Bad Grade? Bounce Back in 5 Steps!

Now that the first round of midterms is almost over, you’ve probably started to get your first midterm grades back. If you didn’t do as well as you expected on an exam, don’t be discouraged! Taking college exams is not an easy task, especially if you’ve never taken one before. Now that you are more familiar of how an actual college exam works, let’s take some time to reflect on how you can improve the next time around!

Here are some tips that I have found helpful after getting a disappointing grade on a midterm.

Talk to your instructor

Stop by office hours and go over your exam with the instructor. This is really helpful because you’ll be able to go over your mistakes and find out why your answers were incorrect. Make sure to ask questions and always ask to clarify a topic that you do not completely understand. Your professors are always willing to give you guidance on how to approach their class, so don’t be afraid to reach out to them!

Develop new study habits

In high school, you may not have studied much for midterms. In college, studying may require hours at Thompson Library, memorizing pages of notes and study guides. This is not always the most effective way to study the material. In my time as a college student, I’ve learned that it’s not about how long you study, but rather how well you study. The Dennis Learning Center in the Younkin Success Center has several student resources for effective study skills. You can also attend Use Your Brain! Memory Tools for Effective Studying (register through the First Year Success Series) if you want to learn a new way to study!

Make use of the resources on campus

Ohio State has so many resources on campus. The university wants its students to succeed above and beyond and it is only fitting that we use these resources to our advantage. Check out these campus tutoring centers (if you haven’t already) for help with subjects that many students study in their first year.

Campus Tutoring

Hold yourself accountable

Too often we place the blame on the professor with a different accent, or on our friends for distracting us, but we need to be the one to take responsibility for the disappointing grade. Placing the blame on someone or something else is counterproductive because then you will never be able to recognize how you can do better in the future! If you do get a bad grade, it’s okay to be upset about it, but then try to find ways to improve yourself. The best way to deal with a bad grade is to put in the effort to do things differently and to strive even harder the next time for the grade you feel like you deserve.

Stay motivated

Getting your first bad grade on an exam can make you rethink a lot of things in life: your major, your career choice, and maybe even your time here at Ohio State. Don’t fret! Everyone struggles with staying motivated at one time or another…I know I still do! Just know that we can get through this together! I found this article about staying motivated in college to be helpful.

The most successful students are the ones who ask for help when they need it! Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support, whether it’s from your professor, your TA, your RA or even your Peer Leader. Just know that together, we are all here to help you pave your path to success! Stay positive, work hard and make it happen!

The 16-Week-Long Emotional Roller Coaster

The transition into college life can be a stressful time, as there are plenty of changes that you go through. Many of the major transitions occurred within the first couple days: including doing your own laundry, getting your own meals, and being more independent overall.

The next set of transitions we all face our first semester deals with academics. Some of us may have never needed to study, others may need to alter their study habits to acclimate to the college workload. Regardless of the changes you have had to overcome, we all go through a similar roller coaster of emotions our first semester here.


The first week is full of nerves. It’s exciting to finally live by your own rules. This can also be terrifying.

You might have experienced a broad spectrum of emotions on move-in day. It might have been a little nerve-wracking making your way through all of the traffic and sitting in the car as you made the journey from the Schottenstein Center to your residence hall.

Your parents may have been a little on edge knowing that they only had a couple more hours before they would be saying goodbye for a while. You most likely hadn’t met your roommate before move-in day and that in and of itself can be nerve-wracking — you will be spending a year in close quarters with this stranger.

But the best thing about move-in day is that it marks the day you start making your own decisions about your daily routine. No one is there to tell you when to go to bed, nag you about studying, or tell you that you can’t stay out late. That’s pretty exciting!

The first week also features all of the Welcome Week activities Ohio State has to offer. There were tons of events to go to including the student involvement fair (and there will be another involvement fair next semester).

WEEKS 2-4:

During these weeks you start getting into a routine and classes seem manageable. But it’s easy to choose being social over being studious. A lot of us fall victim to procrastination and a false belief that college will be as easy as high school. You can always study tomorrow, right? (WRONG)

WEEKS 5-7:

Then, midterms hit! Going into your first midterm you might not realize if you need to change your study habits but after your first week of midterms it will become fairly clear.

If your study habits aren’t where you need them to be you can always go get help. The Dennis Learning Center  provides workshops to improve your test-taking, note-taking, and studying strategies, just to name a few. Another great resource is your professors’ office hours. Don’t be afraid to use these to your advantage! No one knows what you should be focusing on better than your professor or TA and it can’t hurt to stop in and be more than just a name on a roster.

WEEKS 8-13:

If you haven’t felt homesick yet you might start to now. All the newness of college life has worn off. You have fallen into a routine and survived your first set of midterms. If your midterms didn’t go as well as planned, you might be a tad stressed about the rest of the semester. If you are feeling stressed and want to talk to someone, the Office of Student Life offers Counseling and Consultation Services, and you can get up to 10 free sessions as a student at Ohio State.

Week 14:

Thanksgiving break is finally upon us! Not everyone goes home for Thanksgiving but for those who do it’s a nice break from college life. It’s nice to see family and beloved pets. Whether you go home or not, school is the last thing on anyone’s mind during this week.

Another thing to be excited about this week is that we play our rivals from the school up North on our home turf! #GoBucks

Week 15:

Thanksgiving break left us all with just a taste of what is to come in another two weeks. Winter break is extremely close, but we must first make it through the last week of classes and then finals. Studying is the last thing anyone wants to do. It’s cold outside, it’s the end of the semester, we just want a break.

Week 16:

The beginning of finals is upon us!

We have made it to the home stretch. Ohio State offers tons of opportunities to take some much-needed study breaks. Keep your eyes peeled for different ways to relax. In previous years they have had therapy dogs come to Thompson Library. What’s more perfect than playing with puppies?

Remember to use your resources while studying! Go to tutoring sessions, go to office hours, form study groups, and take breaks!

After finals, enjoy your break! You deserve it!