It’s the second day after spring break,

and I made a mistake.

Actually, it’s probably a good thing I checked my grades when I did, because at least now I still have a couple of options.

I’m passing my major specific courses with flying colors — they’re fun and easy.  I’m even doing well in statistics, surprisingly.  Teaching myself the material and exploiting my math-savvy coworkers for tutoring is working really well.

But geology is slaying me.

I’d like to blame my professor.  I let my guard down when I thought he was kind and fun — but it turns out he kind of has a mean streak.  He calls people out for not knowing answers to things he hasn’t taught us, and he doesn’t explain processes very well.

And the grade is determined exclusively by exams.

This is not great news for someone who struggles with exams in STEM courses.  Ask my boyfriend; he tutored me through algebra, and he will tell you that I knew my stuff when we were in my room working through homework problems.

But I nearly failed every single exam in that class, because as soon as I sat down with the pencil and scantron, I forgot everything I knew when I walked into the room.

And all those exercises, the breathing, the meditation, the tips and tricks to battling test anxiety?

Yeah, that’s all bullshit.  It really doesn’t work, and I’ve tried them all, many times.

So now I’m legitimately failing a course for the first time in my entire life, and it’s slamming into my chest like a canon ball, because I have ridiculously high expectations of myself, and failure is never an option.

Except today it is.  I have two options: do the best I can and hope my good grades absorb the bad one, or withdraw.

One is futile.

The other is admitting defeat.

What’s a girl to do?



  1. Text me. But until then,

    1) People fail classes all the time. I’ve had more than my share which is why I was on the 7 year college plan. Not something I would recommend, but it does happen.

    2) Withdrawal is a viable option to save your GPA. But, things to consider are whether you can afford to pay for an extra course/semester, whether you there’s another professor available with whom to take the class (or would a repeat be with him again), and is this repeat going to push out other plans such as graduation.


    1. This is excellent advice. The failing option is the pits because it does destroy one’s GPA. I failed Philosophy my junior year in college and when you fail a class that late in the game, there’s no recovery for the wounded GPA.

      When I failed that philosophy class, I had to take the class again — and unfortunately, I had no other choice than the same professor. I’m not sure if it was some twisted mercy on his part, or if it really did work out this way, but I HAD to make an 80 on the final exam to pass with a “C” — and I made an 80 on the final exam.

      Explore the withdrawal option and find out if you can take the class at another community college, or if there is a different, friendlier science class that will meet the requirement. (I took Geology as a sophomore and ended up making a “D” — I hated that class. Wish we could have talked before you signed up for it.)

      I know you think college is a lot harder than it was back in the “dark ages” when I went. I think the course of study made a lot more sense back then. So in that regard, it may have been easier, but I’m pretty sure professors’ expectations were every bit as hard or harder. And if you think professors are mean now, let me share this story: I took Psychology at Alvin Community College one semester. There was a student in my class named “Steve,” and the instructor told him upfront “You better work hard this semester. My ex-husband’s name is Steve and I can’t promise I won’t think of that when I grade your work.” 😮

      Whatever you decide, I promise you I will not mention your graduating GPA 20 years later, like my mom did. Just do the best you can and get the degree. At least you have two years to heal any GPA wounds, unlike I did.


      1. The Steve story is crazy but not totally unexpected. One other thing to research is how your school handles repeating a class for an F. Some will overwrite the F for the new grade. Others will average. Some will keep both grades in your GPA calculation. Find out before the semester is done.

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