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Success with two C’s and no failure

Jasmine Singh is a 2018 Diploma Programme (DP) graduate of Douglas County High School. She reflects on expectations in education during her transition from high school to university.

Success with two C’s and no failure

By Jasmine Singh

“The, “smartest”, do not necessarily move the farthest in life. It is those with a dedication and drive.”

The transition from high school to college is a tough one, especially when you’re making a big change such as going out of state, going from a small school to a big school or anything in between. One of the most difficult things for me was not only dealing with that change but also dealing with academic change as well. Being in the IB Diploma Programme (DP) was very challenging and rigorous, which is good because it prepared me well for college. But there was something else I was going to have to learn to accept and that was not meeting my unrealistically high academic expectations. During my time in IB, I worked tirelessly for the grades that I earned, which heavily benefitted me when I got to college.

The transition to college was quite difficult for me since I ended up at a very large university in a state that I was completely unfamiliar with. I had no one that I knew from home, so I was basically starting from scratch. However, this is not going to be about my transition to college. This is going to be about how I came to terms with academic changes. I knew college was going to be difficult, but I did not know the full scope of that difficulty initially. This did not really, “hit”, me until I got to my first calculus class freshman year [first year of university]. This course was very difficult for me for many reasons. It was mainly because my background in math was, “lacking”, compared to most others in the course, who had already taken AP calculus. The course also did not allow the use of calculators, which was something I was going to have to get used to, since it was all I had known in high school. The calculator was a crutch for me, but I knew that I was going to do very poorly in the course if I did not learn how to adapt.

Fast-forward to the end of the first semester and I ended with a flat D in the course. This came with a wave of shock and emotion on my part because I did not know how my parents would react. Additionally, it meant that I would need to retake the course since I did not earn a C minus or higher to move on to calculus II. It was very tough for me to get used to, because I had constantly compared myself to others who had passed and it made me think that my whole college experience would be similar.

Now I have ended my sophomore year and I have a wonderful GPA and two Cs under my belt. I am proud of those Cs because I worked very hard to earn them. I found that it is sometimes difficult for people to accept grades like this, as they symbolize failure to them. I was one of those people. It took me over a year to accept that I am more than a number. I recently tweeted asking fellow academics to, “raise their hands”, if they have ever gotten Cs or lower. The tweet went viral with thousands of replies, retweets and likes.

Everyone who replied and retweeted was sharing their stories of, “failure”, in college and how they still earned PhDs or became professors, even teaching those same courses they once failed. It opened my eyes to how academia engrains in our heads that these scores are, “bad”, and that we won’t get anywhere in life if we perform a certain way, but it is not true at all. It is just a lie that we are told in order for us to work harder to achieve As and Bs. The, “smartest”, do not necessarily move the farthest in life. It is those with a dedication and drive. Those that can learn from failures and come back stronger. The second time I took the course, I got a B plus and I have never looked back.

Jasmine Singh is an undergraduate student at Purdue University studying Planetary Science with a double major in Atmospheric Science. She is interested in studying planetary atmospheres with the hopes of finding life one day. Currently, she researches with the Johnson Cloud Lab under Dr. Alexandria Johnson, studying planetary atmospheres beyond Earth. It has been her dream since she was little to search for life beyond Earth, and after graduate school, she hopes to pursue a career at NASA.  

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