Difficult College Course? Use this, as your last resort!
Like many students, when I was in high school, I was a high-achieving student. Like…seriously. High school was a BREEZE! I was involved in every organization I could think of, got the highest marks, and occasionally had enough time to nurse an epic hangover or two. Again, high school was a breeze, and I was confident that I was ready for whatever a college course had to offer.
However, like many of the same students that fall under the “back in high school” category, I fell into the trap. I carried the same expectation from high school, into college. You’re parents were not watching you. The classes were not the same. Homework was significantly harder. The slide shows were misleading, and the professors never used the book.
To say the least, the bitter truth and reality of college knocked me on my ass…and it stung! The moment of my epiphany had nothing to do with under-studying for an exam, leaving an assignment until the last minute, or asking the guy who only showed up for the midterm and final for notes. Instead, it was all of it. This realization carried out through an entire semester. But this blog isn’t about my epiphany. Instead, through this experience, I learned an ace in the back pocket for students who are still trying to get their lives together and adjust to the rigor of university.
The moments leading to my reality check was on a Wednesday in the 200 level of Sociology. The Monday prior, I had just taken my first college exam, so I was pretty stoked to receive feedback on it. My professor stood at the front of the classroom in Goshen hall with a big, white brick that broke up into individual packets of paper. He began calling names, and after a moment, I was called. I rush up with and ecstatic bounce, and snatch my exam.
I eagerly flip it over, peek at the top right corner….91%. Though I was used to much higher, I was impressed by the results of my first exam and got back to my seat. From then on, for some reason, my effort and energy waned throughout the course of the semester. As a result, my grade in Sociology reflected this effort. I started out with an A, and finished with a C.
At some point or another, we all go through this. I realize that I did not experience the worst of the worst; however, during this experience, I’ve learned something that not everyone does. When in doubt, use “pass/fail.” Pass/fail allows you to preserve your GPA, while receiving credit for the class. Though it may not be beneficial in terms of courses for your major degree requirements, it is certainly helpful when you’ve underestimated a general education class, or just having a tough semester all around. Pass the class, and you’ll receive the credit without any benefit or detriment to your GPA. Fail the class, and you’ll receive no credits, while still preserving your GPA.
We each have our own shortcomings, so it’s important to know your strengths and weaknesses and hack your own tendencies to success. This is just my personal ace under the table when push comes to shove. The next time you find yourself in desperation mode, consider applying for a pass/fail.