December 18, 2017
Congratulations to all of our WMU students who graduated Saturday...and to YOU, parents, guardians, family members and mentors for supporting your student through the college years! We are so very proud of their accomplishments and look forward to their future successes.
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Even "seasoned" college students occasionally have a challenging semester and for those of us with students struggling academically, it can be helpful to think about effective ways to approach the situation. So you may find this "repeat" message helpful.
Tomorrow late afternoon or evening, students will be able to access fall semester grades through their GoWMU accounts. If you have proxy access to grades, you also will be able to view your student's academic progress.
Students will be notified through their WMU email if their academic standing changes to probation, extended probation, final probation or dismissal. The email will explain what the standing means and what impact it has on future registration. If the student has been academically dismissed, a hard copy letter will also be mailed to the permanent/home address.
Most students are quite confident as they log in to view their final grades. They stayed on track, consistently attended class and kept up with coursework. Unfortunately some students lose their academic focus somewhere along the way and seeing final grades is a cold splash of reality. Facing the results of a less than positive semester can cause regrets, self-doubt and discouragement.
We hope to celebrate our student's success and offer well-deserved praise when grades are posted...but that is not always the case. Despite your disappointment, this can be an opportunity to forge a strong bond between the two of you; recognizing your student as an adult who takes full responsibility for the choices made during the semester and creates a solid plan for moving forward.
Here are some thoughts to consider:
1. Before you discuss the semester with your student, take a deep breath and try to calm your emotions. Your conversation will be more fruitful if you can approach it with thoughtfulness and purpose.
2. Your student likely feels worse than you do. It's hard to deal with the consequences of poor academic performance and there is also the added stress of having disappointed you. These are powerful feelings and even more challenging than the sense of personal failure from a bombed out semester.
3. If you approach the situation as a tough but valuable learning experience, your student may become stronger, both academically and personally. We learn much from our failures and even more from having the chance to rise above them. Everyone occasionally needs a "do over" and this may be your opportunity to encourage that option.
4. Talk about what went wrong during the semester (preferably with a calm approach). Too much socializing? Attend class regularly? Need help with study skills? Did other issues overshadow the focus on academics? A conversation from the heart can be most helpful at this point - especially if you can find ways to approach your student as a young adult taking responsibility for personal actions - and not as your child who may have let you down.
5. Talk about next semester and next steps. This may be a fresh start; an opportunity to begin again with a stronger sense of purpose and direction. Encourage taking advantage of campus resources that will be beneficial in improving academic performance. Ask how you can help prepare for the return to college. What does your student need from you and also need from us?
6. And please tell 'em how much you love 'em! Your love doesn't go away because of a bad semester. Your trust and support are essential in moving towards positive change.
Wishing you and yours a restful break and a wonderful holiday season.
Director, Family Engagement
Western Michigan University will be closed for the holiday recess from Friday, Dec. 22 through January 1, 2018. The Family Engagement office will be closed beginning this Wednesday, reopening on January 2, 2018.