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What Contributes to Poor Grades for College Students?

© 2024 Bonnett Chandler, MA, LPCC; Richard Chandler, MA, LPC; Kelly Krueger, MA, LMFT

It can be hard to know why you are struggling academically. It may appear to others as if you are lazy, undisciplined, or don't seem to care. In my experience in helping college students improve their academics, those pejorative labels are not accurate.

Often, poor grades are not due to a single cause, but a multitude of contributing factors, which we will explore.

Your Individual Learning Style. Are You a Visual, Auditory, or Kinesthetic Learner?

Discovering and accommodating your favored learning style pays big dividends in your quest to do well academically. Learning about the following three ways that people learn can help you to learn new information and skills.

Visual learners:

  • Access information from charts, graphs, and pictures.
  • Associating information with images helps you to understand and remember data.
  • Visual learners do well with accessing information and comprehending it through reading and writing.

Auditory learners:

  • learn from hearing the information and putting it together in a story-like way.
  • Discussing a topic and sharing that topic with others.
  • Putting together a presentation and delivering it to classmates also helps with comprehension and retention.

Kinesthetic learners learn by doing.

  • Getting their hands on things helps them learn; assembling and disassembling items engenders understanding and locks information into their memory.
  • Also, the emotional feeling of the information can help with retention as that feeling is associated and infused with data. Infusing the information with an emotional feeling helps it to be more relevant and memorable.

Since one's teacher may be using a different style than your preferred learning method to transmit information, it is helpful to:

  1. Ask your instructor to deliver the knowledge using strategies that are more aligned with your learning style, and not just his or her preferred method of delivery.
  2. Translate the information that you receive from the instructor's style to your preferred learning strategy. You could use the "text to audio" feature on many programs and apps to hear the words rather than read them, for example.
Female college student in St Cloud MN studying

Getting & Staying Organized

Your success in post-secondary education rides on your ability to manage your school workload by starting out being well-organized and staying well-organized throughout your school career. What factors help you with optimally organizing?

Pay close attention to your course's syllabus. Make sure you understand:

  1. What is expected
  2. When assignments are due
  3. What you need to do ahead of time to meet your deadlines

Commit to tracking your schoolwork and your life with a calendar

An online calendar helps you access it across devices. I use the Google calendar as it allows color-coded calendars within the schedule, allowing you to set organize and easily track your differing activities.

Schedule your study time. Give that scheduled study time as high a priority level as class attendance and your work schedule.

Please note that success in organizing, making plans, and following through with those plans may be impacted by Attention Deficit ADD/ADHD, whether diagnosed or not.

Other Factors that Impact Academic Performance

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Would Addressing Those Contributors To Poor Grades Help You?

Any of the factors listed above, as well as others that you can identify, can impact your school success. Address those disempowering elements so they don't drag on you and may leave you feeling drained, discouraged, and unmotivated.

Instead of getting your schoolwork done on time, you might find yourself procrastinating and avoiding your studies. Counseling therapy helps to clear obstacles that have led to bad grades, so you may be on your way to academic success!

Although I work with college-age men and women, I specialize in men's issues. Counseling, Life Coaching, and Consulting can help. Call at 320-223-9481, and we can visit briefly about your situation.

If it makes sense for you to schedule a counseling session after a short talk, you can do so. If not, perhaps I can suggest another resource for you.

Note: I work with college students throughout Minnesota, including St. Cloud State University, Saint Cloud Technical College, Minnesota School of Business, Rasmussen, St. Johns University, and the College of St. Benedicts.

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