This week, we will talk about midterms. Midterms are exams that happen about the middle of the semester. Not every class has a midterm exam, but for those who do, they are definitely on your students’ minds. Midterms can provoke anxiety in students because this is the first time they are experiencing college midterm exams, and things that are new can feel scary. Your Deacs may also be worrying about their actual midterm grades themselves. Here are a few things for families to know regarding midterms.
It is not unusual to see midterm grades that are lower than what a student was used to in high school. If this is the case with your student, do not panic. Sometimes first-year students study for tests the same way they did in high school, or expected to deliver the same kind of answers on tests – for example, students may be memorizing facts, but in college a professor wants them to understand and apply concepts to show their mastery of the material. You can see from this graphic (click on it to enlarge) that there are various levels of thinking. The level students were expected to perform at in high school is lower than where they will need to perform in college.
You may want to ask your student some rhetorical questions – not for them to answer in that moment, but for them to reflect on in their own time (so they find their own solutions):
How/when/where are you studying? Could there be another time/place that might be more conducive to studying?
Did you seek out your professor during their office hours whenever there was something that you did not fully understand?
What kinds of tutoring options are available? (Hint: there is free tutoring from CLASS (the Center for Learning, Access, and Student Success; formerly Learning Assistance Center), the Bio Center, Chemistry Center, Computer Science Center, the Math and Stats Center, and the Writing Center).
Were you approaching your midterms having had a good night’s sleep?
How are you planning your time for homework, studying, etc.? Could there be a better way to keep track of your work and allow you the time you need to prep for exams?
College is harder than high school, and many students have a hard time realizing that changes need to be made in their study habits. As parents/family members, remember to be supportive of your student. Remember that the thirty second Frantic Phone Call is when your child feels the most overwhelmed. There is still plenty of time to improve. Your student should use the first few months of school to discover what it takes to succeed. There is also Academic Coaching within the CLASS; read more here.
With support from home and Wake Forest’s many resources, your student will learn what works best for them.
And a preview of coming attractions: next week, we’ll talk about Grade Expectations, which will provide advice on how to think about your student’s grades in a realistic and supportive way.
— by Betsy Chapman, Ph.D. (’92, MA ’94)
To contact the Office of Family Engagement, please visit our contact page.
If Your Student Has a Problem
One of the best ways parents/families can help their students is to let them handle their business as independently as possible. Use the Stop, Drop, and Roll method when your student contacts you with a problem, a decision to make, etc.