Maybe the damage from that difficult class you’ll eventually take will not physically beat you up, but I have sure had my butt handed to me before. So what do you do when it happens? Pretty simple answer to that question. As motivational gurus constantly reiterate, it is the person who keeps coming back that will eventually succeed. My sophomore year managerial accounting class was a textbook example of how this mindset can power anyone through any academic fight to the finish. To give you a visual of how I felt after the first two quizzes and mid-term, imagine if someone got the crap kicked out of them by a young Muhammad Ali. Then only as they lay there panting, get stung worse than the imaginary bees in Tommy Boy. My gut reaction to all of it? Study. Study my pants off with a friend of mine who was in the same boat since quiz 2. Where did that get us? Two sold D’s each on the mid-term RETAKE. So by now we had tanked 4 things in this class and the future was looking grim. Between ours and a different hour, five people had already dropped it before spring break due to the difficulty. I mean this was some serious “five stages of loss and grief” stuff right here. I had experienced denial, thinking it would just get better, I was still angry but had mostly moved past the shock anger from seeing the bad grades, I and plenty of others tried bargaining with our teacher, the mild depression was there, and I was essentially in the “acceptance” phase by now. While waiting for an order of food one night I called the ‘rents and delivered the bad news. Pretty much having failed a $4000 class past the point of mildly decent grades, I was at a critical point of dropping or staying in. If I dropped it, then the focus could shift to maximizing my grades in the other three, however, I would have to take it at night over the summer to really keep on track. Either because I was stubborn or dumb, against the urging of most of my friends I stayed in it.
Our next mid-term (really a two part one, I know I know) was about a week and a half away and I knew something had to change. I threw in the ear buds and went to work every night reading the chapters, working the practice problems, and exercising early in the mornings to stay focused. By the time our exam rolled around, I figured well, I’m already at the bottom, so I might as well not be nervous like I was on the last four. Then something I didn’t expect happened. I received my test, and unlike the last ones were I was getting hung up on this, that and the other thing, I just skipped over the ones I did not get right away. The new mentality was if the last time sitting and thinking about it was a dead end, how could skipping it all together be any worse? I progressively moved through the exam, quickly finishing some and moving past others. When I reached the end, there were about four or five out of ten incomplete questions (they were long). When I looked at the clock, somehow there was more than half the time left! I stayed calm, revisiting the first one that was passed over. A few minutes later I was on to the next, then suddenly I was quantifying in my head “looks like I’m at a C+!” But then it was a B, then B+ (I was sure these were right) and finally I completed the test to a point where there was a very strong likelihood of an A. That’s exactly what I got! Then by what seemed like an even bigger stroke of luck, I swept the rest of the tests, quizzes and final to go from a D to a B+ by the end of our semester.
What’s the big takeaway here?
- Accepting the cards you have been dealt. Instead of trying to place blame or wherever you want to direct it, just accept that you will retake the class anyway. This should help you focus on actually digging yourself out when at the end of the day you know there is the retake safety net.
- Study with friends. I doubt I would have made the recovery I did if I had not been working with friends going for a similar target. Just make sure they are aiming for something as important as you, otherwise they can be distracting.
- Be healthy. I got more sleep, ate really well, and exercised a lot more leading up to the test that I aced and continued those routines through the semester on Monday-Fridays.