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Bouncing back from a bad grade

 Written by    March 12, 2018

I’m like a lot of other OSU students: straight A’s in high school, top of the class, perfectionist, etc etc. So naturally, I got to college and told myself I wasn’t going to change that. I set the same painfully high standards for myself as I did for the last four years of education. I thought it would be just as simple in college as it was in high school. That’s what I was told, anyways; the kids who develop good habits and priorities in high school have an easier time at university, too.

It’s not that simple.

Of course, being a perfectionist and annoyingly organized and eternally studying has absolutely helped me be successful these past two semesters. But the habits you build aren’t a safety net for everything; some classes in college are just hard. Sometimes you just don’t get it. We go to a university with professors that are top in their fields of research, so obviously classes are going to do more than just scratch the surface. It’s going to be a lot of information. It’s going to be a bit of work. You can’t just be a floater.

In one of my classes this semester, I failed my first quiz ever and got a C on the one right after it. I was immediately angry at myself, I felt stupid and overwhelmed and like all my work was ruined. It was a classic case of catastrophic thinking. It wasn’t a joyful walk in the park. But there are some steps to get over it and bounce back when you get that exam back and the letter written at the top isn’t what you wanted.

Walk away from it. Obsessing over it does nothing. Take a breather. It’s one paper. Focus on something else for a little while and put your energy into future assignments.

When you’re ready, go to office hours. Review with your professor what you did wrong, and what you can practice in order to improve. Get a feel of what he or she is looking for in your answers, papers or whatever it is so you know better for next time.

Don’t let it deter farther work. A grade can easily discourage you from completing future projects or putting your effort into your work. You might have that thought in the back of your head, “What’s the point? I’ll probably do bad again anyways.” Don’t get into a cycle of self-pity and let a past grade dictate your future ones. That bad quiz doesn’t reflect your comprehension of the next chapter.

Repeat after me: it’s just one grade. Don’t go through the catastrophic thinking that I did. One bad grade is not the entire course, or your entire future, or your entire life. You did bad once. You’re going to be fine.

College is fun but sometimes it’s stressful. Don’t let your mind make it worse on yourself, and use your frustration as fuel to prove your fears wrong. You are going to make up for whatever little slip-up this was. I know it.

Academics, Advice, Classes, Stress


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