Making the best of failure in college

Amy McNeel

Failure in college, as in life, is inevitable. The truth is that college is hard, and with so much information to learn, memorize and deliver, sometimes we fall short of our expectations. In a place where it seems like the only thing that matters is a good GPA, failure can feel like the end of the world. However, I think that failure might be one of the most important aspects of college. It allows us to learn and to grow not only as intellectuals, but as humans. 

As college students, we have certainly experienced failure at some point in our lives. Whether big or small, critical or seemingly insignificant, our failures tend to surround us. In elementary school, I used to cry every time I got a bad test grade as if my whole future was ruined by a single failed math exam. Today, I still feel disappointed when I do poorly, but I have other ways to deal with that disappointment. It’s important to realize that we are not defined by our failures but by how we react to them. Of course, all failures are not academic, either. Failures can be personal, and they can occur in all different shapes and sizes. Failure to you could be not making the team, not getting the job or not reaching your goals. No matter the circumstance, failure can be detrimental if not treated properly.  

It can be so easy and appealing to just give up after things don’t work in your favor, but ultimately, there is no greater failure than doing just that. If you give up, you are only amplifying the letdown. Instead of giving up, you need to learn from the failure. If you fail an exam or class, you need to learn better ways to study. If you don’t make the team, you need to practice harder. If you didn’t get the job, you need to practice your interview skills. After a failure, you need to fight back. 

We are who we are because of the times we have failed. Failure makes us work harder and it makes us learn from our mistakes. I am a strong believer that school is not all about a good GPA. While grades are important, I think the most significant part of college is growing and developing as a student and a person. A part of this development is failure, and I think it is a key component of learning. If it weren’t for my failures, I wouldn’t have the work ethic or passions I have today. Due to this, I think that failure is important and even crucial during our time here. 

As a college student, our lives are full of new beginnings and opportunities. While it is our job to study hard, it is also our job to experience failure and start something new from it. I think that failure needs to stop being stigmatized at universities. While it can be a heartbreaking and huge setback, it can also help you to be so much more. We should not be afraid of failing during our endeavor for success, for it is inevitable. Instead, we should be afraid of standing stagnant in our endeavor for success.