What I Learned About The Fear Of Failure After Almost Flunking Out Of School


At the beginning of freshman year, I thought college would be just as easy as high school. Sure, I heard people say it was harder in the sense that it had a heavier workload and your only grades came from midterms and finals, but it never really registered with me that I would actually have to work a lot harder to get even a B- in a course.

I thought I could skimp on the readings, not show up to class half of the time, start studying the night before an exam and still get passable grades.

For the first semester of college, I thought I was doing fine. The only courses I was struggling with were my biology and economics courses. Let’s be real here: Biology and economics were not my strong suit. For some reason, I thought I could somehow get an A or a B in those courses (as well as the other three I was taking) without trying very hard.

I was wrong. My naïve, young self thought I could get by with minimal amounts of studying and effort, so I spent hardly any time getting to know my professors or going to their office hours for assistance.

In my mind, asking for help wouldn’t have been worth it. Who cares how one person is fairing out of a 300-person lecture? What I didn’t realize at the time was that most professors genuinely care about each of their students, regardless of class size.

As the semester went on, I kept doing poorly on homework, quizzes and exams, which forced me to drop one of them. It sent me on a last-minute quest to find tutors for the rest of the courses I was taking. By the end of the semester, I was nearly failing half of my classes, and I couldn’t seem to find a quick way to improve my grades to a somewhat acceptable standard that I could show my parents.

I ended up failing both my math and economics courses. I was too afraid to admit my failure to my mom and dad, so I kept telling them my grades hadn’t been posted yet. I was scared I would end up either on academic probation or be forced to drop out.

At the time, they seemed to believe me, and I made it back to campus for the spring semester of my freshman year. As the semester went on, however, my parents grew suspicious. I had kept telling them my grades still hadn’t been posted, despite the fact I was halfway through second semester.

They kept asking, and I kept up with the lie until my dad finally decided to take matters into his own hands. He caught me redhanded, and he and my mom immediately reacted by telling me how disappointed they were.

They wanted me to transfer to an “easier” school where the class sizes were smaller, the professors cared more about each individual student and people were willing lend more of a helping hand to a student in need. I didn't want to leave.

As afraid as I was to ask for help, I was more afraid to completely uproot my life by leaving the school I had spent a year of my life attending.

Things got better during spring semester. I was learning from my mistakes, but I didn’t do as well as I expected to.

Even though most of my grades had improved, some of them didn't, which only reinforced my parents’ thinking that I was better off taking a semester’s load of courses at a branch campus or community college. In the face of all this stress and anxiety, I struggled to keep even a C average. I ended up dropping one of my courses halfway through the semester and failing another one completely.

Through all of this academic struggle, I never heard a peep from my university. My parents and I were astonished that I had yet to be placed on academic probation, or worse, expelled. This felt like the second chance my parents were reluctant to give me.

What my parents couldn't understand was I wasn’t ready to change my life so drastically. I was finally starting to make friends and starting to figure out what I wanted to major in. Despite the fact that my grades weren’t all As, I was slowly starting to adjust to being at a larger university and the heavy course load, which I saw as a step in the right direction.

Going through the entire mess that was my freshman and sophomore years of college, I realized that almost failing was actually more beneficial than destructive. Failure placed a chip on my shoulder, and that chip is going to motivate me through the rest of my college years.

Failure taught me how to work hard. Failure taught me how to pick myself up after knocking myself down. Failure taught me I have the will and the way to ensure I'll never become a college dropout.

I never would have learned this lesson if I hadn't almost failed out of college entirely.

Throughout my first two rocky years of college, I learned the world is a much harsher place than my sheltered mind originally thought. There are no shortcuts. There is no easy way out. It's either you work hard to learn from your mistakes, or you get left in the dust with no one to blame but yourself.