I will never forget my first ever round of college midterms. In high school, I was a straight-A student. My grades were my highest priority, and anything less than a 93 percent was considered unacceptable. Everything I did in high school was to get me into my dream college, and, in my mind, if I ever received lower than an A on an exam or a report card, my future dreams of attending the College of William and Mary would be completely out of reach.
To be honest, even though I was constantly stressed out and panicked, I didn’t study very hard in high school. Sure, I was involved in several time-consuming extracurricular activities and took honors and AP courses, but I spent way more time stressing out than I did actually working. I was always sleep-deprived and worried, but now I couldn’t tell you why. While I was able to maintain my 4.00 grade-point average, I never actually learned real time management skills or how to properly study.
When I got into my top-choice school, the stress I had in high school felt worth it. When I got to college, I soon realized I was not prepared for college academics. At first, things were fine. The workload was large but manageable. It was more than I was used to, but the adjustment was not as terrible as I had worried. Once midterms rolled around, I realized how truly unprepared for college I was. I thought I had sufficiently studied for my exams, but once my grades came in a couple weeks later, I was shocked. My midterm exam average was a C. Never in high school had I ever received a C, let alone an exam worth a quarter of my grade.
To put it frankly, my exam grades sent me into a full panic. In high school, I put my self-worth in my GPA. When I got to college, I had the same mindset. I continued to put my self-worth in my GPA, and when my grades took a turn, I felt worthless. I felt as if I didn’t belong here. My solution to this problem was to work harder than I had ever worked before in order to bring my grades back up. I sacrificed a great deal of opportunities to feel good about my GPA. I missed club events, mixers and lunches with friends to study and work.
Since then, I have learned a whole lot. I have learned proper time management skills, I have learned how to take advantage of on-campus resources, I have learned how to study for exams, and, most importantly, I have learned that my GPA is far from the most important thing in my life. I will admit to still caring way too much about my grades, but freshman year taught me that there is nothing wrong with not having a 4.00.
It is unfair to expect yourself to get the same grades as you have previously. I will probably never be able to rid myself of the stress and anxiety that come with school, but no longer will I let my fear of getting a “bad grade” control me.
Email Katherine Yenzer at firstname.lastname@example.org.