How To Bounce Back From a Bad Semester

A bad GPA from one semester is not the end of the world IF you respond correctly.

We all have tough semesters. It felt like a professor was against you the entire time; a family issue took up most of your energy; too many programs wouldn’t work no matter how long you spent coding; or maybe, you just played Call of Duty way too much last semester. So you didn’t do too well last semester GPA-wise; that’s OK! You can bounce back! Just DON’T do these things:

    • The longer you dwell on the situation, the longer you prevent progress. Your GPA does not define you. You DO deserve to be here. You are not perfect; no person is.
    • Dwelling on it is a no-no, but USING your GPA to make goals is a “yes-yes”! How are you going to know where you are heading and how to get there without looking back, at least briefly? Use last semester’s GPA to calculate what grades you need to get this semester in order reach your preferred GPA. The NC State website has a GPA calculator available for use.
    • During the first few weeks of class (if not the first day of class), at the end of the session, you should introduce yourself to the professor. This sets up the potential for future interactions that can one day work to your benefit. The professor now knows your face and/or name, so when you start participating in class and sending emails, you are familiar to them. When extra credit opportunities arise, do them. When you can answer a question, answer. Do NOT dim your light and by the end of the semester when it is time for exams to be curved and grades to be determined, your participation in class and sometimes outside of class in a club or event related to the subject, may speak for itself. You could be setting yourself up to earn a better grade than what you would have gotten had you sat down and shut up.
    • Did you suffer from poor study habits last year? Couldn’t get your head in the books and your body out of the party? Took too many difficult classes at once? Didn’t carve out enough time to properly prepare for each class? Priorities got a little mixed up? Just flat out had a negative attitude? That’s OK, just don’t do it again this semester. You know what you did that didn’t benefit your GPA before; and if you don’t know, reflect on it, and grow from it so that this semester can be better than the last.
    • Yes, the dreaded and blessed grade exclusion, it is not a myth. It can be your new best friend or your deal with the devil. Use it too soon or for a grade that is not that terrible, and you could regret it down the road. But use it at just the right time, for just the worst grade, and it can do wonders for your GPA. Talk to your advisor about the best decision for you and if using one is necessary. See if grade exclusions are an option at your university and ask your advisor if it may be right for you. Also, have an idea of how your future courses per semester will be in order to minimize your chances of needing another exclusion. It is best to make a well-informed decision and sometimes you are an even better determiner of that than an advisor.
    • We all get off-track every now-and-then, but don’t let it be a permanent derailment. Find your motivation for doing well and use that drive throughout the semester until you finish strong. Why are you in school? Why do you want/need to do well? Who else wants success for you? Do you plan on graduating? –ever? If you do, get it together and let’s make it happen.
    • The recovery process is not always easy or speedy, so try to have someone there to help you along the way: a counselor, a friend, a parent; someone who can help take some weight off your shoulders. You may even want to form a study group or get a buddy from class to help hold you accountable for classwork and you do the same for them.
    • Just be great!

All of these “DON’Ts” can be beneficial, but the best way to start this new semester is to speak over it; go ahead and declare that this semester will be better than the last and claim that you will already achieve the GPA that you are confident you can accomplish by the time the semester draws to a close. Remember, you CAN bounce back from a rough semester.

This piece comes to us from one of our talented content contributors, Cynthia Sharpe. Her bio is below and if you would like to work with us you can email us here!

Cynthia M. Sharpe, is a May 2015 graduate of NC State University. Cynthia graduated with a B.A. in English with a concentration in creative writing and currently aspires to pursue an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. “As I let my own light shine, I unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” -Cynthia M. Sharpe, inspired by Marianne Williamson

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