Posted on: July 27, 2015 Posted by: Nicole Harding Comments: 0

So you have an unwanted mark on your transcript. Maybe there were circumstances outside of your control, or maybe you were a little young and put a little more effort into your social engagements than your studies.


Whatever the reason, you now wish you could somehow wave a magic wand that could fix everything. Unfortunately this magic wand doesn’t exist, but with some research and a measure of effort it may be possible to get rid of a bad mark (or at least not have it count against your overall average). Follow these steps to get rid of a bad mark that is affecting your life.

1. Make it as though it never happened.

Some colleges may allow your mark to be taken off of from your transcript. This would typically be considered in extreme cases such as an illness or injury, or a death in the family. You mark might show as incomplete while not having an effect on the student’s average.

2. Are you sure you want to do it?

Many colleges allow students to drop a course within a certain timeframe and not have it affect their average. This is usually within the first couple weeks of class, but as with anything, these dates vary school by school. Not only will this not affect your overall grade; when a course is dropped within the allowable time, the course will not appear on the transcript at all.

Some colleges will even have a secondary drop period. This a set timeframe after the no penalty drop period where a student can drop a course and receive an incomplete on their transcript. However, once this threshold is crossed, the methods for clearing your bad marks need to become more creative. So keep on reading!

3. The exception to the rule.

Depending on the specific circumstances, a school may allow a student to have a mark excluded from the calculation of their average, even though it remains on the transcript. While this does not technically get rid of a bad mark, it may be the deciding factor in getting on the Dean’s list, or graduating with honours, or maintaining a scholarship. It is worth looking into at the very least. Contact someone in the administration at your school to see if this might be an option for you.

4. Go where nobody knows your name.

If the policies of a school do not allow one to get rid of a bad mark, then another consideration might be to switch schools and start over as a freshman. This will involve starting from square one and applying to the school based on high school transcripts. None of the accumulated credits from the current school would be usable as transfer credits. While it may not be an option for upperclassmen, some who have only completed one or two semesters may see the use of this route. If you had a rough start, it is not impossible to start over.

5. Declare a mulligan.

Some colleges may allow a redo. The student has to take the entire course again, then if they achieve a better mark the second time through, the school will replace the old grade with the new one. This is when you really have to evaluate how strongly you want to get rid of a bad mark because it could mean graduating later than the rest of your class or attending the summer semester to make up the time. The benefit is that you will already have done the class once. How hard could it be to knock your previous grade out of the park?

6. Perks of maturing.

Others have found that letting their credits expire allows them to apply afresh as an adult/mature student since some colleges no longer recognize marks or credits after a certain period of time. This may be handy for someone who, for one reason or another, found it necessary to leave school partway through their program. A few years later they could find themselves wanting to return to school, but they are unsure as to how their previous marks will affect their entrance application.

It is important to remember that every case can be different and every school has their own set of policies. The specific steps necessary to get rid of a bad mark can vary greatly between schools.

Talk to an academic advisor about your specific situation and find out what options might be available for your circumstances. If they are unable to advise you on how to get rid of a bad mark, you may need to speak with the academic dean. The dean should be well versed in your school’s specific policies, as well as the procedures that are necessary to get rid of a bad mark.

7. Prevention is the best cure.

The best way to get rid of a bad mark is to avoid receiving a bad mark in the first place. Before heading off to a school of choice, students would be wise to do a little research; interview with current students, instructors, or past alumni. Find out how much effort is recommended to maintain the GPA desired. Almost any post-secondary education will require a greater effort than was necessary during High School to maintain the same grade.

Also, be sure to explore your own strengths and weaknesses or likes and dislikes. There are personality tests and aptitude tests that can help a student explore what course of study would be most enjoyable to them and help create a good fit for the career that would be most satisfying in the long run. This will help to avoid getting partway into a course of study before realizing that this just isn’t your cup of tea. If you are unable to locate these tests ask a guidance counsellor, teacher, mentor, or even (perish the thought) a parent.

Follow these steps and you should be able to get rid of a bad mark, or at least help minimize the effect that it has on your life. You don’t want a bad mark hanging over your transcript forever. Especially if you are trying to get into a new school, or require the grades in order to get a new job. Do not despair! You might just find that bad mark won’t stick around with you forever.

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