At this time of year, many of you are grading your first batch of midterms or course papers and will have the opportunity to catch the drowning well before they go down for the third time. Please send up a flare if a student on your class list didn't show up for an exam or when the troublesome grades appear, not just the F's and D's but also the C's from students you expected to do A work. You can use the midterm warning forms from any of the school offices, available through your departments, contact those offices yourself (see the Faculty Resource Guide by turning to the World Wide Web and typing in http://www.english.upenn.edu/~akelley/guide.html ), or drop me a line by email (akelley @english ) or by phone (573-3968).
The causes of academic trouble are legion, and the value of early intervention is often immeasurable. Students who have never learned to study may see an early failure as simply a fluke. "Well," they'll say, "my professor says we can drop the lowest exam, and I'll just ace the next one." Such resolutions seldom work unless guidance in studying is offered, and it is available. Students who have serious personal or family problems may be reluctant to ask for help, but an advisor who hears about the academic fallout from such difficulties can often provide referrals in such a way as to make them welcome.
In the past two years I have seen astonishing transformations of students who have gotten the help they need. I have also seen real misery emerge from trouble caught too late. If you have time, invite students who perform poorly to come to talk to you in your office. Often the caring professor is the best source of help. But a word to another official source of support is an important adjunct to your own offer of aid.
So, when you see trouble, do let us know.
Faculty Liaison to Student Services
Volume 43 Number 9
October 22, 1996
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