This article is a continuation of a recent article about Helping College Students Tell the Truth – Part 1.
College as a Major Life Transition
Attending college is a big life transition. Many students underestimate how difficult it will be to stay focused and address all the new expectations. This is especially true for those with ADD or ADHD.
Pressure to perform is often low early in the semester. Yet the workload picks up rapidly as midterm exams and essay assignments worth 30% of their grade start competing for the student’s time and attention! Sometimes students take an exam in the morning and a long essay is due that afternoon!
If students have not done the groundwork to perform well on a midterm or major essay, they may be too ashamed to tell the truth about their grades.
Keep Up with Lead Indicators
It is much more likely that your son or daughter will be tempted to deceive you about grades on exams if you have not been keeping up with “lead indicators” of exam results.
Examples of Lead Indicators:
- Frequency of class attendance in a particular course
- Number of study hours per week
- Number of hours internet surfing, playing video games, and socializing
- Completed homework assignments
- Quiz grades
- Early start on multi-page essay assignments
Parents should monitor and ask questions about these activities well before the first essay or midterm exam. That way, students are much more likely to tell the truth about grades.
Of course, an exam might be more difficult than anticipated or the student might study the wrong material. In these cases, students are generally not ashamed. They typically are comfortable explaining their grade to a parent or coach.
Find the Right Balance
As coaches of college students, our philosophy is that if the parents are paying for tuition and expenses, they have a right to keep a close eye on how their “investment” is paying off! The practice also encourages students to tell the truth throughout the semester. In fact, we strongly suggest that parents require login access to their child’s college online account.
Your son or daughter may resist close oversight and accuse you of being “intrusive” or being a “helicopter parent.” If so, you can negotiate the frequency of check-ins on his/her progress. If you have login access, you might not feel that you need to ask your child so many questions about how he or she is doing.
Another option is to ask your student to send you computer screenshots of dashboard pages that show course grades. These might be sent each weekend and could keep you posted without actually having login credentials.
If a student develops good habits and gets acceptable grades, parents may elect to back off even further. But, be careful not to back off too soon, especially in the freshman year. Some professors are slow to post grades. This creates a lag time between when exams or essays are completed and when grades actually show up online.
Avoid Obsessive Monitoring
If you know your child’s login credentials, don’t become obsessive about monitoring grades and other activities. Don’t be like the people who check their stock portfolios several times per day! Yet, as we have already noted, don’t wait until after the mid-terms or important essays show up on the dashboard. By then, it may be too late to withdraw from a course or make an acceptable final grade.
A word of caution – monitoring grades can be complicated. Don’t assume that the grade you see online is necessarily final. There may be opportunities to improve course grades with extra credit assignments. Some professors drop the lowest quiz or exam grade. There is usually a page on each course syllabus that describes how final grades will be calculated in that course. Percentages are often given for homework, quizzes, essays, the final exam, etc.
Need Additional Help or Guidance?
Do you think your young adult child might benefit from having a coach? Is the level of monitoring we are describing here much more than what you bargained for when you sent your adult child off to college? Probably so! Yet, we have seen that many college students clearly benefit from their parents helping them learn to monitor their own progress. This way, there are usually far fewer surprises for the parent or the student at the end of the semester!
Please Comment (below) or, contact us if you have any questions about our suggestions and recommendations.