Your First “F” Isn’t A Fail

Fourth Estate/Billy Ferguson


Ah, yes. That gut-wrenching feeling you get when you look around at everyone getting their tests handed back to them in class and hear different waves of sighs, groans and slamming of papers on desks from students who can’t even bear to look at their grade. Then, the professor reaches your desk and hands you back your test:

“‘F’ – Try harder next time. Needs more emphasis.”

That feeling. That awful feeling you get from seeing that “F” across your own paper that you spent hours working on, maybe only 30 minutes, maybe even less than that. It sucks not getting a good grade on work that you did for a class. Nonetheless, not every “F,” or even your very first “F,” on an assignment is a sign that you are never going to do well on anything ever again in your college career. As students, especially college students, we have a huge responsibility to readjust ourselves to any new environment we are put in, whether that may be a different class, learning about different topics, testing out skills and real-life situations involving our intended major. Whatever the case may be, that one failing grade that you got on an assignment usually doesn’t dictate if you will be successful or not in any of these categories. It especially does not dictate your intelligence. 

“F” can mean failing. It can mean you didn’t meet the expectations at all for a certain assignment. However, it does mean that there is room for improvement. It can also mean there is room to try again. Learn from the mistakes you make on assignments such as grammar errors, fact checks. Perhaps it means even starting over your entire assignment. It does not mean that you should stop where you are.

Personally, as a freshman I am starting off with a positive outlook on my grades and how well I know I will do this year. You may be thinking, “This girl definitely doesn’t know what’s coming her way,” but I can assure you that I do. 

The best way that I have always dealt with my grades — whether they are good are bad — is just always having a positive attitude about what I recieve. Every failing or low grade I have received on my work in the past didn’t stop me from getting to where I am today. The way that I see it is that it is an opportunity to know what not to do next time on a certain assignment, test, online module, etc.

I know for a fact that down the road during the next four years, if I receive a failing grade on an assignment I will not necessarily let it break me down, but I will let it lift me up to become more prepared for other obstacles or lessons I encounter. 

If you are always hard on yourself whenever you get a bad grade, it will essentially do the opposite of motivating you to “get better” and will end up making you become more insecure and unsure about future assignments and how much effort you put into them. 

And if you really think about it, when you are in the next chapter of your life pursuing whatever dream you have for yourself, the last thing you are going to be thinking about is how you failed that one narrative paper in your COMM 101 class.

Needless to say, we are all in the same boat and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.