Next Steps After a Bad Semester

We’ve all ended a semester (or a couple of semesters) wishing we tried a little harder to achieve those good grades. It really is the worst feeling, knowing we could have gotten that A or B, “if only I went to class that ONE day.”

But, there's no use in thinking about what-if scenarios. Instead, what are some steps you can take to improve in the future?

First of all, it's important to always remember that grades do NOT define you. Undergraduate and graduate programs look at so much more than just your GPA, so a few bad semesters will not ruin your chances of a prosperous future—as long as you know the problem and can reassess your priorities and lifestyle.

If you had a bad semester, it's important to try and pinpoint where exactly you went wrong. Was it the rigor of a certain class? Were you dealing with personal issues? Taking into account your specific circumstances will allow you to properly deal with the road ahead.

If the rigor of a class was something you had an issue with, it's a good idea to take a step back and look at your study habits. Time management is something we ALL struggle with and need to improve on.

Here are some time management tips:

  1. Keep a planner so you can plan out the workload for the next week, month or even the whole semester.

  2. Plot how long you need to study for each class.

  3. Cut out things that you have noticed waste a lot of your time like TV or social media.

  4. Try to limit extracurricular activities, if you feel they are getting in the way of your grades.

  5. Try your best not to procrastinate! Work a little bit every day, rather than staying up all night to finish an entire research paper.

  6. Remember that even though grades are important, a balance between personal and school life is important too. 

Additionally, frequently visiting your professor’s office hours when the course material isn’t making any sense is also a good idea. If talking face-to-face with your professor is a little intimidating, UCF offers many SARC classes throughout the semester, which allow students to learn from other undergraduate students.  

If personal issues arise during a semester, you should always reach out to your professors to explain your situations. It's important to take care of your family, health and well-being before anything else. Classes can be retaken and graduate schools always offer personal statements in which you can explain your unique circumstances.

So, it's a good thing to realize that you need to make a change in your life before the next semester rolls around. Getting a few bad grades is not the end of the world as long as you learn from it and improve yourself. Remember, that the people on the top are those who made the most mistakes, but actually did something about it.

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