You just got your grade report.  It’s not what you were hoping, but you knew you were struggling this semester. You had to switch to to online classes mid-semester and it really through you off.  You got really anxious that your instructor was going to call you out.  You stopped attending mid-semester and when your parents asked how school was going, you acted like you didn’t hear them or made something up or quick changed the subject.

You feel really bad about not doing well and don’t want anyone to know.  You aren’t sleeping well because you feel so depressed.  You got dropped from the next semester since you didn’t pass some prerequisites.  Now you don’t just feel anxious you feel hopeless and depressed.  You sleep all day since you think you can’t get to your goal if you can’t do college.

But what do you do now?

A. Blow it off. You won’t have to deal with it till the after the holidays.

B.  Hide it. You don’t want your parents or someone else to see it!

C.  Quit College.  You figure you maybe not college material anyway.

D. None of the Above.

Let’s look at the options above to see what you should do.


Ah, procrastination, and denial.  You may be able to enjoy your holidays and break by not thinking about it, but when the new semester comes, you’ll be in the same place you were today.  However, the options that you have now may not be available.  This is a natural reaction to avoid the consequences of a bad semester, but if you want to achieve your career goal or the goal of a college degree, it won’t get you there.  By talking to your advisor now, you will be able to find out what your options are and deadlines for possible appeals.  If you are getting Financial Aid, you will find out what your poor grades did to your Financial Aid Eligibility for the next semester. The longer you procrastinate, the fewer options you may have.

Additionally, you need to know if your semester GPA (Grade Point Average) places you in academic jeopardy in your major.  Will you need to appeal that?  (Can you?)  Do you need to revisit your major selection decision?


Again, this is just putting off the inevitable.  The chances that the person who paid for your classes will want to know how you did is pretty high.  Not necessarily to follow up and make sure you didn’t waste time, but to see if it went well to celebrate, or congratulate you.   If you didn’t do well, it is best to find out why not, (unless you are sure it was wasting time–and even then, you can decide what you want to do next time.


For many people, this is the knee jerk response that they kick themselves for later.  So before you decide this option, think about your reasons for starting college.  Was it to have a better career option down the road? Was it to go for a particular career, expand your knowledge?  Are these options available without college?  Or maybe it was a secondary benefit.


You are worth going after your goals.  One bad semester won’t break your college career.  But you can’t ignore it.  Who can you talk too about what happened?  If you think it could be a mistake, you should go back to your instructor.  He or she can review your grades on assignments or previous assignments.  Did you miss some assignments? How many points did you lose for that?  Did you miss classes?  Was that part of your grade?  Check your syllabus for this information or talk with your instructor.

Maybe you can repeat the class again.  This time you could get some help learning how to deal with online classes.  You probably wont be the only one since this caught a lot of students by surprise.

Decide who to talk to whether its your instructor, a tutor or a counselor.  If your Depression or Anxiety is something that you have experienced previously or more long term and it is affecting your sleep, eating, or getting along with others or the way you feel about yourself or the future, you Depression and Anxiety may be something more than just being bummed about your class. I encourage you to contact me at Emerging Adult Counseling at 651-401-3218 or email me at  or visit our website at


  1. Contact your former Instructor by email or phone.  Ideally, this would happen before the grades are even given. But if this didn’t happen, calmly contact your former instructor and ask them (politely) to meet with them to discuss what happened.
  2. Remember they are likely very busy getting ready for the next semester. Try not to go in defensive.  Explain you thought you did better and want to see where you failed so that you can do better next semester.
  3. If it was related to missing class, ask your self if the absences were essential–for example, you have a disability or mental illness that acted up and you needed to go to the doctor or therapist. You can’t get excused now, for the past but if they were related to a disability, did you register for the Disability Access Services office.  If not, maybe you could go talk to them.  Even if you are doing better now, it might be good to plan ahead and go talk to them to see how they might help you.
  4. If it was related to not quite understanding the material, or who to use the online class software, perhaps you could check out the tutoring services for any classes you are taking next semester that might be tough.  It’s not only the poor students that see tutors.  Strong students don’t let lack of understanding get them down. They see it as a challenge and ask for help from the instructor during office hours and/or seek out tutoring services if the college offers it.
  5. If you had personal problems or if you’re depression or anxiety you should see your therapist.  If you don’t have a therapist and are in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, contact us at Emerging Adult Counseling.

Every student has a semester that they didn’t do as well as they would like.  The key is to learn from it and make changes so that you don’t have too many of them.  This is a chance for you to make some changes in how you did things to hopefully see a change in the results.

The old saying is true, “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you always got”.

To schedule an appointment with me (Sue Smith MA, LMFT)  either in our White Bear Lake office or Online through our confidential Online Portal contact me by clicking the BOOK NOW link on our home page.

Sue Smith

Author Sue Smith

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  • Sue Smith says:

    Are you recovering from a bad semester? Maybe you’re sitting out this semester voluntarily, or maybe the college has required to you sit out, What are you going to do next? What help do you need? How can our community help?
    Let us know!

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