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teachermom2834

Perspective on college grades

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My second ds is so disappointed in his second semester grades. This was his first year away from home but he had 36 de hrs so this actually wraps up his sophomore year.  He needed a 3.0 for the year to keep his scholarship and a 3.2 for the year to keep stay in the honors college and he met those easily. 

He has no plans for med school or any highly competitive grad schools. He is planning to go to grad school for business but we’re not talking Wharton or anything. He’s just a pretty average guy with average goals and I think a GPA between 3.0-3.5 is fine. He’s a good worker and ambitious and I think a B+ average combined with his other attributes will be fine. And even if it isn’t, if that’s the best he can do it is what it is, right? So he might not get into his first choice grad school or he might have to work harder for his first job or whatever but that is just life. It isn’t as if there is no life path for people that got Bs in college. 

I don’t know what I’m asking. I’m just frustrated that he is being a bit dramatic about getting lower grades than he would like. College is supposed to be hard. If he had straight As every semester I would wonder about his college, actually. He’s really still learning study skills for these classes that are more challenging than anything else he has had.

I’m personally happy that he went 500 miles away and came back in one piece with his scholarship secure and having made another year’s progress towards a degree. I was patient and encouraging at first but now I’m just getting annoyed that he is acting like the sky is falling because he got a 3.0 one semester. It’s over, no damage done, nothing that needs to be retaken, do better next time if you don’t like it. 

Anyone else have a kid that overreacts to grades? Has grade inflation become such a thing that Bs really are bad? Everyone can’t have a 4.0 every semester, right? Ack. He is driving me nuts. Lol

Edited by teachermom2834
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Interested in the replies. DS18 will likely be in this boat come next year. He has always been an A student, considers a low A horrible, I fully expect some Bs and Cs in college - he is bright but has poor time management skills - and I'm sure the sky will fall.

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I don't listen to it. I may offer to help them up their game, and point out that their energy is better spent doing something about whatever caused their low grade than venting..but otherwise my broken record plays 'if you want to, you will'. 

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My oldest DS is a perfectionist and he just missed an A+ in 2 of his classes, one of them by only .05%. And he was ticked at both himself and his professor 🙄 even though he kept his 4.0

Frankly I roll my eyes and tell him it's good for his character to have people other than me reminding him that he's not perfect 🤣 DH (who is an engineer and survived courses where a 50% was the grade that set the curve) tells him the same thing. Sometimes I think his life just isn't hard enough if that is what is making him mad LOL

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I think a 4.0 isn't a reasonable expectation in college given the demands of individual courses and the courseload as a whole. A few might hit this, but I don't think that is the measure of if you are doing well in college. 

What's more at one son's orientation they told students that if they were getting A+ grades they were spending too much time on classes and needed to take advantage of student groups and other opportunities. 

I also believe that students can focus on what they can control. They aren't in charge of grading. They can affect how they study. So if mine were genuinely complaining, I would ask how they could make changes the next semester. 

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My kid is not in college yet but my dd is getting her first B in high school in an outsourced class.  I too am just about DONE with listening to it.  We are doing some spring cleaning and I came across high school transcripts for dh and myself.  I knew I had not been a great student in high school, but the reality is I was actually quite a poor student.  I got a C- in the non-honors version of the honors class dd is getting a (very high) B in.  Dh was better but certainly not a 4.0.  I shared these with dd.  I have no idea if it helped her feel better but she did stop the my-academic-life-is-ruined talk.  I also keep emphasizing with dd that having the attitude and grit to continue trying your hardest, even when you know the grade you want is now out of reach, makes me far prouder of her than getting an A.  

 

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I told my kids in High School that I think getting 4.0 for most students is an unreasonable goal, but that that is the game everyone is playing and we are going to play it too.  I also told them you are not your grades and if you don't get all A's it's really ok and that really is my preferred way to go.  I would say get A's in your strengths for sure and try to get an A in your weaknesses, but if you don't really who cares...well except college admissions. They did get a couple of B's and that was fine.

In college I told them the all A's game is over, and that is up to them, but now you need to keep the 3.0 to keep the scholoarship and so far my dd has 3.5 and we love B's as much as A's.  No big deal, there are other things to be learning this life besides bookwork.  We did discuss grad school how grades effect that perhaps, but that is their own decision.  

Oh my gosh I made terrible grades.  I hated school so bad, my senior I locked my books in the locker and never took them out.  I had to go get my locker combination at the end of year from the school office to get the books out! LOL

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I take a debrief approach. "So, do you think you could have done anything differently this semester?" Help him think about what he could change for the future to turn all that moaning into something positive. "Those are all great ideas! What do you think you'll do differently in the fall to implement those?" Get him off the broken record and onto something positive. "I think you have a good plan. For what it's worth, I'm proud of you. College is hard, and some semesters are harder than others. Do your best and don't worry about the grades." 

But if it keeps up after a conversation or series of conversations along these lines, I'd probably say, "No one's perfect. Shake it off and move on." 

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Do you reflect his feeling back to him so that he feels heard?  Something like:  "It must be disappointing to not reach your academic goals."  

If you're doing that and he's still venting, then time to channel his energy into prepping for next year.  You might suggest one of Cal Newport's books for college students.  He offers some solid study strategies.  

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Thanks, all. 

He seems to have made peace with it and resolved to do better going forward. He has two tough ones first summer session so we’ll see. 

I think what happened is this is his first semester that not a single teacher curved or bounced up the grades at all at the end. In most college classes he has had (including de) grades took a trend upward at the end, whether a grade was dropped, a higher final substitutes for a lower earlier test, a slight curve was applied or whatever his grades have generally come back a bit better than he calculated. This semester every single prof gave him exactly what he had calculated numerically. The 93.6 remained an A-. The B- actually were B-. The C came in as a C. Most classes he has had the minuses would fall off for final grades. So every single class was without this little bump he has become accustomed to. Which is fine, and actually good to learn that not every teacher will do that. He just ran into a whole slate of them at one time. Of course in the long run those (-) make very little difference in GPA especially because he sometimes benefits from a (+).  

He says he is over it and is glad he is being challenged. We’ll see. It was one of those things that my smart mature kid was saying things that made him sound like a teenager. 😉

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A couple of thoughts--

My dd had straight As in high school and we were expecting excellence in college. But here's the thing--I had to learn the difference between perfection and excellence. Thank goodness I did, a few years ago, because she made a couple of B+ grades this semester, and I would have been fearful that she wasn't working hard enough or something, which is rubbish. She had hard classes and there was the learning curve of freshman year, but also she "lost" her home, her parents' presence, and 2 boyfriends this year! So much change, and she handled everything beautifully. I am so proud of her. I am so happy that we figured out a healthy approach to grades! It sounds like your son is there, too, and you definitely are--good on you!

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Both of mine are perfectionists on their grades, but have been brought down a notch. One of mine wanted to quit, but thankfully a friend of ours who is also a professor talked him out of that.

I'm a professor, and their GPA's are probably going to be better than mine LOL. I went to an all-tech school for my undergraduate where they never curved and secretly prided themselves in the low percentage of students who actually graduated. Back in the day...

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On 5/8/2019 at 8:39 AM, teachermom2834 said:

My second ds is so disappointed in his second semester grades. This was his first year away from home but he had 36 de hrs so this actually wraps up his sophomore year.  He needed a 3.0 for the year to keep his scholarship and a 3.2 for the year to keep stay in the honors college and he met those easily. 

He has no plans for med school or any highly competitive grad schools. He is planning to go to grad school for business but we’re not talking Wharton or anything. He’s just a pretty average guy with average goals and I think a GPA between 3.0-3.5 is fine. He’s a good worker and ambitious and I think a B+ average combined with his other attributes will be fine. And even if it isn’t, if that’s the best he can do it is what it is, right? So he might not get into his first choice grad school or he might have to work harder for his first job or whatever but that is just life. It isn’t as if there is no life path for people that got Bs in college. 

I don’t know what I’m asking. I’m just frustrated that he is being a bit dramatic about getting lower grades than he would like. College is supposed to be hard. If he had straight As every semester I would wonder about his college, actually. He’s really still learning study skills for these classes that are more challenging than anything else he has had.

I’m personally happy that he went 500 miles away and came back in one piece with his scholarship secure and having made another year’s progress towards a degree. I was patient and encouraging at first but now I’m just getting annoyed that he is acting like the sky is falling because he got a 3.0 one semester. It’s over, no damage done, nothing that needs to be retaken, do better next time if you don’t like it. 

Anyone else have a kid that overreacts to grades? Has grade inflation become such a thing that Bs really are bad? Everyone can’t have a 4.0 every semester, right? Ack. He is driving me nuts. Lol

Yes, I think something like 40% of the students at our local high school have a 4.0 or above. A bunch of the teachers formally complained that they were being pressured by the administration to inflate grades and an investigation was done and, apparently, the teachers were wrong. It was found that they were not being pressured to inflate grades, lol.

My ds has finished his first year of school and has done very well, but he does have some Bs and B+s. He said he had some anxiety at the beginning of the year about getting anything below an A, but he seems to have let that go. He was a bit of a wreck during his first semester midterms and finals and every time he called me, I just reiterated that as long as he had done his best, that all was good.

Then, the second semester, he was so relaxed about it, I have to admit I was a little worried he wasn’t putting in a full effort, but he was and he did just as well as the first semester. He was just completely relaxed about it, which is wonderful. I don’t think he really stressed at all. He wasn’t shooting for a 99 in every class and I have tried to communicate to him that while I want him to do well, I also want him to have a life.   School is important, but so are other things.

Someone on the boards recently shared a quote that was something like “The difference between a 99 and a 91 is a life.”  So true!  I’ve really worked hard on moving toward this mindset with both of mine over the last couple of years. Because of homeschooling, they both really engage with the material in their classes and enjoy learning, but I think I put too much of a focus on grades at times because of all the pressures about college these days. I have worked hard to rectify that error.

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On 5/12/2019 at 11:30 AM, Mom0012 said:

Someone on the boards recently shared a quote that was something like “The difference between a 99 and a 91 is a life.”  So true!  I’ve really worked hard on moving toward this mindset with both of mine over the last couple of years. Because of homeschooling, they both really engage with the material in their classes and enjoy learning, but I think I put too much of a focus on grades at times because of all the pressures about college these days. I have worked hard to rectify that error.

 

I worked in research and then government program management with a lot of people from Cal Tech, MIT, etc. etc. I graduated from "upper middle" state colleges.

I did just fine. I worked my tail off and had a good sense of my abilities and where I could make a difference. And it carried me through. My salary was generally equivalent if not more because I was a rainmaker. My bosses were always amazed that I could find the right people to get what I needed and bring in work from people they gave up on. 

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On 5/12/2019 at 11:30 AM, Mom0012 said:

Yes, I think something like 40% of the students at our local high school have a 4.0 or above. A bunch of the teachers formally complained that they were being pressured by the administration to inflate grades and an investigation was done and, apparently, the teachers were wrong. It was found that they were not being pressured to inflate grades, lol.

snip

Someone on the boards recently shared a quote that was something like “The difference between a 99 and a 91 is a life.”  So true!  I’ve really worked hard on moving toward this mindset with both of mine over the last couple of years. Because of homeschooling, they both really engage with the material in their classes and enjoy learning, but I think I put too much of a focus on grades at times because of all the pressures about college these days. I have worked hard to rectify that error.

 

For high school, in my state numerical grades are used. 89-104 is the range for college bound.  An 89 in core academic classes is not going to do well in a demanding college program.  Probably the hardest thing to do is ask a kid who can easily get a 96 with zero effort to learn to study and bag the 98+.  Its a whole order of magnitude higher level of studying required to get that 98+, and it can seem so not worth it as it involves answering one question more correctly on each exam after a lot of self-study....but the Regent's Exams and the AP Exams show who really studied and who got lucky.  Because of this, I am not a fan of course compression.  I'd rather go back to the classroom where the full course was taught, not just the inclusion version that means anyone who wants the material necessary to earn an A on the Regents had better get a tutor or work thru a prep book as well as read all the missing material. Core Basic only, with half the class getting a 95 or better just doesn't lead to learning the material necessary to moving on in academics.

Edited by HeighHo

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Dd16 and I just discussed this recently.  She has perfectionist tendencies, but after several chats with her brother (who just finished his freshman year at college) she realizes that she needs to find a better balance.  Straight A's might be nice, but not at the cost that it often requires.

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For what it's worth:

My daughter had all As throughout high school; these were parental grades as well as those from a healthy number of classes at the local community college. She went on to attend a fairly selective liberal arts college. Her first semester, she got a mix of As and Bs. I was a little surprised, but she said it was a good thing because it took the pressure off her to maintain a perfect 4.0. (I hadn't realized that that had been a stress during her high school years.)

Regards,

Kareni

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Don't worry about it, he just needs a little time. I mean, my dd was disappointed in her freshman grades and took it hard, but now, a mere three years later, she accepts it with a measure of calm . . . 😂

 

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