I’m nowhere near being a perfect student. In high school, I repeatedly bombed chemistry tests, physics tests, biology tests, geometry tests… You get the idea. Math and science have never been my thing. I’m also not a great test-taker. Give me a paper any day, but tests give me serious anxiety. But I had never flat-out failed a final before.
When I got to college, I kind of assumed my days of just barely passing tests were over. Sure, I would have to work hard and study to get good grades, but since I wasn’t taking that many math and science classes anymore, I figured I was mostly out of the danger zone.
As a journalism major, most of my classes had papers and articles as finals, rather than sit-down tests. This proved beneficial until I took a data journalism class this year that brought back all the feelings I had hoped to leave behind for good in high school.
I’ll be totally upfront that the math in this class wasn’t particularly hard. Like, at all. For the most part, it was pretty basic stuff. Unfortunately, Excel proved to be the death of me.
For the first half of the semester, I coasted along and everything seemed to be going pretty well. I got decent grades on the homework, I even miraculously pulled a B on the midterm. It wasn’t going to be my highest grade of the semester, but I was pretty confident that with a little extra studying I could pull a solid B in the class. Again, I really did not think I was going to fail.
As the final approached, so did our use of Excel. I started to get nervous. Everyone in the class seemed to be understanding everything perfectly, except for me.
I don’t quite understand what I didn’t, and still don’t get about Excel. I’ve never been very good with technology or numbers, so the combination of the two was basically a complete mess. More than once, I left the class on the verge of tears, feeling completely stupid.
Here’s where I went wrong. I didn’t reach out to the teacher for help. I started cramming for the exam about two days before. I studied a little with a friend who had a much better grasp on the material than I did, but did so the night before the exam. Though I knew most of the material by the time the test came around, I was mostly clueless when trying to apply it to questions that may have been on the exam.
But honestly? I don’t completely regret it. Sure, I should have started studying earlier, and reached out to other classmates, and the professor… There was a lot I should have done. But I put a lot of effort into the classes I enjoyed more, and in those classes, the effort paid off. I was doing a lot of writing outside of school at the same time as finals. In short, I was putting more effort into things that would probably have more of an impact on my future than this class.
I’m not endorsing failing a final. It wasn’t a fun experience and I’m going to try and make sure it doesn’t happen again. But as the ancient saying goes, “C’s get degrees.”
In college, every test and assignment feels bigger and more significant than high school. And for the most part, that’s because it is. You’re there to get a degree that in a subject that you (hopefully) enjoy, and as a result, everything feels a little more personal. But as I learned the hard way, failing one final really has no major repercussions. You’ll be just fine.
That being said, I’m gonna study a little more next time.