What Are Midterm Grades? A Parent’s Guide - The University of Tulsa

What Are Midterm Grades? A Parent’s Guide

TU Parents and Guardians 

In my 15-year career as a professor and now as TU’s Executive Director of Student Success, I am often asked how parents can help their students succeed in college. The truth for all of us who are in a student’s support network is that only the student can be in the driver’s seat of their educational experience. We all want students to be successful, we have resources to help students succeed, but it is the student’s responsibility to use their resources and engage in their learning experience. 

A relative recently asked how she could support her daughter “Stacy” in her success at college. Stacy’s mother expressed concern when her daughter said her grades were “fine.” I asked Stacy’s mom if her daughter received midterm grades and she asked how to begin talking to her student about her grades in a way that would move the student forward. 

This semester, students in undergraduate courses can check their midterm grades in Self-Service 

What are midterm grades? 

A midterm grade in a course is a snapshot indicating how a student is performing academically in the courseMidterm grades are not indicative of a student’s final grade. A midterm grade is not part of a permanent record, but a student should use their midterm grade as important and helpful feedback.  When I was a professor, I often cautioned students from getting overconfident, because in some courses, a substantial portion of their grade was determined by the final exam or project.  

What kind of feedback do midterm grades provide? 

  • D, F, Unsatisfactory – This is a red flag. A student should use University resources and focus on building habits that lead to success. 
  • C – This grade could be a yellow flag, and I would encourage the student to closely monitor their grades. They should use TU’s resources and focus on building habits that lead to success.
  • A, B, Satisfactory – This could be a green flag for now. Kudos on their progress at this snapshot. A student should use University resources and continue to build habits that lead to success 

If your student is a first-year student, it can be surprising to see a marked difference from their high school GPA. First-year students are often shocked that their grades are much lower than they were previously. This is an important opportunity for your student to begin using resources.  

If your student has been adversely affected by the unique circumstances of COVID-19, there are resources at The University of Tulsa to assist your student. 

How can I talk to my student about their midterm grades? 

Midterm is a great time to have a conversation with your student. Before asking your students about their grades, consider asking 

  • What have you learned about yourself as a learner?  
  • What strategies and habits are working for you? What are your areas of growth? What habits do you need to learn to reach your goalsWhat obstacles are getting in your way?   
  • We all get in our own way sometimes. (Vulnerability – Share some of the ways that you get in your own way. For example, I am a perfectionist. I often procrastinate if I feel like I cannot do it perfectly). In what ways are you getting in your own way? 
  • What University resources have you utilized this semester? 
  • Are you attending and actively participating in class? 

How can I see my student’s midterm grades? 

Students grades are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). We encourage students to talk with their parents about their grades and their academic progress. To learn more about FERPA, watch this video  

What resources are there to support my student? 

There are caring faculty and staff eager to support your student. A student must take ownership and ask for assistance. 

Each of these relationships is bi-directional; students must be active participants in the process, communicate their questions and needs clearly, and take ownership in their experience at The University of Tulsa. 

Read the Student Guide to Midterms here and view other resources here. 

Cheering your students on,  

Dr. Mandy Moore