What to Do When you Get A Bad Grade at Williams

Let’s face it. We’ve all been there. You stayed up all night studying super hard, and your grade gets posted or handed back to you and there it is. A grade that just does not even come close to reflecting all of your hard work and dedication. You don’t even know what to do. You want to cry. You want to yell. But there are definitely more useful actions to take that could really benefit you in the future, so I have come up with some tips for all of you and have also included some encouragement and help from students who have been through all of this before.


Tip #1: Put the grade aside for awhile.

In the moment, you’re emotions are going to be racing. You won’t be in the best state of mind to thoroughly understand and absorb the grade and your professor’s comments. Allison Frison, a sophomore at Williams, really emphasizes this. In an interview, Frison made a really important point and said, “When I have received a grade that I was upset about, I find it most helpful to put it aside for a little while. This allows me to regroup. If I try to go through the assignment immediately, I always end up just becoming more upset and that doesn’t benefit anyone.”


Tip #2: Take a deep breath and slowly go through the assignment.

It is so easy to get caught up in anger and sadness, but it truly benefits you to just take a nice, long, deep breath. There is really no use to getting all riled up because at this point, you got your grade back and there’s not much you can do to change it. Looking through the assignment and professor’s comments in a calm state of mind is more useful.


Tip #3: Meet with your professor.

After reviewing the assignment, you may come across questions or concerns. Even if you don’t, many Williams students find it so reassuring to just go and talk to their professors. All of the professors at Williams are so open to reviewing assignments and discussing ways to improve in the future. No one is trying to fail you or make you miserable. Williams is a very rigorous academic institution; professors just want to challenge you and make you think outside the box. They are always very understanding and love meeting one-on-one so you should never be afraid to reach out. Lydia Kurtz, a freshman at Williams, tells me about how helpful she has found it to meet with professors. “Building relationships with professors by going to office hours and meeting with them has been really helpful for me because it shows that I care about the course material and am willing to put in the necessary work to be successful in their class.”


Tip #4: Talk to your classmates.

Everyone at Williams is ultimately suffering through the challenging academics together, so it never hurts to see how others do and compare answers and thinking processes. This could be really beneficial, especially for later in the semester. Talking to your peers about an assignment may even lead to study groups that could help you get your grade up on the next assignment.


Lastly, I just want to say that it is OK to not always receive amazing grades. You’re at Williams for a reason and that is because you are such an amazing student and hard worker. Williams is meant to challenge you so if you were receiving perfect grades all the time that would mean you weren’t being academically challenged. I hope these tips were helpful and good luck with the rest of the semester!