When I was in high school, I always felt the need to be perfect. I overwhelmed myself with my school work so much that I wasn’t even learning anything anymore—just getting things done. As you may already know, that defeats the point.
When I started college, I still wanted to be good at everything—until I wasn’t. The most important thing I’ve learned about college academics is not to be afraid to know your limits, and that it’s perfectly fine to make a mistake. The choice to allow myself to make mistakes wasn’t a conscious decision at first; there were a few experiences that truly helped me understand who I am as a student and what it means to be imperfect in college.
For instance, I recently took a science and civilization class that I’d anticipated would be easy, considering that the class was meant for students who didn’t choose a science-based major. However, after the first test… and then the second… I realized I wasn’t doing very well. I was nervous and panicky. What was I supposed to do? Every way I tried to redeem myself, I fell flat on my face.
Then, I had an idea that should’ve been obvious from the beginning: I emailed my teacher. She was kind enough to allow me to come to her office before classes, where we’d go over the study guide and ease my nerves before tests. I had to get up at 7 a.m. to do this, because the class was at 8:30. No matter how tired I was, I went because I saw results. My grades got better.
And I learned that there is no shame in getting help from your professors. They are there for a reason. Ten times out of ten, they are happier when students receive help, rather than just struggling on their own.
I’ve also learned that it’s okay to drop a course. I know that sounds scary; the idea of it may even make you feel like a failure. But you aren’t. The first time I dropped a class was my first semester of sophomore year, and it was French. To be quite honest with you, learning new languages is not my strong suit. I had high hopes in the beginning, but something told me that I wasn’t going to excel in the class—even if I were to get extra help. Sometimes, it’s okay to know your limits. Don’t force yourself to do something that may jeopardize your GPA just to save your pride. It’s perfectly fine to try another course or pick a different language. No one will judge you, I promise.
With these two instances in mind, just remember that everyone at Arcadia is there to learn. No one is judging you on your grades and, if you think you’re the only one who’s struggling, you are very wrong. Create study groups. Get help from your professors. Seek advice from your advisors.
Just don’t be afraid to seek out all your options. College academics are often a challenge, but you can make it easier.