How to Break the Bad Grade News to Your Parents
- Article by Callie Dolohanty
- May 27, 2011
So your last semester didn’t go quite as well as you planned. The only thing you’re sweating more than your plummeting GPA is how you are going to tell your parents about it. Regardless of whether mom and dad are bankrolling your college years, they might actually be just generally interested in your academic performance. So when the report card surfaces, its time to do some of that critical thinking that you were lacking on your final exams and figure out a plan of deflection.
Before dropping the news that you’ve failed a course this semester, begin to drop hints about how difficult the class was, how poorly your friends have done past semesters, and most importantly, how little it really affects your graduation plan. Whatever you do don’t mention the words probation, failure, or the phrase "5th year senior." All of the aforementioned words scream of extended financial and emotional commitment, and once your mother’s nest was emptied the last thing she wants to hear is the possibility of you crashing back in.
Your opening line needs to be carefully worded. It should go a little something like, “Hey mom and dad, you know that one class that was so hard last semester? Well I actually didn’t do quite as well as I hoped.” Cue mother’s disappointed look and father’s angry gaze. This is when you need to physically distance yourself for safety reasons. Just take a few steps back as your parents interrupt each other trying to interrogate you about your grades. The only way to defuse this situation is with some quick thinking and some serious bullshitting. Start talking about what an awful professor you had, how you were under the impression there would be a curve, and how your TA was some foreigner who you struggled to communicate with despite several attempts. Really just throw out anything that doesn't blame someone besides yourself, because God knows you can’t be held responsible for your awful academic performance.
When the fireworks start to soar and your parents threaten to cut you off, burst into tears. Mommy can’t help but pity her poor baby. She has no idea that her baby was drinking and doing drugs all semester, going out in a Charlie Sheen type of downward spiral, and if you play your cards right, she’ll never know. When she asks about how you spent your time, mumble something about possibly having a learning disorder or depression. Who knows, you could actually have one, although it’s probably just a result of all the fun you’ve had this semester. She’ll be so concerned with your mental health she’ll totally forget what a fuck up you’ve been this year. Just don’t stick around long enough to be sitting in regular appointments with a shrink.
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. You shouldn’t be punished because you’re already torturing yourself: that kind of mentality is vital to staying in the family will. And since you are most likely going on double secret probation, Animal House style, you’ll be needing some family love when you fail out. But until then, maybe try to mix in a little studying with your partying lifestyle. Hell, who am I kidding, we don’t go to school to learn. Party on.