Looking for ideas on how to break the bad news to your parents that your grades this semester are less than stellar? If sitting them down and simply saying “Mom and Dad, I got a bad grade in college” seems a bit too, shall we say, pedestrian, then here are some ways you can break the ‘rents hearts, one F at a time.
3 ways to handle the bad news
There are a couple ways to go when you’ve bombed a test or assignment. Jen Thames blogged for collegenews.com “You’ve Made Your Bed: Breaking Bad Grades to Parents” on December 5, 2011, with her three suggestions:
1. Lie—Yup, if you’ve got the brass ones to pull this off, go for it! Simply look dear ol’ mom and dad in the eye and say, “My roommate is great. My grades are great. The dining hall is terrifying.” One out of three will be true, and even if you aren’t failing math you will know those are still pretty bad odds.
2. Fudge—Otherwise known as skirting the truth (this one’s for the English majors, feel free to drop some serious adjectives here to distract Mom and Dad). Tell them that your professor is bad about giving back grades, or that you still have some work to turn in or simply that you don’t know what your grade is. They won’t fall for this one for long, but it might buy you enough time for one last blow out with your friends before your parents put down the hammer.
3. Come clean—No you don’t want to say, “Mom and Dad, I got a bad grade in college,” but telling the truth could be oddly liberating. And let’s face it—they are going to find out eventually. This one is especially recommended for philosophy majors who can somehow spin this into some metaphysical argument that will confuse them.
If you decide that honesty is the best policy, Thames offers a final tip: “The power of the truth is all in the approach. Ask forgiveness and then enlist their help. Most importantly ask your parents for tips about how they made it through hard classes in college. Parents are usually full of suggestions and strategies.”
How to move past a bad grade in college
Once you (and your parents hopefully) have moved on from the shock and awe of your bad grade in college, what can you do to ensure you never have to remember how to break bad news to your parents again? “3 Tips to Overcome a Bad Grade in College” by Laura McMullen posted January 27, 2012, for U.S. News & World Report offers some advice.
First get some perspective. College is harder than high school, and you may need to make some adjustments and work a bit harder. Also you probably need to sit down and talk with your professor. Understanding how your work didn’t cut it is the best way to keeping that bad grade from happening again. Sure it won’t be fun, and in fact it may be downright uncomfortable, but that is your bad grade, and now you have to own it.
You failed a class
But what if your bad grade in college goes beyond one F on a paper? What if it has gone nuclear and you’ve bombed an entire CLASS? When you start to sense things going south for you that is probably the time to lay some groundwork with mom and dad. Something along the line of, “Man, Mom and Dad, advanced basket weaving is really kicking my butt this semester. I sure do hope you won’t be disappointed in me if my baskets are lumpy.”
Callie Dolohanty added some tips in her May 27, 2011, post “How to Break the Bad Grade News to Your Parents” for theblacksheeponline.com. She recommends, “The cardinal rule of breaking this kind of news to the rents is to think on your feet and constantly remain a victim. Remind them of how much you love them, how disappointed you are in yourself, and express a healthy amount of self-loathing.”
Also tears are never a bad idea, and feel free to try the “but I’m already torturing myself, so there’s no need to lay on any additional punishment” route. If that one works for you, you probably don’t need college because you’re already a skilled con artist.
Good luck—you’re going to need it.
No one wants to fail a test or a course, but it happens. So how did you handle telling the bad news to your parents? Let us know in the comments.