Friday December 16, 2016

The Pressure to Succeed...and then Not Succeeding

Not a lot of people like talking about their grades, but SURPRISE, grades and your academic record do kind of have a lot of importance in college. 

A part of higher education is the difficulty that comes along with taking upper-level classes and adjusting to completely new learning material. We all know this, but what I think we don't talk about enough is how to cope with ourselves mentally when things don't go as planned in one of your classes. 

Here I am at the end of the semester, looking at my grades (one of the most nerve-wracking and terrifying things to do) and logging on to Isidore. 

We all know how anxious we can get when we want to see our final grades back, waiting for hours, not getting sleep, trying to calculate every possibility imaginable and trying to mentally prepare for what we could see. 

I get to my Organic Chemistry grade, and it hits me like a ton of bricks. Not actually terrible, but in my eyes, it's terrible, and suddenly I feel nauseous. My friends and I can at least relate to that moment you see your overall percentage and either want to vomit or throw a party. 

Yeah well, there was no partying in VWK Section C that evening, and I didn't know what to do with myself. I was disappointed because there's always that feeling of "You know you can do better." But for some reason, that may not always work.

One of the reasons I think I can be a little harder on myself is because I'm a first-generation college student (and high school graduate) that is used to doing better. There has always been that extra pressure to work harder, be smarter, and most of all "do not mess up." Everyone makes mistakes, but something that I can attest to as a first-generation student is that every big mistake like this feels like a big slap in the face to my parents who work hard to keep me at UD and who also expect a lot from me. I have always made them proud and myself proud in everything that I do, and grades usually take on that extra weight of being even more important to us. 

There are many pressures that can come with just being in the college academic setting in general, end even more so within the rigorous curriculum that The University of Dayton provides. It's great that we are pushed to our full potential and to move out of our comfort zone, but sometimes it could be overwhelming if you're not preparing or studying properly. It happens, and it's actually not the end of the world believe it or not. 

Despite me always being hard on myself, my mom was always the individual to remind me that I am more than my grades, and she is right. I know we've all heard that before, but think about what that really means. It means that my worth is not determined ultimately by the letter that's on my transcript, at this point, it is about how I come back from this setback, get back on track, and put in the effort to improve in the future. 

I know, I know, hearing the phrase "grades don't matter" or anything of the sort in college is sometimes sickening and hard to believe. but, the best way to put it is that they do but they don't at the same time. Think about how much character you show by taking the time to retake a class, relearn material, and do even better on exams and the entire class the next time you take. That's what I plan to do, work even harder than I did last time to not only prove to myself that I can do it, but to future employers/grad schools that I truly am not determined by my letter grade. 

That's what I think college is about, and I want others to realize this too. Not everything goes perfectly all the time, and if anything I grateful for a humbling experience to be able to grow and learn from my setbacks, and I wish others would own that more and be strong in their actions. What I'm learning from this is that sometimes we need times like this in your college experience, because, in the real world, things don't get any easier!

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