Academic success at Gustavus is often foremost in the minds of both students and their parents. Below is some information to help you have a conversation with your student about grades.

Class year and grades

Student often experience a great deal of stress related to their academic work and grades. Each class year can bring different challenges and students may need to adjust their study habits and develop new skills to be successful.

  1. First-year students often find the adjustment to college level work overwhelming. Many students come to Gustavus with strong academic backgrounds and do not understand the skills needed for academic work. The social environment, aneed to connect, and make new friends often becomes a priority. This can lead to students leaving assingments until the last minute or not working daily to keep up with the academic workload. First semester mid-term grades are often the catalyst for improving academic study habits.
  2. Sophomore year students typically declare a major and select an advisor. Students are fullfilling general requirements for graduation and interest (or lack of interest) in courses may play a large role in the grade received. If students have already declared a major, they may experience an intensity of work load and higher expectations of faculty members.
  3. Junior year students experience a higher degree of academic challenge within their major. The workload demands increase as students move to upper level courses (ie: amount of reading, length and number of written assignments, labratory time, group projects, presentations). Junior students also become involved on campus in a variety of leadership roles and the balance with academics is challenging.
  4. Senior year students are often studying for graduate school entrance exams and working to get their applications, resumes and interviewing skills in order. This is time consuming and requires the time an additional class would take. Certain majors may also have a senior project or thesis to complete. Seniors struggle, just as in high school, with maintaining a level of motivation to finish strong academically. The warm Spring weather, although enjoyable, doesn't help.
Conversation starters with your student about academics and grades
  • Find out what your student thinks about their courses.
  • Ask them specific questions about what they are reading, researching or hearing about in a specific class.
  • Ask them to copy their syllabus for each course for you so you can ask specific questions.
  • Ask open-ended questions such as:
    • What are you enjoying about your classes this semester?
    • What is difficult about your schedule or courses?
  • Discuss how they are feeling about the workload and what strategies they are using to manage it.
  • Find out if your student is working on any group projects. How is that process going for them?
  • What are they learning from the things they are involved with outside of the classroom?
  • What programs have they attended (speakers, topical coversations) and what was the issue?

Before the semester

Before each semester begins have a conversation with your son or daughter regarding their academics goals for the semester. Talk specifically about what they hope to accomplish within each class. Grades should be discussed, but remind students that effort and what they are learning is very important.

Be honest with yourself and your student regarding your expectations for grades in college. Remember that Gustavus is a liberal arts college and hopes that students are gaining an well rounded education, not only from their academic endeavors, but their involvement on campus as well.

Mid-term grades

Mid-terms are a stressful time for students (mid-October and mid-March). Talk with them a few weeks before about how they are managing their time, what resources are available to help with studying (there are often study groups, tutors and the Writing Lab is available to assist with papers)

  • "I understand mid-terms are right around the corner - what work do you have due in each class"
  • "What kinds of tutoring or help is available for the class?"

Final grades

  • I understand that your grades should be posted on-line.
  • How do you feel about how you did this semester.
  • What classes went well? Why?
  • Were there some you didn't enjoy? Why?

It's important to create a relationship with your student where not only grades are discussed and shared, but about the how the semester went. If you established early that it is important for you to see the final grade, asking these questions help your child know that other things are important as well.

One of the most critical things you can do as a parent is teach your student how to handle pressure and stress. Brainstorm specific ideas for ways that your student can manage all of the academic work load that seems to come at the same time. Help them plan ahead for ways to handle disappointment of not doing as well as they expected and what they can do to improve.

Definitions of Grade related terms
  • Drop/Add
    A student may withdraw from (drop) a full-credit course during the first two weeks of Fall and Spring semesters and the first three days of January Term without having that course participation recorded on the transcript. For partial-credit courses in Fall and Spring semesters, only one week is allowed. Students may also add courses during this time if given permission by a faculty member.
  • GPA
    Students receive both a semster GPA and cumulative GPA for all of the courses they have completed at Gustavus.
  • Grade Number Value
    Letter Grade   Number Value
    A 4.0
    A- 3.66
    B+ 3.33
    B 3.0
    B- 2.66
    C+ 2.33
    C 2.0
    C- 1.66
    D+ 1.33
    D 1.0
    F 0

    Grades of "P" and grades for non-Gustavus courses are not calculated in the grade point average.

  • Grading System
    Coursework will be graded as follows: A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, F, I, and P. The grade P, defined as equal to C or better, may be given for January Term courses and Fine Arts performance courses, at the discretion of the instructor; Education Department clinical courses; Internships; and Physical Education activity courses.
  • Registrar
    The Office of the Registrar serves as the official organizer of all classes, class schedules, and class locations. In addition, all student records (i.e., grades, enrollment, and statistical data) are maintained by the Registrar.
  • Requirements for graduation
  • Withdraw Deadline
    A student may withdraw from (drop) a full credit course during the first two weeks of the Fall and Spring semesters and the first three days of January Term without having that course participation recorded on the transcript. For partial credit courses in Fall and Spring semesters, only one week is allowed. Course withdrawals after this time will be recorded on the student transcript as a "W". No withdrawal from a course is permitted after the tenth week of a full semester course, the fifth week of a half semester course, or the third week of a January Term course. Courses for which a student is registered after these times will receive final grades.