6 Last-Minute Tips to Improve Your Grades This Semester

For many college students, as the midway point in the semester approaches, things may begin to slip—your motivation, your diet and your grades. Do you find yourself dreaming of summer instead of studying for a big exam? Do you feel hopeless AF about your extremely challenging economics class? Are you stressed about your grades in general and in need of some help? Look no further, collegiettes. We’ve consulted with Jennifer Carroll, an academic advisor in the Center for Academic Advising & Professional Development at Temple University, in order to get some last-minute tips for saving your grades this semester.

1. Reach out to your professor

First and foremost, when you are struggling with your grade in a class, you should always reach out to the professor. Even if you believe there is little they can do to help, in most cases, just the fact that you made the effort to reach out to them will show them that you care.

"Meeting with an instructor will give the student a real sense of how they are doing in the course and if there will be opportunities for them to bring their grade up before the end of the semester," Jennifer says. "Also, going to see a professor during office hours signals to a professor that the student cares and is really invested in doing well. When they see an investment on the part of the student, there may be more of a willingness to provide additional support that may help the student improve their grade." Jennifer strongly encourages communicating with your professor. 

For Rachel Petty, a junior at James Madison University, reaching out to the instructor is a necessary first step in improving your grades. “I would always recommend talking to the professor,” she says. “Oftentimes, they’ll offer you an extra credit opportunity or award you points for participation. It doesn’t hurt!” 

2. Communicate with your classmates

Whether you want to form a study group, find an in-class partner or create a great connection with one of your peers, getting in touch with your classmates is always a good idea—especially when you are struggling in a class. Most of the time, if one student is having difficulty, so are several others. So, don’t be afraid to vocalize your issues and seek help from your fellow students.

In the technological age, communicating with your classmates is easier than ever before. For Sydnee Lyons, a grad student at Florida Atlantic University, the Internet is a great way to interact with (and learn from) her peers. “Posting and replying to posts by others on the class Wiki or discussion board is often a good way to boost your participation grade,” she says. “It’s something that you can really do at any point in the semester––even just posting online resources you think would be helpful for others.” According to Sydnee, this comes with an added bonus: professors will usually factor in your online participation into your overall participation grade.

If your class doesn't have an online option for connecting with other students, Jennifer recommends going the old-fashioned route and putting together a study group. 

3. Cut down on your other responsibilities

The difficulty of balancing all of life's responsibilities—work, internships, extracurriculars and more—with a full course load is an understandable struggle for many collegiettes. According to Jennifer, responsibilities outside of school often add additional stress to a student and may impact his or her ability to focus on academics and grades. While it is important to support yourself through college, Jennifer recommends being realistic about how much you can handle and having an honest conversation with your supervisor or boss (depending on the situation). 

She also notes that it is important to have a game plan before you request a conversation. "They need to be clear about what it is that they are asking for," she says. "If it’s time off or less hours, how long will they need this allowance? The plan needs to be realistic and one that they will be able to manage. If additional adjustments need to be made, they need to communicate that to their supervisor before they enter crisis mode." You should always try to handle the situation before it gets unmanageable!

Related: What to Do If You’re Failing a Class

4. Utilize your on-campus resources

This is one option that many students fail to take advantage of. Almost all college campuses have a multitude of resource centers that have workers specifically hired to help you—the student!

An advising office is a great resource for a struggling college student. If you have reached out to your professor about your grades but have had difficulty getting the response you were hoping for, you should always seek out the help of an academic adviser on campus. "Advising offices have relationships with departments and can provide the student with additional supports should the situation need to go to a department chair or grievance officer," Jennifer says.

Additionally, if you find that you are having anxieties or negative feelings associated with a certain class, you should address the issue as soon as possible. "If a student has a sense that they will struggle with a course, they should seek help early in the semester," Jennifer says. "If they have an anxiety about a course even after seeking academic supports, they may want to consider seeking additional support through the counseling center on their campus." 

If you find yourself struggling as the semester progresses, we highly recommend doing some research on the resources built around you (literally). Trust us, both your grades and your stress levels will thank you!

5. Consider withdrawing from the class

Withdrawing from a class is a pretty cringe-worthy idea, we know, but it is an important option to consider if you are in a really bad situation.

"If a student is still struggling after pursuing [the other options mentioned], I will often encourage the student to withdraw from the course if the withdraw deadline has not already passed," Jennifer says. But, what if the deadline has already passed? "If the withdraw deadline has passed, the student should consult with an academic advisor about other options that may be available to them on their campus," she adds.

If you are pretty much positive that you are going to fail one (or more) of your classes this semester, planning for academic recovery in future semesters is a vital next step. "If a student fails a course or multiple courses, it’s important that they see an academic advisor to discuss the best approach for academic recovery," Jennifer says. "They should also see a financial aid advisor to determine how repeating a course would impact their eligibility for financial aid in future semesters." It is crucial to set smart and realistic semester plans going forward.

6. Designate time to de-stress

Stress has never yielded positive results, so don’t let it make a bad situation feel even worse. While it is important to work hard and go after your goals, it is equally as important to designate some time to do the things you love. The happier you are, the more motivated you will become! Look at things in a positive light—hey, summer is almost here after all—and power through the last half of the semester. Your mind, body, soul AND grades will thank you for it.

Related: 25 Signs You're So Over This Semester

When it comes to your grades at this point in the semester, if you are feeling hopeless, rest assured that it is not too late to turn things around. Focus on balancing happiness with hard work and reach out to your professors and peers. Your grades—and your life—will improve drastically!