I used to describe my first-year university experience as a mediocre rollercoaster ride. Five years later, all I can really say is that I was hopeful as a first-year student. That was my first mistake.
Being in six classes and five labs, I knew that my first semester was going to be heavy. I was advised to split it into two years instead, but I was confident and insisted that I could handle it.
The major I chose was difficult, but the rewarding salary waiting after graduation was my main motivation. I was happy with picking my major based on its profitability because I wanted a high income. That was my second mistake.
When midterms came, I struggled but persevered. I managed to pass my hardest midterm, but my grade was odd. It said that I got 25 marks out of 40, but the marks per question yielded a total of 10 out of 40 — or in other words, 25 percent.
I showed my professor my test. He said that I got 25 marks out of 40, achieving a grade of 62.5 percent. I was ecstatic and continued to be hopeful for the coming weeks.
Knowing that I passed my most rigorous exam motivated me because as the upper-year students said, ‘Pass this course and the rest of your university years will be easy.’ I had proven to others that I could do it — I could boast about my success, but little did I know that seeking the validation of others was my third mistake.
A few days after my finals, I received an email detailing how we did on our labs, assignments and midterm for that class. My surroundings blurred and my breathing became shallow. Beside the bolded title “Midterm Examination” was a 25 percent mark. I emailed my professor to make sense of what happened.
My professor replied after a couple of hours to tell me that on his records, it said 25 percent. He asked me to provide a scanned copy of my exam to show what I meant, so I did.
The grade breakdown showed that I needed to pass one of the exams to be successful overall. If it was true that I failed my midterm, I knew immediately that I had failed the class.
I still remember the day that I opened PAWS to check my grades and how devastated I was seeing that my total mark was 28 percent. I opened my email to see if my professor had replied — he had not. I never received an explanation for the confusion on my grade.
In the end, perhaps it was not being hopeful that led to my demise, but being naïve. When the semester starts, don’t depend on hope and sheer will alone. The best thing you can do is get to know yourself and your limitations.
On top of my overconfidence, I wanted the validation of others when the only validation I needed was my own. Lastly, I thought about the money over my own happiness when I chose where I wanted to be in the future.
Fast forward to now, and I can’t fully explain the joy that I feel. I am in a better suited career, no longer feel like a failure and I can say that I am truly and tremendously hopeful for the future.
J.C. Balicanta Narag / Copy Editor
Graphic: Shawna Langer / Graphics Editor