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My First-Ever F: A Story of Academic Resilience

I coasted through my first year with B’s, C’s and one P. I got the P in Biology, and I blamed it on procrastination and reeeaaally poor prioritization. I knew my mistake was not studying enough. It didn’t bother me too badly, though, because I actually liked biology, so I thought of it as a really bad mistake that I could easily rectify. And hey, at least I was far away from my biggest post-secondary nightmare: ACADEMIC PROBATION.

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This is how I feel about ACADEMIC PROBATION.

Sometimes I have trouble balancing my academic life with my life as a student life, and unfortunately my P grade in Biology didn’t motivate me to learn more about the effects this grade might have on my GPA or the admission requirements of my future university transfer. If my friends in my cohort were moving on fine, then why couldn’t I?  I was worried about letting my parents down and about my friends knowing that I was falling behind, so it was something I didn’t want to talk about to anyone. If I could convince myself I could do better without help, why mention it?

That was until I failed Math in the first term of my second year at Douglas College. It first started with super bad prioritization with my work hours, then I ignored my instincts to drop the course after I failed the midterm. I was too stubborn to admit that I couldn’t bounce back. I began missing classes and missing deadlines. I just believed everything would be okay.

At the same time, everything was changing. My friends in my cohort in the Future Teachers program were beginning to move on. The more they talked about it, the more I started to look into it. My GPA became more important to me than ever. As I was failing a prerequisite, I was finally realizing the importance of educating myself about transfer requirements and GPAs.

Finally, I started to worry about how much the F in Math would set me back. Would I lose my good standing? How will this affect future student loans? How far am I from transferring? I started thinking drastic options, like dropping out of school for a semester or switching to a career that I could easily obtain. I kept blaming myself and I didn’t really talk about it to anyone.

Then I spoke the truth. After I took the final, I told my supervisors at Student Engagement. Then I told my parents, in a fit full of tears. Finally, I spoke to my friend, an Academic Advising student assistant. It dawned on me that I was dealing with a lot of other stressful things at the time. My family moved for the first time in 15 years. I had gotten my FIRST JOB EVER, followed with my SECOND JOB EVER. But my biggest challenge to succeeding in a Math class was that I SUCK AT MATH. I felt so relieved once I acknowledged all of this. I tend to put the world on my shoulders all the time, so it helps to realize that I did the best that I could with the type of learner and leader that I am.

I went to Academic Advising, and they explained that my GPA would suffer but not enough for me to get on academic probation. Now that was one thing over and done with.

I just needed to retake Math and Biology. That night, I jumped on Pinterest and binge read a bunch of articles about starting over during a new semester, prioritizing properly, and making diagrams for Math. I took what I could from these tips and tricks, while also always remembering that these were other people’s experiences and some tips might not work for me.

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Study tips and academic inspiration are just a Pinterest search away…

Getting an F was a really scary and stressful experience, but I learned to ask for help, to do my research on the programs I’m interested in, and not to be so hard on myself. Right now more than anything else, I want to transfer and pursue becoming a teacher. I love student life, because it has nurtured me into a leader, but I’m ready to grow even more. I love being involved and being passionate about all the opportunities that are happening right now, however, I know that recommitting to my academic life can promise me exciting opportunities for my future and will allow me to bring all of my skills together. As long as I prioritize my studies and balance them with my leadership opportunities, I can get to the places I want to go.


Are you having a hard time in your classes, or ready to explore what you need to know to pursue a University transfer?  Be sure to check out Douglas’s Academic Advising Services, and all the links in the blog post above, which will help you find the information you need on these and other subjects. Just remember, whatever you’re going through, you’re not alone!

Also! Deepti is doing an Instagram takeover this week, so be sure to follow her there!

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