New Release: Unit 14 Nomenclature Part B & Unit 15 Conjugation and Aromaticity are now available for purchase through the site. You can purchase the Semester 1 book for $40 at the Organic Chemistry Stores (W1-22) of the University of Alberta.

What to do When It’s the End of the Term and You are Failing

Facing an end-of-term failing grade? Explore steps to navigate the situation, from course withdrawal to intensive tutoring strategies.

If it’s close to the end of the term and you are heading for an F (or whatever your school’s failing grade is) don’t just wait for the inevitable. In almost all places, that grade will never be erased and severely impacts your future prospects. Most schools will not let you retake the course regardless of whether the F is erased or not. Here is what I suggest you do in order of preference.

  1. Drop the course immediately if the deadline hasn’t gone by. An F is usually an irreversible problem on your transcript. Do not delude yourself any longer that something miraculous will happen (i.e. you will suddenly find enough time to study or have an amazing insight). At the point that you are heading for an F you obviously never understood the old concepts and you will have no hope of understanding the new concepts which were built on the old . A W (withdraw) looks way, way better than an F and usually won’t put you in academic jeopardy.
  2. Some people arrive at this point by procrastination and delusion but some people have genuinely extenuating circumstances. If you have had a horrible term due to illness (physical or mental), family problems or financial distress then don’t suffer any longer. All schools have policies to allow you to drop the course even after withdrawal deadlines. Go to the undergraduate counsellors in your department or faculty and talk to them about your circumstances. This is not the time to be tough or proud. If you have arrived at this point due to circumstances beyond your control then an F is not really a reflection of your talent and efforts. It’s a reflection of your terrible bad luck. You need to acknowledge that and mitigate the damage to your future. Interviewers and employers will not be very interested about how you got that F; they will just notice that you have it.
  3. Sometimes you can’t drop and it’s a do or die situation. For instance you may be kicked out of your program or school if you don’t pass the course. Or maybe it’s your last semester and you can’t graduate if you don’t finish this course. If you have at least a little time before the final (e.g. 2-4 weeks) and a lot of money you can hire the best tutor you can find (ask your friends, TA or professor). Then intensively study only 2 things: 1. the most recent material/problems and 2. the practice final. Most professor weigh their finals heavily on new material so this is a smart strategy to get the maximum effect. Do not go back and study old material. Have your tutor explain these new concepts/problems (and fill in the minimum knowledge of old topics necessary). Then have them drill you on assigned and practice exam questions. I have worked with a couple of highly motivated students to successfully achieve this goal. They came several times in a week, paid close attention and tried very hard to understand what I am teaching them. Remember that if you are holding an F you probably have to get a solid C to average out to a D. There is no guarantee but it’s a chance.




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