So I have had straight A’s since the second grade. Even the raggedy 5th grade teacher that I had that attempted to change my grades because I was just “going to have babies anyway,” couldn’t stop my drive. I took and graduated from the International Baccalaureate program at my high school. I was apart of the first class of graduates from the program. I had been wined and dined by many colleges but I decided to go to Pennsylvania State University. I was offered a full scholarship and with other local scholarships my college was financially was looking great.
My first day on campus I was a nervous wreck. I really enjoyed the happy environment that “happy valley” showed me. I already knew a few people on campus and so for a freshman I was feeling myself. I felt like I had the social life down. I didn’t but that’s how I felt. So as time passed and we had that extended weekend to get settled, and meet new people it was time for classes to begin. So I walked into my classes so ready to learn and meet new challenges. However when I stepped into my math class it really made me rethink why I had come to college to begin with. This teacher was from another planet. He just went too fast and I couldn’t grasp the information. He had to classes were like 50 minutes and he meant to “teach” you in that little bit of time. At Penn State he might have taught 10 more classes that day the same way. It really was a huge campus and we all had to have this class for our general education requirements.
I will call this math teacher Richard. It’s no where what his actual name was but Richard will do. Richard was a hard teacher. He had been teaching for years but it was something about his teaching style initially that I didn’t like. So I knew I was going to have to work harder in this one. Math was never my favorite but I excelled in it before. As I knew I hadn’t gotten the first lesson, I just kept going I of course got a little cocky. Here I was a student who had competed with students all around the world and still found success so I didn’t study hard. I did minimal work and then that first exam came, I failed it! Not even like barely passed failed, nope like the type of fail where I’m sure the points I had gotten was for getting my name right. I had never failed at anything and I didn’t tell anyone about it initially.
To some students it would be no big deal however for a student like me I was devastated. I remember me not saying anything for the first day of receiving my grade. I was shocked, afraid and in the back of my mind I kept thinking I was going to lose my scholarship. I did the most hardest thing ever and that was call my parents. I didn’t even speak. My mom gave her normal what’s up buttercup line and I just started crying. She couldn’t even understand what I was saying. I could hear her mom voice about to go into extra because the way I cried you would have thought I was physcially hurt. I hadn’t been on campus a month. Once I got settled and finally told her what happened she was like okay calm down. She told me to go and meet with the teacher during office hours and ask for extra help. She told me that college wasn’t high school. She reminded me that I was on campus with a million other kids that are scholars in their own right and I was going to have to work smarter not harder. My dad agreed and told me I would be alright. He said go get yourself together and do what I had to do. I did.
I met with the teacher and passed that class with an A. Go figure. I couldn’t rely on my smarts, I had to work. I wasn’t the top of my class. At Penn State I was one of…. I had to humble myself and learn the new way of learning. I wasn’t in a small town with small classes of kids I had been in school with forever. The main campus where I attended had thousands of undergrad and graduates. So it helped me to fail that class. I learned about all of the academic support that was available. I learned to navigate better. I was able to see my weakness for the first time. That lesson has helped me in my personal life. I’ve bad many trials in my life, but I am able to know that I can’t do it all. There will be times where I will need help and it’s okay to speak up. If you are in college, thinking about college, or a freshman please learn to utilize all academic support. They come in handy for many classes. They can help with papers, etc. They are an endless wealth of assistance but you have to be willing to go to them. It worked out in the end for my good. I may have had more challenging classes since then but I didn’t fail in more exams becasue I learned how to get it together.