With midterms coming to an end, the second half of the semester is starting. Although it’s a stressful time, students who have low grades and low attendance still have a chance to turn things around. 

The first thing you can do is begin attending classes more often. Students miss class for multiple reasons, some say mental health, others say the weather and stress can play a part too. 

“I get myself in the loop because I would have a rough day with mental health and I’ll miss my class to work on myself. I’ll miss a lot of classes to just take a day to focus on myself,” Kathleen Norton, a junior psychology major, said. “But when exams come around, I’ll have to study a lot and I’ll get negative about myself. Which restarts the loop of missing class.” 

If stress is a factor in skipping classes, it is recommended to start a routine.

“Routines can help a lot of people,” Mary Himmelstein, assistant professor in the department of psychological sciences, said. “So prioritizing sleep, making sure that you’re going to bed at a similar time every night and getting enough sleep ... setting the schedule can help to make it a priority.”

Stress is something anyone can be affected by. It’s good to be aware of how much stress you are going through because it can damage your organs, especially your cardiovascular system, Himmelstein said. Stress starts in your endocrine system, which controls your hormones. 

In addition, if you are getting overwhelmed during class or out in public, a thing you can practice is deep breathing.

“Basically, you breathe from your diaphragm. Five to 10 times you breathe in for maybe five seconds, maybe you hold it for two or three seconds and then you breathe out and it can calm you down,” Himmelstein said. 

A way professors have tried to fight low attendance is by using a program called TopHat to make class more engaging for students.

TopHat also takes automatic attendance during class with a code that comes from the professor. 

“90 percent of the students show up,” Jeremy Williams, assistant professor in the department of geology, said. “But the key is to make it a part of the grade and then they will come.”

Skipping classes can hurt your grade, especially if attendance is taken. The biggest thing you can do is talk to your professors about why are you missing the class. 

“It's always important that when there’s something that would hinder your performance in the class (you) go directly to the professor and tell them,” Williams said. “Tell the professor even if you're going to miss a test or an assignment. Professors are people, they understand.”

Attendance counting for a grade can make skipping class a complicated decision.

“I don’t like skipping classes because 99 percent of my classes take attendance for a grade,” Abigail Jones, a senior integrated language arts major, said. “I also think that skipping classes, unless you are sick or just really need a mental health break for that day, is more trouble than it’s worth. You have to make sure your homework is done for the day or you’ll miss even more points or fall further behind.”

Talking to your advisers can also help you figure out if you need to retake a class and plan out future semesters. There are also workshops called Save My Semester available through tutoring resources to help students who have not reached their midterm grade goals. 

Rachel Walter, an advisor for education, health and human services, ASL/English interpreting and special education majors, teaches a class called The Struggle is Real: Achieving Academic Success. 

This course is available through the College of EHHS and is worth one credit. The topics included in this course are: SMART goals, GPA calculations, study techniques, mental health, self care and finding your strengths. 

“We tended to focus on students that are on academic probation and then found out that a lot of students are taking it who weren’t on probation,” Walter said. “So struggling, or failure, to one student is very different to another student.” 

However, if your grade is not what you want it to be at the end of the semester, you could always retake the class. 

Kent State allows students to retake courses and receive the higher grade of the two, which will boost your GPA and remove the unwanted grade. 

You can talk to your advisor to discuss resources for academic success and should do this before you register for the retake of the course. You are only allowed to retake the course twice for credit. After three times you are banned from taking the course again.

Only classes labeled as “repeatable for credits” are allowed to be retaken more than three times. But any grade, pass or fail, is used to calculate your GPA.

If you are struggling with stress, anxiety and managing your schedule there is group counseling offered by the Deweese Health Center on Tuesdays from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., called Conquering Anxiety Group, Managing Stress of Everyday Life. This group counseling is free to students and is held on the 2nd floor in the C-conference room.  

Likewise, if you are in need of tutoring, Kent’s Academic Success Center offers scheduling and drop-in tutoring. Drop-in tutoring is offered in some dorms, the LGBTQ+ center and Student Multicultural Center.  

Tutoring is offered by appointment on the sixth floor of the library and at the Center for Undergraduate Excellence.

In the end, if you have to miss a class, the most important thing you can do is reach out to your professors through emails or office hours and explain your situation. 

“Use your resources,” Walter said. “Tell your support system when you’re struggling and the last one is very simple, but go to your classes.” 

Contact Ryanne Locker at rlocker1@kent.edu

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