Dealing with Anxiety about Grades in Your Freshmen Year

The anxiety college students face regarding grades in their Freshmen year stems invariably from a lack of orientation to understanding the new standard of academic requirements expected of them as students in college.

In making the transition from high school to college, freshmen students must quickly learn that in terms of studying, doing papers and projects, and invariably taking exams, a higher standard of performance is established in college as measures of academic achievement.

What might have been “A” work in high school is considered “C” or less work in college equivalence. What a blow for the freshmen student who realizes their high school preparation for college is not “up to par” with such standards.

The experience of first receiving an “F” or even “D” grade for an exam or paper is truly a low point experience for the college student. For some students the experience is so traumatic, they develop a dangerous “shell-shock” anxiety in facing any or all future exams and/or paper assignments in college.

This “fear of failure” mentality takes over the student, distracting them from correcting their failings as a necessary step in the developmental learning process.

In order for a student to grow from their failures, they must muster the necessary determination and energy to change their course of action to a more productive one in a relatively short period of time.

The most fundamental lesson a student must learn in their freshmen year is that they must take responsibility for meeting the standards established by the college for academic achievements.

grade anxiety

How can students re-direct the anxiety they feel about grades in their freshmen year into productive change for their college years?

Students should welcome the anxiety they feel as a challenge or opportunity for them to identify their problem areas in need of improvement. In making the transition from high school to college, freshmen students must adjust to changes in certain critical areas of their orientation to study:

1. Time management

Colleges operate on an abbreviated time-frame from high school. Class work spread over a year in high school is incorporated into a semester in college which follows the two-semester system. Hence students must learn to budget their time for studying and preparation within this shorter period.

2. Goal Setting

Students are expected to pick an area of concentration or a major in their studies. Often their course selections are predicated on this choice of major.

Choosing a major presumes a student possesses the ability to maneuver the decision-making process. But often freshmen students have not developed this ability from high schools which tend “to spoon-feed” students.

Freshmen students should be encouraged to seek the help of counselors and/or advisers in making a choice of major.

3. Study Skills

College professors expect different skill levels and orientation for studying from their students. These skills include efficiency in Note-taking skills for lectures and textbook reading, proficiency in using Academic research sources for writing papers and reports, and organization for Revision of notes and papers for final exams.

Skill levels and orientation also varies from one subject to another. Studying for a literature course differs markedly from studying a Science course.

Final Word

Fortunately, colleges recognize increasingly the need for providing help and orientation in the above areas through required Freshmen Orientation Seminar classes, which are taken in the first semester by their newly admitted students.

Reports from students and professors, indicate that these courses have greatly helped students with acquiring the proper skills needed for handling the anxiety all freshmen experience in facing grades during their freshmen year.

The successful student learns to re-direct this anxiety into positive changes for their college years.