Helping Your College Student Make Sense of Midterm Grades
Once midterm exams are over, many students will receive their midterm grades. At some institutions students will receive grades, if they receive them at all, individually from instructors. At other institutions, there may be something more formal. Students may receive actual letter grades, or they may receive something to indicate satisfactory or unsatisfactory grades.
There are some important things to remember about midterm grades – and to help your student remember in order to make sense – and productive use – of these mid-semester grades.
- Midterm grades will go to the student, not to the parents. Like final semester grades, the FERPA (Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act) law gives access to educational information to the student once he or she turns 18 or attends post secondary school.
- Midterm grades are usually not a part of the student’s permanent record. They are meant to give the student an indication of his progress mid way through the semester.
- At some schools, midterm grades may also go to the student’s academic advisor.
- One of the worst things that a student can do is to ignore her midterm grades.
- Midterm grades usually come at about the midpoint in the semester, but this may not be the midpoint in the work for the course. Your student may have more work ahead than is already completed.
- If your student questions a grade, or receives any grade that is less than satisfactory, he should make an appointment to talk to the professor. Midterm grades are meant as an opportunity to encourage your student to open a conversation or dialogue with the professor about how things are progressing.
- Your student should keep in mind that the midterm grade for this first semester of college includes any transition and adjustment time that may have occurred. Her work may have already improved since the beginning of the semester.
- If your student’s midterm grades are satisfactory, congratulations! She should know that she is on the right track.
- If the midterm grades are not what your student hoped for, this is a good time to take stock and think about what may not be working. There is still a half semester of work to turn things around. He can consider what strategies need to change. He might think about class attendance, how, when and where he is studying, or whether a tutor might help. This is time for some honest assessment, not a time for excuses. Help your student think about what action he needs to take.
- Your student may need to consider whether withdrawing from a class may be warranted. If one grade is very low, withdrawing from that class might give him more time to focus his energies on doing well in his other classes. Although withdrawing is not ideal, in some cases it may make success in other classes more manageable, and help him keep his GPA strong.
- Your student may want to keep midterm information in mind as she considers her choice of classes for the following semester. She may need to think about whether or not to take advanced classes, or particular instructors, or learning styles.
It is important to keep midterm grades in perspective. They provide valuable information to students at an important point in the semester. Students who make sure to check these grades, and who consider what they mean, know whether they are advancing smoothly or whether they may need to make some changes. Parents can help students interpret the information and put it in perspective, but then they need to step back once again to allow the student to follow through with whatever he needs to do.