How To React When You Get A Bad Grade

Scream? Throw something? Cry? Drop the class?

These are all things I thought about doing when I received a low grade on a paper I thought deserved better on. It’s incredibly frustrating to work so hard on an assignment, and think you are following all the guidelines and then get a C, D, or F.

So what do you do when that happens? You take a deep breath, remember it’s not the end of the world, and do this:

  • Talk to the professor right away: What you don’t do is walk out of the classroom in a huff and go to your dorm room, sulk for a while, and write an email to your professor days later. Most likely, a few days later your professor will have forgotten what you written, and may not entertain the idea of rehashing your grade. What you do do is calmly go to your professor right after class. Explain to him that you were surprised by the low grade and ask if there is anything you can do to bring it up. It will be fresh in your professor’s mind and he /she will appreciate you discussing it face to face.
  • Stay Calm: Getting all flustered is not good for your stress level or for your chances of changing the professor’s mind. If you are confrontational, you will look defensive and your professor will not waste his/her time fighting with you rather than having an adult discussion. Your point will get across better if you are calm, cool and collected. It makes you look more adult, mature, and intelligent, all the characteristics that look deserving of a good grade.
  • Do better next time: Practice makes perfect right? If you got a low grade because of spelling or grammar errors, proofread better next time. If it was because of citing problems, ask a library assistant to help you with sources for your next assignment. In the future ask your professor more specific questions about what they expect. Finding a peer-editing classmate can also help rid copyediting or content mistakes. You can even ask your professor to proofread a rough draft of future assignments before you hand them in for a grade.
  • Forgive and forget: Now if this is the third paper that you got an F on it one class, this point does not apply. However, if you have been doing well, a minor slip up on an assignment is OK. First, forgive yourself.  Maybe you had another big assignment for another class, or the flu that week. Next, forget about it. Move on and do better next time. Don’t sabotage yourself and think that because you got one bad grade, everything you do from here on out is doomed. If you are truly concerned about this affecting your final grade, go back to your syllabus and calculate what you have to do for the rest of the semester to keep or bring your grade back up to where you want it. Worst-case scenario, you ask your teacher for extra credit and forget that bad paper ever happened.

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Lisa Manente

Lisa Manente

Lisa Manente is a senior at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT. She will be graduating with the BA in Media Studies and Communications in May. Editing the Entertainment section for her university’s newspaper and magazine has fueled her passion for entertainment journalism, which is the career path she plans to explore. In her free time she enjoys reading, traveling, listening to music, and catching up on celebrity gossip.