There are two conflicting stories everyone always hear. One, is that grades matter. Good grades and test scores are what impress colleges and employers and anything less than the best is not good enough. And then the second is that grades aren’t everything, happiness and satisfaction with your work is the main priority. However, the latter is much harder to believe, especially in a university culture where there always seems to be competition to be the best, to be the most involved in extracurriculars, and to have everything figured out. But in Joyce’s presentation and the panel of graduate students, it was shocking to hear that the majority of them had failed or almost failed a class, retaken the class, and still did poorly in it, but they still had success in their post-undergraduate pursuits. The personal stories they shared on their failures were incredibly reassuring, in my opinion, because it showed that it is okay to fall short of success sometimes and it what you do after the failure that has the biggest influence on your life.
I believe that this lesson is incredibly important to hold onto throughout college and into our careers. Nobody plans to fail, but when it happens, there are two things you can do: let it consume you, or let the failure teach you perseverance. In order to accept failure, I am going to have to let myself trust that things will work out, even if they are not what I had planned.
The experiences the panel shared really emphasized the truth that grades, test scores, and GPAs are just letters and numbers, they are not indicative of the work ethic, personality, or character of the person, which is what schools and employers are interested in. While I do think good grades still do matter and should be strived for, I’ve learned that grades do not have to control your life and that failure should not be something to be ashamed of, but rather learned from.
How have your thoughts on failure changed after this panel discussion, and how do you think it is going to influence your perspective throughout college/your career? Do you think the consequences of failure are the same for everyone, or was it just pure luck that all the graduate students had everything work out, despite their failures?