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Do Grades in College Reflect a Person's Academic Potential?

by Pamela Woods, studioD

Students attending college should understand that grades measure academic success and subject area potential. College is a personal and financial investment in the future that can produce a rich lifetime educational return, gauged by the student’s academic scholarship. Students' good college grades should lead to securing successful employment. Poor grades at the college level sound many alarms and should encourage a student with potential to reflect and make changes to gain quick grade improvement.

First Year in College

First-year students, with keen focus and academic drive, are rewarded by good grades, scholarships and additional subject matter opportunities. Some new college students with solid academic potential fall prey to complex new obstacles like handling independence away from home and managing new kinds of schedules. According to the U.S. Department of Education, nearly 70 percent of college students drop out their first year (reference one). That alarming rate also means leaving college with the debt of a year’s tuition and few marketable skills to show for the dollars spent. Coursework success measured by good grades––must be the focus.

Academic Habits

If a student had sloppy academic habits before entering college, there is a tendency for those habits to continue in college. First-year students must respond quickly to course problems by seeking the advice of their professors, college tutors, counselors, resident assistants, study groups and other classmates until they can handle their specific learning issues well (reference two). Academic probation is another issue that may confront students who do not perform well in their courses. Too often students who are failing do not stop and take a personal inventory of their real life goals and what actually caused their inferior performance. Perhaps this student is in a program that does not fit his or her skill-set or long-term interests (reference three).

Rewards For Good Grades

Students who are earning good grades and are living up to their academic potential are rewarded for this remarkable achievement. They are presented with opportunities to work on special college projects or lab duties, are able to participate in internship opportunities with notable companies, are awarded academic scholarships and are given excellent letters of recommendations to top graduate schools for further study. Reward incentives from business are also given to high achieving college students. Some auto insurance companies and credit card companies, for example, offer discounts to college students who earn top grades (reference four).

Understanding College Potential

By participating in the college process, some students will be sifted out due to lack of progress in their area of study. College is not an easy or perfect fit for every individual. If the struggling student wants to continue, every attempt to improve grades must be made. Taking fewer courses per semester, adding additional prerequisites, checking on accommodations for physical, learning or psychological issues, working less hours at part-time jobs and participating in a campus learning support lab may help. If the student’s passion and potential for a course of study is solid, perseverance will usually overcome college learning gaps. Achieving good grades are just the start of a long road to success and fulfilled potential.

About the Author

Pamela Woods is a teacher and certified education specialist based in Michigan. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in studio art from Michigan State University, a Master of Arts in education and a Doctor of Education from Wayne State University. Woods also earned certifications in university teaching, art education, vocational education, infant mental health and gerontology.

Photo Credits

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