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How to Recover from a Lower GPA

November 15, 2019

So, midterm grades are out and you’re a bit stressed. The thought of graduating with a low grade point average and not landing your dream job – or any job for that matter – can be discouraging. Quit sweating it! It’s time to turn this sinking ship around! If you’re willing to put in the time and effort to make an impact on your chances at landing a good job, there’s still hope. Here are two effective ways to recover from a lower GPA and still be gainfully employed after graduation:

Finish Strong

When faced with that tough interview question about your grades, Director of Professional Development, John Ney suggests to show that with dedication, you have improved. Ney says, “A lot of the time I hear employers say ‘don’t give up.’” Jeff Boag, Director of Executive Recruiting at Melaleuca, Inc. told students in a luncheon at the Idaho State University College of Business last month, “If you have a lower GPA, it’s important that you finish strong and show improvement.” But no one said finishing strong would be easy. Getting your grades back up after they’ve been down for a while requires serious dedication. The first step to recovering from a less-than-satisfactory GPA is to put in the work!

There are many great opportunities at ISU to get assistance with group projects and assignments or help studying for an exam. Some professors at Idaho State University even take the time to provide supplemental instruction outside of the classroom. For instance, there are study hours for economics held in room 507 of the business administration building on Monday and Wednesday from 12 to 6 and on Tuesday and Thursday from 2:30 to 5. It might be a good idea to ask your professor if there are any supplemental instruction hours for a particular course! 

Not only can you meet with your professors during their office hours (which should be posted on their office door) or by appointment, but you can also meet with talented student tutors. These tutors are free to you and are there to help you every day, Monday through Friday in room 507 of the business administration building. (Check the bottom of the blog for more tutoring times!) Stephen Dudley, a marketing tutor says, “Tutors are a highly underutilized resource by students. Students should know that tutors can not only help you understand any concept that’s difficult to wrap your around, they can give you guidance on what things should be studied for the next test.” Another tutor says, “ I wish students knew that most tutors in the College of Business have almost no students to tutor and are eager to help. Students are paying (through their tuition and fees) for these tutors, and we are very bored with no one to tutor! Come see us; we are ready to help!” 

Another great resource for your use is the Student Success Center at ISU located in the Rendezvous building, room 323. The Student Success Center houses a writing workshop, help with English for students that speak other languages, GRE preparation, tutoring in math and other content areas, as well as Native American student services. Making an appointment is easy! Stop by the office or visit them online here.

When meeting with tutors or the ISU Student Success Center, it’s important to be prepared with specific questions after thoroughly studying the material and doing your best. Tutors suggest giving the material your best shot first, then seeking out these resources for help. There is little a student tutor or even a professor can do to help you if you don’t first know what it is exactly that you need help with. A good first step is to differentiate between what you know and what you could use a little help understanding. Secondly, make sure that when you use these resources, you have plenty of time ahead of you before an exam or assignment is due. This way, you’ll be getting the most out of your time spent seeking help! 

Next, identify and utilize new and improved resources! The College of Business at Idaho State University cares about its students’ experience and is continually investing in better technology. Every year, the ISU College of Business conducts a focus group with graduating students. Over the years, students’ comments focused primarily on study space and the need for a computer lab. Because of  this feedback, the CoB now has a Student Community Center - an open, glassed-in area on the second floor of the business administration building for studying and group projects. This space includes a board room with a conference table, projector and lockers for student clubs and four group rooms that can be used by students for group projects. Additionally, a Technology, Teaching and Learning Center has been added to the fifth floor which houses workstations with chargers and printing capabilities. These spaces also allow for connecting and working with your peers and friends. Making these connections with fellow dedicated students can lead to better grades! By the way, tutors are located in this space on the fifth floor!

Lastly, many employers look at your last semester GPA or your GPA from your last sixty credits of your major; for this reason, it’s important to find the right major for you. It’s easier to excel in a subject that you are good at and that really interests you, rather than choosing a major that is perceived as being more promising. Having poor grades through your last semesters of college hurts you in the long run. If you’re struggling in classes within your major, you might want to take a second look at your chosen major as another step to improving your grades. 


Get Involved

Ney says, “While GPA is the first thing that employers look at, involvement plays a large role.” This can mean joining one of the many clubs the CoB has to offer, including: Beta Alpha Psi, Marketing Association, Economics Club, Finance Association, Alpha Kappa Psi, Association for Computing Machinery and the Graduate Association of Business Students (GABS).  If you really want to make an impact on your resume, go big and become a leader! “You don’t necessarily have to be the president, but it’s good to show some kind of experience in leadership,” says Ney.

Boag of Melaleuca suggests another great way to land your dream job is to land a meaningful internship. ISU’s CoB has several opportunities pop up every week through the University’s unique Career Path Internship program. Students can find these opportunities by signing up for the weekly Professional Development newsletter here or by visiting room 510 in the business administration building. Many internships are offered in a variety of different fields within the CoB, helping you to find relevant experience in the career you’re seeking! This can make a world of difference on a resume, even assuming your GPA isn’t as high as you’d hoped it would be. But we’ve all heard multiple times that a resume chock full of leadership roles and internship experience is beneficial. Here’s another way to get involved that I bet you didn’t think of right away!

Get involved in your own academics! The CoB’s professors work together to create group and individual projects for students that are customizable and personalized. For example, Professor of Management, Dr. Tyler Burch teaches a course in which students create their own project with ideas that interest them. Kevin Andrus, an MBA student in this course who graduated in May of 2017, had the idea to study the relationship between horsemanship and management and propose a program in which an individual finds out more about their leadership style through the way he/she interacts with a horse. Wouldn’t you love to get involved in more projects that you’re personally interested in? Luckily for you, these kinds of possibilities are all over classrooms in the CoB at ISU!

Another way to get involved in your own academics is to become better at studying! In order to get reliable study tips, we asked Dr. Haydie Le Corbeiller, director of University Tutoring in the Student Success Center. Here are her top five study tips:

Plan your study time; set aside a specific time each day to study and do homework, preferably not late at night. Next, study in small blocks of time rather than binge studying. It’s better to study often rather than for long amounts of time. It’s also a good idea to repeat and review the material. Le Corbeiller says, “If you think you understood something on a Wednesday, try it again on a Thursday. This way you’ll help facilitate the information into your long-term memory.” You’ll want to use the resources available to you, including other classmates and the internet, too. If you can find the answer through multiple avenues, do it!

Finally, eliminate distractions. This is the only way to be completely involved in the material you’re studying – and thus in your education. And yes that means putting away your cell phone! Le Corbeiller says, “We aren’t as good at multitasking as we think and it takes us longer to recover from an interruption than we might think.” So refrain from sending that quick text or scrolling through Instagram as a “study break” that ends up lasting forty-five minutes. She adds, “If you know something is distracting, make the decision ahead of time to turn it off or at least put it away.” Now you’re asking, what if I use my cell phone for homework related searches? Fair question - try this! With the help of a free app like Study Block you can set timers for yourself and complete tasks, all while avoiding social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. This is going to take quite a bit of self-control, but it’s worth it. We’re talking about improving that GPA and landing your dream job here! 

Now that we know it’s just a matter of finishing strong and getting involved, it’s important to remember to not give up. The semester isn’t over yet – and neither are your dreams of getting that incredible position in a company after graduation, even though those midterm grades can be discouraging. It’s not too late to turn this sinking ship around!