So, I Just Failed a Midterm…Now What?

You may not have received your grade yet, but you do have a sinking suspicion that is growing into a panic. You have failed a midterm—or two. You are stressed, your self-esteem just took a huge hit, you didn’t meet expectations… And now you wonder what comes next.

Breathe. Take a little time to regain your perspective. And know that you are not alone. Far from it. According to ‘First-Year College Experience,’ a survey conducted by the JED Foundation:

  • 50% of college students reported feeling stressed most or all of the time and 36% did not feel as if they were in control of managing the stress of day-to-day college life.
  • More than half of students (51%) found it difficult at times to get emotional support at college when they needed it, and more than 1 in 10 students (11%) say they did not turn to anyone for support when needed.

Adding insult to injury, many of those who reported feeling unable to control stress were also among those with lower grades.[1]

If it wasn’t clear at the beginning of the semester, it is clear now: You need some support. That’s why we are here. We can help. As our founder Grant Leibersberger puts it, once you have failed a few midterms, “This is no longer a rescue mission, it’s a recovery mission.” Part of that recovery is doing what we can to preserve your academic record and set you up for success next semester.”

In other words, a bad midterm is actionable data. The Stanford Undergrad Cardinal Compass calls a bad midterm “pure gold when it comes to doing better…Not performing as well as you hoped or expected on an exam or an assignment is disappointing, but it can also offer you an opportunity to reflect, reconsider, and redirect.” [2] Even a bad semester can shed valuable insights when you know how to look for them. We do.

We know how to recognize patterns and create pathways to intentional change and success. We know how to help students become aware of their stressors in their early stages. Thus equipped, we can start to strategize a better approach to taking exams, to studying, to college life in general.

Stress and anxiety are huge contributing factors to a student’s failure to thrive in college. The JED Foundation survey also found that “most students (87 percent) said their high schools provided preparation on college academics, but not how to adjust emotionally to college.” [3] Not knowing how to adjust emotionally creates stress. The body’s stress response increases cortisol, which impacts the brain’s control over mood, motivation, and fear. Continued stress activates the sympathetic nervous system and causes the muscles in the body to be in a more or less constant state of fight-or-flight.

Your Focus Collegiate College Life Coordinator can support you in:

  • Getting rid of the noise – By clarifying what is important, your coach can help you refocus on your true goals and priorities.
  • Simplifying – There are only so many hours in a day. Your coach will help you develop a schedule that makes best use of them and brings you closer to achieving your goals.
  • Completing the semester and building on success – Your coach can help you develop realistic strategies for completing the semester.
  • Building a resonant relationship – This is the Focus Collegiate Special Sauce. New findings in neuroscience report that working collaboratively in trust-based, resonant relationships actually activates parts of the brain associated with openness to new ideas and stimulates important neural circuits and stress-reduction systems in the body.

Do you feel like you’re in a crisis? Then it’s time to get started. President Kennedy once said, “The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger–but recognize the opportunity.”

Focus Collegiate is built for these moments. Get out your brush…




Photo by Lacie Slezak on Unsplash

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