You were the top of your class in high school. You got that scholarship you wanted. You’ve made straight A’s all your life. Then, something happens. You fail your first test in college. Your high school sweetheart dumps you for a new girl he met in college. You don’t get into the Greek organization of your choice. Now what? I’m surprised each semester at how poorly equipped young women are at dealing with failure (or disappointment). No, none of us ever aspire to fail at something; but all through life, failure will find a way to creep into your path. The key is being able to grow from it and to move on.
Your mom isn’t there to soothe the hurt this time. So how do you move on? First identify the root of the problem. Did you fail a class because you had poor attendance? Attendance can make or break you in college. You can fail a class simply by missing to many days – even if your test scores are high.
Did you fail a test because you didn’t understand the subject matter? Each department has a set of tutors; use them. Reach out to the professor. Ask for clarification. Ask if there is extra work you can do to make up for the test grade. A lot of professors will work with you if you make the effort to contact them. Reread difficult chapters or sections of your text book. Rewrite your notes. Both of these simple tricks can help you retain information more easily.
Know your campus forgiveness policy. Don’t let one class effect your whole GPA. Many colleges offer you the chance to retake a class and replace the failing grade with the new one.
Don’t overwhelm yourself by cramming to many hours into your schedule. It’s better to gradually increase the hours you take after you’ve learned how the campus is laid out, what resources are available, how you handle getting yourself up each day and making it to an 8AM class. Get a planner. Use it. Map out your class time and study time. Add in any other activities you participate in, your work schedule, etc… Watch distractions. Turn off notifications on your phone and computer if you can’t help but check each one that pops up on the screen.
Know your campus drop/add policy. You can usually drop a class without penalty if you do so by a certain date. If you know you are in over your head, this can be a really smart thing to do.
Learn to prioritize and say no. You are in college to get an education. Everything else is secondary. Sometimes you must say no to hanging out with friends when you have a paper due. This is a skill you will use for life. In your work life, you’ll have projects due and you’ll have to make sure the distractions of life don’t interfere with your responsibilities.
One word to parents, colleges are no longer required to send you copies of grades or financial information. The student is in control of that information. If you find out your child has failed a class or classes, I’d suggest you determine if this is a fluke or the sign of a much greater problem. Have a talk with your student and see what they feel led to the failure. Set some consequences for the action. Make sure they understand how the grade effects their overall college career. Will finances be cut-off or decreased? Could they lose their scholarship? Will they go on academic probation? Will they need to come home for a semester to try and bring up their GPA at a local community college? Whatever you decide, make sure you let the student deal with their professors and university. Never, never feel it is your place to contact a professor on your child’s behalf. Your role is not to fix the problem, but to show them how to handle it correctly and move forward.
As far as membership in clubs and organizations, the only people who will truly know why you didn’t get an invitation are the members of the club. However, there are a few common reasons I can share with you based on my years of working with sorority recruitment.
If you didn’t have strong grades coming into college, start there. A lot of organization are looking for students with a proven track record. GPA cut lines are moving higher and higher. They assume if you struggled in high school, you will probably struggle in college. Many think they are doing you a favor because you would spend your first semesters on academic probation and not get to fully enjoy all the group had to offer. Rumors and reputation come into play as well. Make sure your social media is clean. Yes, they will stalk you. If you look like you boozed it up every weekend over the summer, you’ll more than likely get passed over for that bid. No one wants someone they have to babysit and could be a potential liability to the organization. Conversation skills are a must. You’ve got to treat recruitment activities like an interview. One word answers don’t show a group you have interest in them and it doesn’t allow you to show what you have to offer. By all means, don’t bad mouth a potential group to another group. Women have friends in all houses and that news travels fast. You may think you are helping yourself out at one house, but in reality, people know if you’ll talk about someone else, you’ll talk about them too.
Learning to cope with disappointment is a skill that will come in handy all your life. There are no participation trophies given out in real life. You must learn how to deal with things and get past them to move ahead.