’s important to remember that no single assignment, exam, or class can describe your intellectual capacity. You go to Barnard, and that speaks volumes about your ability as a student. Most importantly, remember that we learn the most from our failures. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep moving forward.

Laura K. Garrison is a sophomore at Barnard and Managing Editor for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Image courtesy of Jay P. Greene and First People.

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