DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a good student who studies hard and works to get good grades. I have recently been going through a lot in my personal life. It is affecting how much time and effort I put into my work. I failed an exam last week; it was the first exam I have ever failed, and I’m not sure if I should tell my parents. Part of me wants to keep it a secret because I know how disappointed they would be, but another part is telling me I should be honest with my parents. What do you think I should do? -- Worried Student, Philadelphia
DEAR WORRIED STUDENT: Keeping secrets is generally not a good idea, especially from your parents. It is their job to support you as you navigate your life and your academic journey. Clueing them in on your difficulties now may turn out to be a big help. They may be able to see ways in which you can rebalance your schedule -- or even just serve as a shoulder to cry on.
Additionally, you should speak to your teacher to find out what makeup work you can do. Ask if you can retake the exam. Sometimes this is possible. You must also evaluate your personal life to see what needs attention and what requires change. There should be a mental health counselor at school who can help you work through your difficulties and determine the best next steps.