Ask Ainsley: How do I recover my GPA?

Dear Ainsley,

I’m a third-year Arts student returning to McGill after a terrible Fall semester. In addition to struggling with the class material, I was coping with personal issues and my grades took a hit. I feel like the drop in my GPA erased all the hard work and progress I made in my first two years at McGill. I’m worried that potential employers will now write me off for internships and job offers. I don’t want one bad semester to impact my transcript so badly. How can I bring up my GPA? 

Sincerely, 

Gradually Perishing Academically (GPA) 

 

Dear GPA, 

Sorry to hear about your troubles last semester. Firstly, it is important to remember that life happens to us all, and one bad semester does not define you. Although it is significantly harder to boost your GPA than to lower it, it can be done, and McGill has several resources to help guide you on a path to success. Stop by the Arts Office of Advising and Student Information Services (OASIS) to set up an appointment with your advisor; this will reassure you that you are on track for graduation. Once there, a counselor can also direct you to your department’s office where you can talk to an advisor for your major and see how much flexibility you have in your schedule. Maybe you have room for electives, which would allow you to choose classes that cater more to your strengths and therefore help your GPA. Taking electives you enjoy will automatically make studying a simpler task. Additionally, seeing a counselor will help put you back on a steady, organized path and calm your worries in the process. When choosing electives, it is also a good idea to take the professor and structure of the course into consideration. If you liked a specific professor’s teaching style in the past, see what other courses they are teaching. If you struggle with final exams, look for courses with essay-based finals or vice versa. 

When it comes to courses required for a specified program, raising your overall average can be a little tougher. Luckily, McGill students are always creating online Facebook pages and arranging study groups so make sure to seek them out and see what works for you. Your peers at McGill can be your best assets for help; they’re going through the same struggles as you, and solidarity is key. 

In addition to strategies within classes, it is also important to organize your life outside of coursework. Get out your calendar and see where you can make cuts. Is there an extracurricular activity that you no longer find fulfilling? Is there a social engagement that is eating into your study time? Make this new year a time to focus on yourself. It also might be beneficial to make a study schedule as studies suggest that being organized can ease stress and anxiety. So plan ahead, because if your mind isn’t at ease, your grades will suffer. Write down what needs to be done and allocate specific times for each task so that your workload will be less daunting and ensure you stay on track for a better semester. 

Lastly, make time in your schedule for pleasure. Worrying about grades is a common part of university, but it should not be the only part. Future employers may look at your GPA, but they also look at other things like your resume, recommendations, and extracurriculars, so remember that grades are not the only thing you should be focusing on. Keep working toward success and don’t be too hard on yourself! 

Wishing you all the best,

Ainsley

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