02/17/2012 10:55 am ET | Updated Apr 18, 2012

Begging for Better Grades? There's a Better Way

Right around now, many seniors will be getting their grades from the last marking period and realize the time they spent at the Harry Potter film festival and a hint of Thanksgiving senioritis have taken their toll:

"A B+ in Physics?

"A C in Business Law?"

"A WHAT in English?"

Welcome to grade groveling season, the time of year when parents across America look at their senior's laundry and say "What are these stains on the knees of these pants, and how did they get there?"

From buttering-up to begging, from outrage to despair, seniors will spend the next couple of weeks planning, scheming, and hoping that they can squeeze just one little grade bump from three or four teachers, largely because they are certain colleges will take one look at these grades and say "Yeah, well, no."

As a school counselor, I suppose this is where I'm supposed to offer words of solace and encouragement, and outline some approaches towards importunacy that will succeed. OK, here goes:

Good luck with that.

I know you feel badly, much like the point guard who sinks the winning shot after the buzzer sounds, or the junior who finally understands the writing prompt on the ACT on their drive home from the test center. This isn't easy to live with, and you were so close, but it just didn't happen.

"But sensei," says you, "college is on the line, and I can fix this, because time hasn't run out. I'm still in high school, and I still have the same teacher."

True enough, young grasshopper -- but look at the calendar, and see who's behind. It's the next marking period, not the last marking period. On the time-space continuum, the jig is up -- and if you don't understand that, maybe you really did deserve that low Physics grade. Just sayin'.

If that's not enough to get your head out of the rear-view mirror, remember that a small bump in one class grade for a senior -- say, from a B- to a B+ -- raises your GPA by about .008. Combine that with the advice a college rep gave me -- "one grade alone will never sink a student" -- and I'd say it's time to leave your teachers in peace...

... which leads to my last point. Unlike the birthday socks from Aunt Midge, grades aren't gifts given by someone else -- they are earned by you. If you have reason to believe your grade was calculated incorrectly, follow the grade appeal process outlined in your school handbook.

At the same time, I'm guessing this process has nothing to do with baking cookies for your teacher, following them to the parking lot at the end of the day, or having your parents "accidentally" bump into them at the grocery store -- and it really doesn't involve saying "but a grade this low will keep me out of college."

From what I know, that's not true, and even if it is, the person who gave you this "gift" of a grade isn't looking at you from the teacher's desk third period.

They're looking at you in the bathroom mirror every morning.

Believe me when I tell you, I'm feelin' it for ya, but it's time to pull up those socks Aunt Midge bought you and move on...

...because one low grade last marking period may not keep you from being admitted, but a couple of low grades this time around can put you on the fast track to admissions offer take-back.

There's nothing you can do if you fell behind, so now it's time to spring ahead.