Pick Yourself Up, Dust Yourself Off

This morning, driving to work, as I entered the quaint little town of my employment, I noticed an older lady was getting up off the ground.  No doubt she had tripped on one of the notoriously uneven sidewalks.  I slowed down, but she seemed fine, and thankfully had a walking partner to help her.

Only a few hours before, at 5:00 am in the morning, while out for a run with a friend, we were carefully navigating the uneven sidewalks of our town.  I relayed a story to her of my mother.  On my mom’s 80th birthday, my family and I decided to go for a long weekend in Cape May.  We rented a home and had all driven to the shore to celebrate my mom for the entire weekend.  Being retired, my parents had arrived much earlier than the rest of us on this gorgeous Friday afternoon.  My mom, an incredibly young 80-year-old, decided she would go for a walk.  Cape May is known for their colorful Victorian homes.  However, they too have treacherous sidewalks.  While looking at one of the gingerbread homes, my mom took a pretty bad fall.  Yes, it could have been a lot worse, but it was bad enough that she started the evening with a trip to the emergency clinic.  She received stitches on her chin and eyebrow and later developed a lovely looking black eye.  Was she a little embarrassed? Yes. She even felt like she had ruined the night.  Nope, not even close.  As I recall, we had a wonderful night of laughter around the kitchen table.  Her fall was just a minor setback.

At this point, you may be asking yourself, “What does this have to do with me?”  Well, you know how the song goes. Or maybe you are a little young – actually the song pre-dates me. But it goes something like this: “Pick yourself up….Take a deep breath…Dust yourself off, and start all over again.”  I mention these stories (and song) because the same should hold true for you if find that your grades at the end of this semester are not as stellar as you had hoped.

So, what do you do? You are going to need to pick yourself up and maybe even take a course over again. If this is your first semester in college, don’t panic too much. Most likely, you can repair the damage.  Retaking any course with a D or an F is the fastest way to raise your GPA.   Consult the area of your academic catalog that pertains to retaking courses at your university. Consult with your academic advisor.  Be aware that there may be a limit to the amount of classes you can retake during your college career.  If this is the case, be judicious about which courses you retake.  If retaking a course is not an option, consider the second best way for raising your GPA.  Put a “GPA booster” on your schedule for next semester.  A GPA booster is a course in which you will do well.  This class may be different for each student.  Play to your strengths and interests.  Most likely a GPA booster course will fill in a free elective requirement or be an extra class.  Your academic advisor can give you guidance in this area.  If you’re saying to yourself, “That seems like a waste. Why would I take a course that doesn’t fill a requirement?”   The answer is simple:  This class is NOT a waste; it serves the purpose of bringing up your GPA.  Your top priority while in school is to earn and preserve a good GPA before graduation.  If an extra course does that for you, then it is NOT a waste.

Now that you have a plan, the hardest part is still ahead of you.  First, you should probably have a discussion with your parents. Honestly, for many students, that will be the toughest part. Secondly, you will need to work harder next semester, but you can do it! If you need assistance, all universities provide it.  Academic support can be found at your campus tutoring center and during your professor’s office hours.

If two elderly woman can pick themselves up after a fall, I have no doubt you can too.  As for my mother, that same weekend she decided to learn how to re-ride a bike after a 60-year hiatus – banged up face and all.  If she can have the confidence to do that, you can get back up again too.

A note to parents: If your student comes to you with a bad grade from this past semester, do your duty as a parent. By all means, give them a talking to! They need to hear that college isn’t a joke. On the flip side, once you are done playing it tough, be supportive.  College isn’t a joke, and with that comes some pretty difficult classes. The first semester (sometimes even year) can be a difficult transition. Maybe you remember. Remind them of the various support services, and ask your child for their improvement plan. Feel free to share my advice. Perhaps, set some expectations, if you haven’t already. Then, the hard part for you: giving your child the room and support needed to, hopefully, pick themselves up and succeed on their own.