As a freshman, you get the crumbs of courses left behind by all the grades above you. I put together a perfect schedule in my mind. I felt so positive that I would get all of the courses I wanted.
That was not the case. This two-in-one class that I was crazy for was entirely full. Bummer. I needed to quickly sign up for two other courses. I thought why not? Let me get my math and science credits out of the way. I enrolled in Finite Probability and Rivers and Environment.
Spoiler alert: This story is not going to be about math.
I actually enjoy math, I’m good at it.
Rivers and Environment on the other hand is a completely different story. On the first day, I walk in and I am suddenly traumatized to see a room of over 200 people. In high school the biggest class size held approximately 23 students.
Anyways, I find my place near the front so I wouldn’t get distracted. I take out my computer, open a blank word document and wait. The professor comes in, quickly introducing himself. He points to the PowerPoint and says, “Let us begin.” For the rest of the class, all you heard was the professor talking. In the background, you heard a constant hum of students typing their lives away on their keyboards.
This is how the first week of classes went. I take my notes, I review and I think to myself: “College isn’t that hard.” Oh, how I was wrong. After the add/drop deadline passed, all of my classes began to pick up. I had to buckle down and just try to keep up.
As the weeks progressed, I fell behind in my Rivers class. I also didn’t put much importance to it at the time because attendance wasn’t mandatory. There were only four assignments in the whole semester. It seemed simple enough.
When our professor handed back the first assignment, I stared down at my paper and saw my grade: D. That’s what I received on an assignment I considered “simple.” I realized then that I needed to put more effort in this class, while maintaining my other four courses.
I did a bit better on the second one, but it was still nothing to toot my own horn about either. Finally, October rolls in and midterm season comes along with it. Studying endlessly for all of my classes, I made sure to study twice as hard for my Rivers and Environment midterm.
After a week and a half of studying for this midterm, the professor yelled out, “Begin.” Just like that, the only noise you hear is the students typing on the keyboards for the next hour.
I drew a blank. I thought I studied a sufficient amount of time for this exam, but the first question proved me wrong. He never gave out exams before, so I didn’t know the kind of questions he posed.
The professor wanted specifics. Don’t get me wrong, I knew about half of the content on that exam, but that wouldn’t make up for what I still lacked in knowledge. I guessed and hoped for the best.
When I got out of the room, I started counting down the days until I got my grade back. I tried to remain positive to myself—and to my parents, who weren’t so happy about how I felt the midterm went.
The following week trudged along at a snail’s pace. I preoccupied myself with my other classes and went to the gym to relieve stress.
The midterm constantly hovered in the back of my mind.
What did I get? How am I doing horribly in college already? It’s only the first semester. These questions and many more raced through my head until I sat in the lecture hall that Friday morning.
The professor uploaded our grades as we walked into the classroom. The whole class opened their computers, loging in to the website that held all of our grades. As I pulled up my screen, my heart dropped.
I got a 50 percent. I wanted to cry right there in the classroom. I began to freak out. How was I going to tell my mom that I’m officially failing a class? I just kept staring at the number. I thought about it for the rest of the day.
Weeks passed and I kept working hard, even though I already knew it was hopeless for my Rivers and Environment course.
With Thanksgiving break right around the corner, I got an email from the Academic Advising Center telling me that I need to come in to speak with them: “You are in jeopardy of failing a course.” That simple sentence brought back all the feelings of guilt and shame for not trying hard enough.
Fast forward a couple of days and I’m waiting in the lobby of the Academic Advising Center. One of the faculty called my name. I slowly rose and walked toward them. The embarrassment felt overwhelming, but I pushed it down so that no one else can notice.
The faculty member closed his office door and tried to make small talk while he and I both got situated. Once we get into the nitty-gritty of the meeting, I start to fidget with my fingers, which is something I do when I’m nervous.
He said, “You still have the option to drop the class. It’ll just show a withdrawal on your transcript. Or you can stay in that class, study extremely hard for the final and hope the you pass.”
Side note, I’m a tremendously indecisive person. Wo when he gave me this option I felt confused. What should I do? On one hand I could keep it and most likely bomb the final just like I did the midterm. On the other hand, I could drop it and then turn my attention to my other classes.
The answer was simple: “I’ll drop it.”
When I walked out of his office, I felt a weight off my shoulders. If I kept the Rivers and Environment course, I would have surely not only failed that course, but also brought down the grades for all my other classes. From that day forward, I put all of my efforts into my other four classes and passed them all.
I basically failed my Rivers and Environment course. At first it was difficult to come to terms with that, but now I know it’s normal. No student is perfect and most of us have to come to that reality.