Receiving a bad grade in university – we have all been there. Whether it has been a B or an F, getting an unexpectedly low mark back can be a disheartening experience for any student. Your heart stops, your stomach drops, and questions start to flood your head about what you did wrong, what you could have done, and maybe what you should do now.

Low or bad grades, especially if you didn’t think you’d get one, cause both academic pressure and a strong personal reaction. As much fun as the university experience can be, it can be one heck of a stressful and emotionally-charged time. However, with the right moves – and the responsible and healthy choices – it can be one of the most rewarding experiences, as well.

David Deen taught as a teaching assistant in Carleton’s School of Journalism while he was pursuing his master’s degree in journalism. He says students should show teaching assistants and professors a genuine intent to learn and grow. He suggests making an appointment to discuss the weaknesses in the assignment and to make it clear to them that you understand what you need to do to improve. Deen also makes a note to follow up after the next assignment to make sure you are on the right track.

“Emotionally, just remember the bigger picture: you are at university to learn. No one is perfect and we all need to grow,” Deen says. One of the most valuable skill-sets you can bring to the table is your ability to deal with challenges, he says, adding that it’s a life skill to take your shortcomings as a call to action.

Plus, it helps when you realize how lucky you are to study in Canada, he says.

“It’s harder to be bitter about your education when you remember so many people would love to take your place,” Deen adds.

As far as school resources go, the From Intention to Action (FIT: Action) program supports undergraduate and graduate students in the often stressful period of university.

Genna Pearce, a team leader at FIT: Action, says that the program helps students to better manage stress and improve their academic performance by dealing with the personal stressors that can often get in the way of school. Students meet one-on-one with a co-ordinator for one hour for 12 consecutive weeks. These co-ordinators are master’s-level interns trained in counselling.

“Often students feel overwhelmed and are not sure where to go,” Pearce says. FIT: Action can help students with supportive counselling, stress and time management, coping skills, and learning strategies.

For those who can’t come to campus, the Centre for Student Academic Support offers online learning strategy resources.  Health and Counselling Services has a resource library with links and apps to help you deal with stress.  You can also reach out to counselling services in your community.

Though low grades can be disappointing, it is important to remember that one bad grade does not define you who are or your intelligence. You got yourself this far and with these tips, you will have the confidence to try, try again.

By Bianca Chan