One of the biggest differences between the high school and university academic environments is how students’ grades are tracked. In our digitally connected world, parents are accustomed to being able to log into the school’s system with their own accounts to see the grades that teachers have recorded. Some systems even alert parents when new grades are posted, providing them with more information about their students’ course progress. In the university environment, this central grade repository no longer exists, and some instructors do not use the gradebook within the course management system to record grades. By the middle of the semester, both parents and students can struggle to answer the question, “So, how are your grades,” due to the lack of information.
As a parent, what do you do?
For parents of first-year and second-year students, Florida Tech provides midterm grades for all 0xxx, 1xxx, and 2xxx level courses. Instructors are asked to record midterm grades during the eighth week of the semester, which gives students information about their progress in their courses. By the middle of the ninth week of classes, students have the information they need to speak with parents about grades, course progress, and any necessary changes to study habits during the remainder of the semester.
Students may not always volunteer their course progress, especially if their grades are poor or if they are struggling in a course. Parents can begin the conversation by asking about midterm grades, but they can also follow up with some of the following questions.
- “Does this grade reflect the amount of time that you’re spending on the material?”
- “What assignments/assessments does this grade include?”
- “Do you think this grade demonstrates your ability in the course?”
- “Is this the grade that you want to keep by the end of the course?”
- “Would you consider working with a tutor to improve your grade?”
- “Have you spoken with your professor about this grade?”
- “Have you spoken with your advisor about your overall academic progress?”
When students aren’t doing as well as they would like in a class, they may avoid asking for help for fear of appearing less capable or less intelligent. Parents can remind students that the staff at the Academic Support Center and Math Advancement Center provide valuable resources for students who need additional assistance. Students can get help with a peer tutor or can attend small group studies for many of their first and second year courses. For students who struggle with writing, both the Academic Support Center and the Evans Library provide seminars on the mechanics of composition and the nuances associated with scholarly research. Parents can suggest that students meet with their advisors or speak with the staff at the ASC to explore study habits and academic strategies that will help them raise grades during the second half of the semester.