How to beg for your grade and not alienate your professor

True stories about how your peers passed when they shouldn't have

Jordan Zy

You've taken a wrong turn and you're going to fail your class. It is time to face the music—you need to talk to your professor about your grade. How did you get this far behind? I don't know, I'm just a Clocktower reporter. But I've had my own experiences with begging a professor for a grade, and I can give you some advice on what will work and what won't work.

The worst thing you can do is avoid the problem.

I know I used to skip class to avoid awkward confrontation with my professors. Skipping class, living in denial and not checking your grade has never helped. Ignoring your grades may save you from stressing out for now, but it could get worse if you wait to fix your problems. Honestly, the more you skip, the more you'll want to skip, and your grade goes in the toilet when you miss more than four class periods.

The best thing you can do is save face with your professor.

Go in and talk to them, let them help you help yourself. I know it’s not easy, I personally hate asking for help or pointing out my failures. But once you gather some courage, it is well worth it to proactively help yourself by talking to your professors. Biology professor Dr. Corraine McNeill says, "If a student is doing poorly and they need to pull their grade up, proactively speaking, they shouldn't wait. I tell my students to come talk to me throughout the semester. I will sit down with you talk as long as you need. I just want my students to know that I care about them and their success. Coming as an international student, I know what it means to struggle in college. So I don't want to take my students’ grades for granted." 

Professors at Union want you to succeed. If you have shown interest in the class and kept up with your homework, that goes a long way. But when you mess that up (guilty), showing that you have initiative to ask for a way to make up the work is the next best option.

If you need to beg for your grade, don't feel too bad. You're not alone, many students have a story about how they had to humble themselves and get help from a professor. Senior English education major Slade Lane once offered a professor ice cream if he could retake a test, unfortunately for him, "Bribery did not work." But what does work is being sincere and taking ownership of your actions. "Take responsibility for your actions first, and you've taken care of half the problem already," says Human Development Chair Denise White. "Don't give excuses, take responsibility for your mistake and ask for a plan you believe will help you finish strong."

Honesty really is the best policy.

Honesty worked for all the success stories I've heard. While asking to remain nameless, my sources had some luck with asking for a hope of a passing grade. A business major admitted to his professor of an online course that he was working a lot and lost track of his homework. "I told her I was willing to put in the time to make up or redo any work to go from a C to an A. With my track record until then she was willing to hear my case."

A theology major told me a story about a time he knew he needed a 76% to pass the final of a major class, without which he would not be able to visit Jerusalem that summer. He emailed his professor, and, even though he sounded "pitiful," passed the class.

So talk to your professors and just be honest, you messed up. Your made-up excuses are transparent and unimpressive. Show them you take pride and initiative in your own work, because it is never too late to start. And in the end, honesty is not only the best policy, it is also the most efficient way to get what you need to survive the rest of this school year. So take initiative and save your GPAs. Finish strong Union!

Jordan is a senior studying psychology.