Mid-term grades are now posted and available for students through their my.Bellarmine.edu account. Almost all the freshmen signed a FERPA waiver to allow Bellarmine to mail grades to parents. But, grades haven’t been mailed yet; they will be sent before tomorrow (10/10) at noon!
I’m blogging this afternoon to address a few questions related to mid-term grades, ones that I’m sure parents and students are asking right about now. Freshmen may be thinking: “So these are my grades—what do I do with this information?” Juniors are wondering: “Where are my mid-term grades!? I would like to know what my grades are!” Most parents probably find themselves pondering: “What will and should my son/daughter do now that his/her progress is clear? What should our conversation be like?”
My first suggestion for students is: meet with your professors! The ARC collects and distributes mid-term grades for 100 and 200 level classes. We target freshmen and sophomores to help ease them into keeping track of their own progress. Although the ARC might contact some students directly to talk about concerning situations, most students won’t be required to speak with someone about their progress. Professors who provided mid-term grades know that students know their grades (ahem, just like parents do!). It’s up to students to follow-up with their professors and make an appointment to discuss those grades, especially ones that the student would like to be a bit higher (though that’s only one good reason to meet with professors). No matter the reason, professors are impressed when students take initiative. You can help ease your son/daughter into the idea of making that first appointment by reminding him or her that accessibility is what makes Bellarmine different than bigger colleges. Bellarmine professors chose this place for a reason—they want and believe in the one-on-one interaction with students.
Meeting with professors isn’t only for freshmen! Though 300 and 400 level classes don’t provide official mid-term grades, midway through the semester is still an unofficial check-point: “Who’s passing? Who’s struggling? Who might not make it? Who do I wish would approach me to ask what to do?” Although students aren’t handed an official mid-term grade, professors, especially those teaching upper-level classes in one’s major, expect that students will approach them to discuss concerns, or even just chat about interest in the course.
Finally, like I hinted at before, “we know that you know your grades” applies to parents (of freshmen and sophomores) as well. Whether you receive grades in the mail or not, you know that students have access to their mid-term grades! You’re probably eager to know the grades and see what your son/daughter’s reaction is.
Ideally, your student should initiate the conversation about his/her grades; many Freshman Focus instructors stress this. However, like speaking with his/her professors, initiating a “grades-talk” with parents isn’t the easiest task. So, although you might be anxiously awaiting knowing those grades, give your son/daughter an appropriate amount of time to approach you. (No, a text message today is not an appropriate amount of time!) If your student hasn’t breeched the topic yet, Monday of next week (the students’ fall break) might be more appropriate. If you find yourself with a silent student, don’t make assumptions (“He must have done terribly!” or “I know she got two Ds and will want to withdraw from two classes and change her major!”). Instead, start with open-ended questions: “Mid-term grades were posted last week. What did you find out?” Give your son/daughter the opportunity to break the news (even if you already got the grades in the mail).
Most importantly, be supportive, positive, and realistic! Ask if your son/daughter knows why the grade fell short. Is it “acceptable” (note: there are various definitions and implications to this word!)? Ask about planning, organizing, and studying. Ask if your son/daughter has used ARC tutoring. Lastly, help your son/daughter develop a course of action—if what he/she has been doing all semester is working—continue on! If not, it’s likely that a trip to the ARC for advising or a meeting with a professor is in order.