What to Do When You Notice Your Grades Slipping


Although you likely started the semester with the best intentions, it’s not unusual to notice your grades start to slip at some point. This can be demotivating — which can make your grades slip even further. To improve your performance and achieve the grades you want, there are a few things to do.

1. Figure Out Why Your Grades Are Slipping

It’s only possible to fix your situation if you can figure out why you’re having problems. There are several possibilities, ranging from a workload that’s too heavy to misunderstanding the expectations of your professors. Alternatively, it could just be that you don’t enjoy what you’re learning.
To determine the cause of your poor grades, assess each of your classes in turn. You may be succeeding with some classes and struggling with others. Think about whether those you find difficult have any similarities. If you’re finding all of your classes too challenging, there could be an external factor at play.

2. Create an Action Plan

Once you know why you’re struggling, you can start thinking about ways to overcome your problems. If you find the material for several classes difficult, working with a tutor may help. If your personal life is impacting your ability to study, you may find it beneficial to use any counselling services your college offers. Whatever you decide to do, write down your ideas along with a timeline. To check that you’re on track, set some achievable goals, such as obtaining a particular grade on your next paper.

3. Be Disciplined

To see results, you’ll need to stick to your action plan. This may mean attending every lecture and tutoring session without fail or paying a professor a visit during office hours — even though you find talking about your assignments uncomfortable. You’ll also need to make sure you stick to a study schedule, including when other opportunities arise that are more appealing, such as going out with friends. Finally, you’ll need to put in the effort to stay focused while you’re studying and avoid distractions. Otherwise, you’ll find that you end up writing assignments right before the due date, which makes it difficult to do your best work.

4. Reassess the Situation and Adapt Your Action Plan

Check that you’re right about the reasons for your grades slipping and that your action plan is working by monitoring your grades. If you’re still not seeing the results you wanted, you may need to come up with more solutions (such as dropping a class or activity) or improve your self-discipline. Alternatively, it may be that you need to be more realistic about what you can expect to achieve at college.

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