I Failed My First College Class, and It Taught Me a Huge Lesson

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I’ve always been the “brainy” girl. I was in the “talented and gifted” program in my elementary school and then took all the upper-level classes when I was in high school. My family’s refrigerator was always plastered with my A+ papers and academic awards. Perfection was my normal. So if someone would’ve told me back then that I would fail one of my college classes, I would’ve laughed in their face. But I did, and it ended up being one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life.

I don’t have many regrets in life, but when it comes to academics, I do wish I would’ve made more mistakes. The failures I’ve had have taught me way more than any successes have.

I knew weeks before that I would probably fail the class. It wasn’t that I didn’t understand the material, but there was just no way I was going to be able to complete the work for the class. Aside from being in this class, I was taking the hardest course in my curriculum, interning nearly 45 minutes away from my school, tutoring on campus, and participating in way too many extra curricular activities. I felt obligated to do certain things, to have certain positions, and to always go the extra mile. (Eventually learning to say no more often saved my sanity.)

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To make matters worse, I wasn’t prioritizing myself. Most of my meals consisted of vending machine snacks and fast food, if I even got the chance to eat. I was so tired that I could fall asleep doing practically anything. With poor physical health came poor mental health, which made it extremely hard for me to stay motivated throughout the semester. Pulling those back-to-back all nighters seemed like they were getting me ahead at the time, but in actuality, I was just causing more problems for myself.

I also realized that one of my biggest flaws is my “I’ll figure it out myself” mindset. This is the biggest reason why I failed that course. My professor had reached out to me after the fact, because she was confused on why I had never spoken to her when I started to get behind. The truth was that this was, incredibly, the first time in my 16 years of schooling that I had gotten behind in a class. I had no idea how to react, so I completely shut down.

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While weighing my options, I never once thought about going to my professor for help. A part of that came from my pride, but also from the fact that I never had to ask for help growing up. If I struggled with something, I would become fixated on it and even go as far as to spend hours working until I completely understood it. I thought this made me a better student, but it really caused me more stress and created bad habits. If I had only been honest with my professor and myself, I would’ve been able to work something out. Unfortunately, I chose to continue to struggle.

I don’t have many regrets in life, but when it comes to academics, I do wish I would’ve made more mistakes. The failures I’ve had have taught me way more than any successes have. Yes, failing that class absolutely sucked, but it didn’t erase the past three years of my life. One setback will not ruin all of your hard work. I was still able to have an amazing internship in the Summer and many other opportunities since then. What it did was force me to reevaluate myself not only as a student, but as a person, and realize that nobody is perfect. I just wish I would have realized that sooner.

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