It happens to the best of us. One moment we think we have the class material down, and the next we don’t recognize a single term on the exam. Whether it was because you didn’t get any sleep, your mind went blank from test anxiety, or you just didn’t really study, you got a bad midterm grade. But don’t stress! A single grade does not define you, and there are still ways to step up your game. After all, you still want to come out of Columbia with a degree. Here’s how to make sure this bad score will just be a small blip in the larger story of your college success:
- Let it out. Letting go of all of the pent up aggression and pressure you’ve put on yourself is the first step to giving yourself an actual chance at success. Cry if you want, punch a pillow, scream into the void, whatever it takes to get rid of your frustrations. Just remember that no one is perfect, everybody has downfalls, and it’s okay. Cut yourself some slack so that you can start working on finding a solution.
- Talk to your professor. They’ve been in your shoes before, and they most definitely remember what it’s like to mess up in college. Have a chat with them about your academic standing, a certain part of the exam that really flustered you, or even past assignments. That’s what the office hours on the syllabus are for. Your professor will see that you’re taking their class seriously if you have an honest conversation with them, take responsibility for your grade, and ask if there are ways you could better understand the course material. Anything that you clear up with them then will help you in the rest of the class, and they’ll be a little more inclined to bump that final grade from an 89 to a 90 if they know you did everything you could to understand.
- Take a personal day. There’s nothing wrong with a little self love. Take a long shower, buy a sheet mask, or binge a few episodes of The Great British Bake Off. Take care of YOU. Stewing in your stress doesn’t help with anything, so treat yourself. Clearing your mind will help you with the next step.
- Get’cha head in the game. You’ve rid yourself of all that useless stress, and you’ve figured out from your instructor what you can do to help your grade a little. It’s time to create a plan. Now that your mind is clear, you can focus better and have a clear understanding of what you need to do to improve. Storing all that information in your head just makes it harder to keep it all organized, so buy a planner and jot down your game plan for the rest of the semester. Put reminders for assignments and future exams where you can see them, so you won’t procrastinate. If you know you haven’t done a few assignments, carve out a weekend to do them. Better late than never! Take a moment to re-evaluate your priorities. You know you didn’t need to go to that party Sunday night knowing you had an exam at 9am the next day, and you didn’t need to watch one more episode of Big Mouth at 3am because you knew it would be available the next day anyway. It all depends on what class you’re not doing well in, but don’t give up. Do what you need to do to get back on track and be in good standing. And who knows, it’ll probably take less effort than you’re dreading it will!
The most important thing to remember is: it’s not the end of the world. Things can get better, but you’re the only one who has the power to make it so. You have another half of the semester to go and that’s enough for even the most “doomed” of us to get at least a C if we do things right from here on out. Don’t give up on yourself, work on minimizing procrastination, and let yourself succeed. You’ve got this!