Academic success is not solely defined by good grades

By Julia Defoe, Nov.5, 2023

After a long week of finals preparation consisting of endless nights looping back into a full school day, the time has come for students to check their grades and see how well they understood the material. To many students’ horror, they are met with a grade that leaves them feeling blindsided and wondering where they went wrong.

This is a common instance that can mess with a student’s mind at the end of the semester. Grades can be the most stressful topic for students to talk about, especially when they feel like their grades aren’t reflecting how well they actually know and understand the material.

LRC Director and mathematics and statistics lecturer, Tracy McDonald, shared her experience with a student who struggled to perform their best when in an exam setting.

“I had a student in my class and in my office the student could tell me everything,” said Mcdonald. “I employed the good tutor technique of being silent and letting her explain to me, and she did it perfectly. She totally understood it, but when it came to test time she had anxiety so she wasn’t able to show on her exam that she knew it (the material).”

The feeling of defeat that comes with a disappointing grade tends to only make already struggling students feel further unmotivated.

Zoe Lance, a communications specialist for the Student Success Office, shared her thoughts on the school’s perspective of reaching out for help.

“The other thing we try to communicate is doing this early and often,” Lance said. “It’s way easier to turn things around in the beginning of the semester than the Friday of week 15.”

A Forbes article pointed out good grades are not necessarily a reflection of intelligence and mirroring subject matter but rather a depiction of how personality types play a role along with intelligence. Personality type combined with preferred learning style are factors to a student’s overall success in a course.

The on-campus Learning Resource Center provides tutoring support services including subject specific support, learning strategies, writing skills and test proctoring, for students on campus.

“As a learning strategist I get to meet one on one with students, and we meet for about five sessions, and we cover specifically what they need to improve in terms of their study skills,” said Katherine Guerra, an animal science student and LRC peer tutor. “For example, a lot of people struggle with time management and overall, just how to study.”

McDonald encourages students to approach learning in a way that best works for them.

“We do extensive training certified through the College Reading and Learning Association, it’s actually (called) ‘preference’,” shared McDonald. “The tutors are trained to spot what is more effective for a student and their preference.”

McDonald also advises students do three run-throughs of their homework or exam in order to make the most of the time spent on it. The first step is to answer the easiest questions, the second is to spend a little more time on the intermediate ones and the third pass is to get those final, time-consuming ones out of the way. This way, if time is cut short, students make their best effort to give each problem its deserved time and effort.

Director of Academic Support & Learning Services Dora Lee pointed out a mistake many students make is not utilizing their accommodations.

“Receiving accommodations is not embarrassing, but I can see, depending where they grew up, their education environment, or even their home environment it could be seen as (reinforcing) a stigma,” said Lee.

The LRC is fully staffed with peer tutors who are ready and available to help in whichever topic help is needed in. To find out more information on the LRC and schedule an appointment with a tutor, visit its website or email

Feature Image Courtesy of Jose A. Mosqueda.

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