Keep Calm and Keep Trying


By: Megan Cohen

Let’s admit it: we all make mistakes. We’ll do a lab incorrectly, forget a homework assignment, or study the wrong material for a test. But that doesn’t mean it’s all over. With the beginning of a new semester, it’s the perfect time to assess how we’ve been working in the last couple of months, and to think about what we can improve on. Everyone deserves an opportunity to reach their goals.

Depending on your grades, you may feel discouraged, a situation that serves as both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, you’re obviously down and feeling disappointed in yourself, knowing you could have done better. But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel because now you have a clean slate. You no longer have that bad test score keeping you from getting the grade you wanted. Now you have a second chance to get it.

Some students set simple goals, like Alicia Kitchens, a sophomore. “I just want to get better grades,” she says. Goals like these can make things a bit less stressful, since you’re not focusing on an exact percentage grade, but instead one that is simply higher than the last one. After all, why get upset about a 94  when you were aiming for a 95? Sometimes keeping it simple is best.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a more specific goal, such as freshman Rebecca Kayembe’s. “I want to get all A’s for one quarter,” she shares. Once in a while, we may slack off. We may not try as hard to get a higher grade, because it’s been improved by three percentage points. When you have one exact number to work towards, you’re not thinking, “My grade’s pretty decent, so I won’t do extra credit,” you’re saying, “I’ll do extra credit because I don’t have a 90.” A goal like this might keep you more on top of things, and even help you work harder in the rest of your classes.

In some cases, you may prefer to not have any goals at all. You may not believe in them, or you are already confident that you’ll earn a good grade. “I don’t really have a specific goal,” says senior Brian Horne. Not having a goal can make for a smoother semester; it’s not playing like a broken record in your head, making you more stressed out than you already are. As long as you know you’ll work hard and won’t slack off, a goal is not always necessary.

It can be difficult to admit your faults, but at a time like this in the school year, it’s crucial. Take some time to look over your grades for the past two quarters on Clarity. Have you been forgetting homework? Your quiz grades are a little low; do you maybe not study enough? Do you not pay enough attention in class? Make a list of the things you can work on, as well as the things you’ve been doing great with so far that you need to keep up.

Some students make the mistake of thinking, “I did terrible first semester, so doing well the next one won’t make much of a difference.” Before they know it, it’s the end of the year and their grades aren’t looking so great. Your first semester does not determine how you’ll do until June. It’s important, sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to blow off the next two quarters. Don’t ignore your mistakes; strive to correct them.

Midterms and finals aren’t fun, but they can be the thing that helps you get the grades you want, or the very thing that holds you back from doing so. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you don’t have to study; you never know what questions are going to pop up. Avoid cramming, or else you’ll just rush through “studying” and hardly read the material. Study groups are a great method for preparing, assuming, of course, you can work well with friends. When test days arrive, don’t stress too much or else you’ll find yourself blanking.

Whether you did great the first semester or really slacked off, you now have a second chance. You’re probably going to have to work a little harder now, but that’s what school’s all about. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, though; you don’t want to crack. Turn in all your assignments, study for midterms, and stay focused. You’ll be fine.