Grade point salvation

Category:  News
Wednesday, October 4th, 2017 at 5:11 PM

Freshman year can be difficult for some — it’s a time of transition from the lackadaisical responsibilities of high school to the tougher responsibilities of the collegiate lifestyle.

Some students are able to adjust to this new routine, but others struggle with their first years...leaving a lasting mark on their GPA. Aarron Hunsinger, Edinboro academic success coordinator, said the number one reason college students struggle their freshman year is because they’re unable to successfully adjust to college life.

“There isn’t that handholding (in college), and there’s the expectation that you read and assimilate some of that information on your own — you don’t have somebody telling you to do it.”

He continued: “The absolute quickest way to improve a GPA is to retake courses that are poor letter grades. It becomes tricky because there are financial aid implications when you’re repeating grades, so you should always speak with financial aid before you repeat a course.

“If you just didn’t apply yourself and you can pass the class, the best thing to do is repeat it because the F will always remain on your transcript, but the repeated class will exclude the effect of that F on your transcript,” he said.

Senior psychology major Lisa Montanez began her freshman year as a pre-med major and a student-athlete playing volleyball.

“Certain classes I couldn’t keep up with because I was exhausted from everyday practice and being gone every weekend,” she said. “My grades suffered and I ended up failing my biology class. It was devastating.”

She had to repeat that course and ended up failing another class the following semester. She changed majors and took 18 credits, and did much better academically.

She said she went to the library almost every day and spent hours in there studying, making flashcards and making study guides. She also visited a tutor to help her with her more difficult classes.

She said: “I was highlighting the material in the books and applying it to the examples in my class, as well as my own life, if appropriate. It was stressful, but those As were much more than a letter — they represented my hard work and perseverance.”

Senior speech and hearing sciences major Kayla Bittner had a similar experience and said transitioning from high school to college was difficult for her because of the courses she was taking.

She didn’t use any on-campus resources, but she started to study more actively by writing out notes by hand instead of just reading the material, and she would have family and friends quiz her.

She wishes she would have taken her more difficult classes with other professors because, “I know people who took someone else, and they got As relatively easily.”

Olivia Alexander, a sophomore animation major, was going through family issues when she hit a difficult time in her academic career. She said her anxiety and depression worsened.

She reached out to the counseling and psychology service office (CAPS) and the student success center at Edinboro to try to help with her time management skills and depression.

“I started eating and drinking more to help my mental state,” she said. “I also started doing things like listening to music to help me stay focused.”

She had to retake two courses to bring her GPA back up.

“I wish I wouldn’t have let my fears get the better of me. Instead of panicking and doing nothing, I should have tried to fix my problems.”

Hunsinger said: “I don’t think I see it as much as some of my colleagues – but [students] selecting the wrong major [is a large issue]. So you have to have interest, aptitude and dedication — you need to want to do it and it needs to be something you’re interested in and good at in order to perform well.”

Senior computer animation major, Nick Gehlmann, was a computer science major his freshman year. He said his major pitfall that year were his programming classes, in addition to a math class.

Instead of reaching out to various resources on campus, Gehlmann switched his major.

“The art classes came more naturally to me than programming did, so my grades began to improve.”

After his freshman year, he made sure he went to class, got enough sleep and didn’t leave large projects until the night before they were due. He didn’t retake any of the classes from his first year.

“I just kept moving and didn’t look back.”

He said as a freshman that he didn’t fully understand the absence policies.

“I would sometimes sleep through classes and miss what was taught that day. Make sure the major you’re in is what you’ll be glad doing day in and day out, not just in college, but normal life. The monotony of programming killed my enthusiasm for it.”

“It’s the students who are invested, who come in, who ask questions, who respond to our outreach, meet with us, sit down with us and go over using a planner and different types of study skills — those are the students who are improving and doing better,” said Hunsinger.

He continued: “It’s the students who avoid our outreach, avoid our phone calls, avoid our emails, avoid our text messages, complain about things that they have to do or don’t do them because they feel like it’s too much or a burden on them to do these extra tasks, those are the students who we see getting suspended.”

Minus grades and the effect of an “F”

Last academic year, Edinboro changed its grading scale to include minus grades. While many professors formerly gave As for percentages of 90-100, now, according to the standard grading system in the university undergraduate catalog, an “A” grade counts for percentages 93-100, while the “A-” is 90-92 percent.

For example, if a student is taking 15 credits per semester, and one semester they receive four As and one F, their GPA would be 3.2. Assuming they received As in the rest of their classes at 15 credits each semester, for seven semesters, their final GPA would be 3.9.

If a student instead received four A- grades and one F, their semester GPA would be 2.94. If they received five A- grades each semester for seven semesters, one’s final GPA would only be 3.58.

Finally, if a student receives three As, one B and one F their first semester, they will have a semester GPA of 3.0. If they continue for seven semesters at 15 credits per semester, receiving four As and one B, they will receive a final GPA of 3.7. 

Dakota Palmer is the news editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at

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