As a senior, I obviously mastered all of my courses and perfectly balanced my social, love and academic lives. I had a Technology Analysis exam some time ago, so I started studying two weeks in advanced and I got to bed by 11 p.m. for a solid good night’s sleep. Well, that’s what I thought my life would look like. Instead, it’s 2 a.m., and I sat in my bed with red eyes reviewing material that couldn’t be more ingrained in my mind if I tried. I hit the point where I either knew it or I didn’t, and it’s time to call quits. After all, I’m a senior in college, so I knew how to take an exam by now.
Fast forward to my exam: I stared blankly at the questions in front of me wondering how I could have no idea about a single answer. I guessed. The online test gave almost immediate grade results. My grade result: F. So what happens next? I chose not to accept my grade. I couldn’t let this F define what my senior year would look like, so I took the following steps:
1. Emailed the professor
After finding out my grade, I knew I had to do something right away. Caught between frustration and confusion, I wasn’t positive what my first step should be, but I couldn’t spend any time waiting. I emailed my professor to take action. Even though I wanted to rant about how unfair and stupid the test was and how I deserved a higher grade, I decided that this approach would ultimately get me nowhere. I went with something a bit more eloquent–
Hi Professor Mayer,
After receiving my exam grade, I am not as happy with my grade as I had expected. I would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you tomorrow to go over some questions on the exam if possible. Let me know if there is a time that works for your schedule.
I feared if I expressed my concerns in an email, my professor could have easily shut me down before I even met with them to explain my dilemma in-person.
2. Actually Meeting with said professor
As the meeting approached, the intimidation kicked in. I didn’t want to scramble for words and say something that would result in my professor disliking me, so I prepared with one topic to talk about aside from my intention of meeting, but still relevant to the course. During my meeting, I sat down and explained my disappointment in my grade. I expressed how I didn’t understand the results because I reviewed the material, payed attention in class, participated and had done well on previous assignments. I ensured my professor I’d do anything to fix my grade. In my mind, these seemed like simple and obvious statements, and I could tell that my professor appreciated my interest and effort in the course because many students never go to office hours in the first place. But I made the time and was confident it would pay off.
We reviewed my exam question-by-question, and my nerves began to calm. Turns out my exam grade wouldn’t change, I remembered to stay positive because everything was completely fixable with time and a positive energy. Still, to go the extra mile and end the meeting on a good note, I brought out a video of the new Nike HyperAdapt sneakers as an example of one key concept of the course. As hoped, I impressed my professor. Sometimes the small things totally count.
3. Keep Trying
“Now is not the time to give up,” I told myself. Asking more questions in class and more late nights studying could help boost my grade. My grade wouldn’t magically change on its own. I needed to demonstrate my determination. I brought my grade up to a B+ in the class and, with my efforts, it continues to improve. Motivating yourself after getting knocked down so early on in your senior year can be tough to overcome, but it’s vital to keep trying. Failing isn’t abnormal; it’s actually quite common throughout college. Feeling better might take a whole day of cute animal videos to get back on your feet, but there’s always room for improvement, even in the final moments of your college career. Failure and disappointment are trials that don’t end with college. They visit periodically throughout your whole life. Take the time now to master the way you handle imperfection so you can continue to fit your failures into success.