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Preparing for College Success

Family & Friends Matter

Preparing for College SuccessFamily & Friends Matter

Michael’s recently failed test in calculus has rocked his confidence, especially since he has begun to doubt his abilities. While Michael was a good student—As and Bs—in high school, he was initially concerned that he was not ready for the academic expectations of college. This grade made this concern more real.

When Michael was in high school, his parents expected that he would never fail any assignment or any course. On the few occasions that he brought home a C or D on an assignment, they would ground him until he raised his grades. He believed he would not be ready for college if he did less than quality work. One time, his parents had a meeting with his high school biology teacher about his progress. They have been involved and concerned about his grades because they wanted the best from and for him.

Now that Michael is away from home and doesn’t need to share his grades, he feels uncertain about how to deal with this experience. He knows that his parents cannot contact his professors about his grades, so he doesn’t feel obligated to tell them everything just yet, especially because he has the opportunity to raise his grade in calculus. However, he wants to be honest about what has happened, especially if he cannot raise his grade before the end of the semester and needs to drop the course. He doesn’t want to surprise them with the information.

Let’s Think About It

Michael has several options. Think through the consequences of each one, and choose the best option or create your own option.

  • Michael chooses not to share this failing grade with his family, so they are not aware of any of his struggles.
  • Michael shares his failing grade although he thinks it will cause undue stress with his family, and he will have to hear a lecture about not being ready for college.
  • Michael talks with his professor and a tutor about a plan to improve his studying and grades, and shares with his family what happened and how he plans to make changes.

Let’s Talk About It

Michael is not obligated to share his grades with his family unless he feels some obligation or has made a clear commitment to keeping them updated on his progress. Some families make a pact that they will continue to provide support when they see each term’s transcripts. Here are some suggestions for communicating with others about the dilemma that Michael is facing:

  • “I wanted to let you know that I failed a test in my calculus class recently. I don’t want you to be alarmed—many in the class messed up on the first test—but I don’t want you to be surprised if I have to spend more time bringing this grade up. I have a plan and feel confident I can improve.”
  • “I recently struggled on a test because I was overconfident and slacked off. I realize that now and have talked with the professor about what to do differently. He assured me that it was normal and not an indication that I won’t be successful.”
  • “Most of my classes are going well and my grades are good, but I did have a test that I failed. I was surprised, but I realized that I had not prepared appropriately and since then I have met with a tutor and have started studying for the next test now. I even went to see my professor to check my understanding and he confirmed I was studying better.”

Whatever choice you would make in this situation, it is always best to communicate clearly your needs, your concerns, and even your uncertainties.

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