Student Life

Advisers, professors work with students to avoid failing grades

Waterford alum Alysha McClain demonstrates what many students experience: the weight of failing grades. (Photo Illustration by Taryn Wattles/Staff Photographer)

Waterford alum Alysha McClain demonstrates what many students experience: the weight of failing grades. (Photo Illustration by Taryn Wattles/Staff Photographer)

Whether it’s difficulty of courses or too many distractions, failing grades are always a concern for some students at Central Michigan University.

Director of the Office of Student Success Jason Bentley said the key to avoiding a failing grade is to seek help early in the semester.

“We all struggle from time to time and asking for help is the first step,” Bentley said. “Speak with faculty about the struggle and meet with an adviser or success coach to explore options. Often students wait until too late into the semester to seek the help they need.”

With the help of CMU staff, Bentley said that failing grades have become less common over the years.

“We have tremendously caring faculty and staff and many resources to support success,” he said. “In fact, reports show that for on-campus courses, only about 2.4 percent of the grades assigned are ‘E’ grades.”

Resident assistant and Shelby senior Mitchell Eilers has experience advising students in difficult situations. In worst case scenarios, Eilers said he has had to advise his residents to withdraw from a course if it was too late to better their grade.

“I would advise my residents to withdraw from the class because that would salvage their grade point average, even if they wouldn’t get a refund back,” he said. “I would also tell them to focus on their other classes and maybe try that class again next semester.”

Poor grades aren’t permanent, however, as the CMU Undergraduate Repeat Course Policy allows a retake of nearly any course.

“Students may attempt a course up to three times,” Bentley said. “All grades will appear on their transcript, but only the last grade received will be utilized in computing their cumulative grade point average.”

Many students struggle with difficult courses, and Troy sophomore Caitlyn Goins is not an exception. Goins said that while she made an honest effort, there were many factors that went into her failing her meteorology course.

“I didn’t understand anything and had no idea how to study for the class,” Goins said. “I’m retaking it this semester with a different professor, and she explains things so much better and sets up the notes in a much more organized way.”

Goins said her advice to any student failing a class is to adjust study habits based on each particular professor.

“If you are failing, hopefully you realize early on and can fix it,” she said. “Go go office hours and figure out how to study for the specific course and work with your teacher.”

While failing can be discouraging, students are encouraged to use the success resources CMU provides to get back up on their feet.

“Everyone struggles at some point,” Bentley said. “Sometimes our struggles make us feel embarrassed or inadequate. At CMU, we understand this human pattern and we are working very hard to make support readily available. From tutoring and supplemental instruction to one-on-one success coaching, help is just a visit, call or email away.”

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