Dec. 5, 2008
The bad news is that low freshman grades can dog you for many years thereafter if you don't act now to reverse the trend. They'll drag down your GPA, even if your marks improve, which may ultimately have some impact on graduate school admissions and even on job opportunities and career paths. The good news, however, is that, if you're able to dig out of this hole, your struggle this semester will not play a starring role in your future--or perhaps not any role at all. Grad school admission committees will note a "rising record" and pay minimal attention to a rough beginning. So you're smart to address this issue promptly, to confront your fears instead of burying your head in the sand.
What can you do at the last minute?
Finally, use your vacation time ahead to think about what you are studying and why. Are you taking classes that excite you or are you fulfilling parental expectations? Is your college the right fit for you or should you be exploring other options? For example, if the burden of five courses (which sounds as if it may be the norm at your school but definitely isn't elsewhere) seems too much, consider choosing a college with a different average load. For example, colleges on the "trimester" system typically expect students to take three classes per trimester. Colorado College and Cornell College (in Iowa) offer a "Block Plan," where students take only one class at time (!) for mini-terms that last about a month. For those who don't like to multitask, the Block Plan can be a super way to focus all efforts on just a single subject for a short period of time. (I once took a "Block Plan" grad school course. It met 13 hours/week for just three weeks. It was the only time in my college career that I did all the required reading and all the optional reading, too.)
Although you may be scared right now, you may someday look back on your current situation as the catalyst that inspired you to dig inside yourself and figure out where you really want to be and what you really want to do.
Good luck with your finals and with your decisions ahead.
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