How to deal with grade drops from elementary to college


A drop in grades can happen anytime from elementary school to college. If you’re a parent concerned for your child’s drop in grades, we’ll explore how you should approach the issue. For those of you who are students entering college, the second half of this article will tackle the shift in grades that most experience entering post-secondary. With hard work, dedication, and a good method to improving grades, it’s possible to rectify a drop in grades.

How to Deal With a Drop in Grades

As parents, you love your children and want them to succeed in everything they undertake. When it comes to school that generally translates to expecting them to bring home good grades — or grades in line with their natural abilities.


When your child has been working up to the level of his or her ability and, all of a sudden, grades drop, it’s not surprising that you will worry. However, before you react strongly and try to try to rectify the situation, it’s important to take a deep breath and evaluate what is going wrong.

Try not to be accusatory. By using “what” questions, rather than “why” questions, you’ll get more facts, and your child won’t be tempted to avoid blame by making excuses.


First of all, don’t panic. This may be just a blip on the screen, but it’s best to investigate it. Bear in mind that as children grow, they have ups and downs. Usually, a decline is grading is gradual, according to, so if there is a sudden major plunge from good grades to bad ones, it is even more crucial to investigate.

Unearthing the Reasons For Grade Drops

Certainly, you need to determine the cause of your child’s lower grades. There are any number of reasons for a dip in performance, and your response will depend on identifying the real root of the problem.

  • Is your child experiencing vision or hearing problems in the classroom?
  • Is there a problem understanding the subject matter and a fear of asking for assistance?
  • Perhaps there is something outside the classroom having an impact: bullying by another student, hanging around with a different crowd or troubles with a girlfriend or boyfriend?

Communicate With Your Child’s Teacher About Grade Drops

A talk with your child’s teacher is a useful step toward sorting out the issues that are involved. If the teacher is a good one, he or she should have some sense of what is going wrong, either with a child’s understanding of the subject matter or with his or her behaviour.


Talk with your child, too. Perhaps he or she doesn’t see that not completing homework or other bad habits have become a pattern, not an occasional mistake. This year’s teacher may have higher expectations than last year’s, which may account for the change. In addition, the curriculum may be more challenging than in the past.


Get a sense of your child’s view of the change in marks. Try not to be accusatory. By using “what” questions, rather than “why” questions, you’ll get more facts, and your child won’t be tempted to avoid blame by making excuses.


Ask your youngster if he or she has any solutions to the problem to suggest. Remember, however, that your child can’t necessarily dig him- or herself out of a hole without assistance.

While you’re exploring causes, it’s also time to take an honest look at yourself. Are your expectations in line with your child’s abilities? Are you placing undue pressure on your child to excel? What’s really important is that your child is learning; if he or she is falling behind in math for example, assure your child that you’re there to help. You want your child to retain a love of learning that will benefit him or her in school and throughout his or her life.

Turning Your Grades Around

If your child’s grades have dropped suddenly and precipitously, you may want to talk with a professional and have your child assessed. A trained therapist can shed some light on problems such as depression, anxiety or substance abuse. If your child needs ongoing professional help, don’t hesitate.


In order to get your child back on track, you will need to get involved in helping him or her manage homework. Children aren’t born with good study habits – they are learned. You can help your youngster develop the proper approach, which will pay off throughout his or her academic career since it can help raise GPA.


Structure is important when it comes to studying. Good students have a specific space for doing their homework, someplace where they can avoid distractions. They also choose a time of day when they are at their most alert. A focus on studying also means no turning off cellphones and, if necessary, wearing noise-cancelling headphones. Remind your child that you will be monitoring his or her work during homework time.

A Plan of Attack

As a parent, you can also help your child create a plan of attack for the day’s homework so he or she knows how to approach a complex subject or multiple assignments. Generally, tackling the most difficult homework first — while a child is fresh — yields success.

You can also encourage him or her to seek help from the teacher or from peers in understanding difficult concepts. There are some excellent online learning options available that can really support your child’s learning.

If you are looking at rewards for good grades or punishment for not coming up to scratch, bear in mind that rewards or their absence doesn’t change behaviour. What does prompt a change in behaviour? Three answers come to mind:

  • Being held accountable
  • Learning problem-solving skills
  • Having a plan and sticking to it

Most important, take heart. Youngsters are resilient and this, too, shall pass.

How to Get Good Grades in College and How to Deal With a Drop in Grades

If you’re a college student, this portion of this article will likely hit close to home. You’re graduating from high school and the future looks rosy. You’ve been accepted at the university of your choice, a prestigious one, and you’re planning on attending medical school after you earn your bachelor’s degree. As a straight-A student, you’re confident about your career path – what could possibly go wrong?

Is a D a Passing Grade in College?

Actually, one likely scenario features a drop in your grades. As surprising as that may sound, especially if you’re prepared to put in your usual effort, most students see their grades fall once they enter university. A research study by Felice Martinello, a professor at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, and colleague Ross Finnie, cited in Maclean’s magazine, found that students see their grades fall by an average of 10 points as they university careers get underway.

“You’d think that maybe, oh, it’s the weaker students, that once they go to university, they’re really going to get killed, but it turns out that’s it’s the 90 plus group,” Martinello told Maclean’s.


Using data from Statistics Canada, the researchers found that almost 50 per cent of students saw their marks drop by a full letter grade and 23 per cent experienced a drop of two letter grades or more. Approximately 25 per cent of students maintained their high school marks, while only 2.5 per cent performed better than they did in high school.

Bad Grades in College – the Big Surprise

Even more surprising, the researchers found that those who were the biggest achievers in high school saw their grades drop most sharply. Students with high school averages of 90 or better experienced a drop in grades of 11.9 points, while those whose averages were in the 60-79 point range saw their grades fall by only 4.4 points.

“You’d think that maybe, oh, it’s the weaker students, that once they go to university, they’re really going to get killed, but it turns out that’s it’s the 90 plus group,” Martinello told Maclean’s.

College Grade Point Average and Expectations

As hard as this may be to believe, it becomes more understandable when you examine the changes in university admissions and student populations over the past decade or two. As the competition for university places becomes fiercer, universities can be more selective and accept only the students with the highest grades. Classes are filled with outstanding students from across the country and the world, and not all of them will earn As, whether due to outside factors or performance in comparison to their peers. This creates an environment where it seems like one is doing bad in college, despite having been an excellent student in the past.


At the University of British Columbia, for example, the average entrance grade in 1990 was 70; in 2000, it had climbed to 80 and, by 2010, it was expected to be 87. Many of the top Canadian universities, such as McGill and Queen’s, won’t look at students whose high school grades average less than A. Maclean’s found that even many less selective universities were requiring at least a B average.

How to Get Better Grades in College

How do you cope with the shock of earning grades below the A’s that dotted your high school report cards? It may not be easy to get a good gpa in college, but here are some hints for adjusting to the realities of university grading and outline how to get better grades:

  • Adjust to the new situation. Understand that you are in a much more demanding, competitive environment. You will generally be judged on your work and your work alone, since your professor may not even know your name, given class sizes today.
  • No points for effort. Realize that high schools often inflate grades and your work may be judged differently at this level. Preparation isn’t enough; the product is what matters.
  • Don’t point fingers. Accusing a professor of grading you unfairly will only put antagonize him or her. Instead, approach your professor in a non-threatening manner, seeking to understand why you did so poorly on a particular assignment. In addition to getting some valuable insights into the course and the professor’s approach to the material, it signals to the professor that you are genuinely interested in doing better.
  • Share your concerns. Don’t bottle up your emotions. Talk with your academic advisor, registrar’s office or someone at the career and counselling centre about your concerns. They can point your toward assistance with the coursework and help you accustom yourself to the new expectations and standards.
  • Take lessons. Most universities offer sessions about taking notes and studying efficiently. Even if you feel you know how to study properly, it can’t hurt to attend a session and get additional tips.
  • Join or form a study group. By working with classmates, you’ll have access to perspectives that differ from yours, as well as support. Undoubtedly, you’ll discover you’re not alone in coping with grade shock. Together, you may find ways to improve your outcomes.
  • Query your classmates. Is there someone who is a star in class? Why not ask him or her for hints about approaching your coursework. Perhaps he or she has a different understanding of what is required and can shed light on what your professor is seeking. They may have some studying tips for college that you previously didn’t work out yourself.
  • Hit the books. Be prepared to put more time and effort into your work. In university courses, you can’t get by on charm or good luck. It takes hard work.

Grading System in College


So, brace yourself for the challenge of university and prepare for the fact that there may be some struggling in college. You may decide that a B is perfectly acceptable, given the higher level of expectation; you may want to put your remaining energy into extracurricular activities instead. Or, you may find that it is invigorating to be asked to rise to the occasion, and as you accept that challenge, you will not only learn about the subject matter; you’ll discover that you are more determined and disciplined than you expected.

Either way, don’t despair. Earning your degree and learning the materials are the real goals. Don’t dwell too much on the question of “what is a good GPA in college?”.Once you’ve graduated, no one will ask whether you received an A or a C in any particular course.


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