By now (for better or for worse) fall semester grades are posted. You may be less than thrilled with how your courses turned out. You may be panicked that you did not achieve that perfect 4.0. This may be the first time in your life you have ever had to study, struggled academically, or even gotten a grade lower than an A.
This was me. Entering my first year at Ohio State I had never gotten anything less than an A- and I was bound and determined to make sure it stayed that way. Yes, I knew that college courses were more rigorous, but I had always succeeded academically…so why should anything be different once I got to college?
What I didn’t know was that on top of all of my course work, I had to teach myself how to study. This was a skill I had never truly developed in high school and I was finding it a difficult skill to acquire. I thought that spending all of my time reading and “studying” was what it would take to be a successful student. It took me a while–actually, my entire first year–to learn what worked best for me when it came to studying and that what works best for other people doesn’t necessarily work for me.
I spent an excessive amount of time my first year studying and focused mostly on my studies. And while I did achieve a 4.0 my first year at Ohio State, I didn’t feel as accomplished as I thought I would. My mother actually told me that she wished I would get a B because she thought it would take a lot of pressure off of me. I thought she was crazy, I was doing fine at Ohio State; I had a 4.0 for goodness sake!
Fall semester of my second year I was enrolled in an Honors accounting class. It was the toughest class I had ever taken; the material was difficult and I was thoroughly confused. I spent many hours trying to decipher the information and went to office hours regularly. I had gotten a C on the first midterm and I was traumatized. I didn’t know how this had happened. I worked even harder, getting more and more stressed over this class. To this day, I remember taking the final exam and the joy I felt when I got my cash flow statement to balance.
I ended up with a B+ in that class and to be honest it is the grade I am most proud of. Yes, it may not have been the A I wanted, but I learned the most from that class and I worked the hardest for that grade. I not only learned the material for the exams, but I retained the information and still use the knowledge from that class in my accounting classes today.
As much as I hate to admit it, my mother was right: getting a B did take a lot of pressure off of me. I realized that the world didn’t end because I no longer had a 4.0 and that everything was okay. Looking back, I realize I had neglected a lot of relationships and missed a lot of opportunities because I was holed up in my room studying all of the time. I now have a much more relaxed attitude toward my academics and spend more time on my relationships. I realize that ten years from now I am not going to remember those two extra hours I spent studying for my law exam, but I will remember that dinner I cooked with my friends and the conversations we had. This more relaxed attitude has actually helped me in my academics because it has reduced the stress and anxiety I often felt before exams.
Getting a B was the best thing that has ever happened to me. It made me realize there is more to my college experience than academics and that the relationships I build are just as important as the grades I achieve.