In college, the majority of my classes during my freshman year were fairly easy. Show up to class, do the readings and assignments, and pass the class. During the second semester of my freshman year, I was incredibly sick the first week of classes. We’re talking in and out of the emergency room kind of sick. I missed a lot of the really important first days where you learn more about the class and are taught the fundamentals to get you through the rest of the curriculum.
For all 6 classes I was signed up for, I met directly with professors and TA’s, explained my situation, and was given all of the material and information I needed to succeed. This worked fantastic for 5 of the classes! I was off to a great start and felt successful in the material. However, the 6th class… My statistics class. This was not sufficient. The information students were given on bell curves and percentiles took an entire class of one hour and twenty minutes to cover. However, I was given the reader’s digest version in a quick 30 minute office hours time slot with my professor.
I walked away from her office hours feeling like I understood. But then I sat down to do the first homework assignment and quickly realized I didn’t grasp the concept as well as I thought. The very next day I was in the TA’s office hours trying to understand what had just been taught to me. This was my very first interaction with statistics and it was going over my head. I felt so defeated because it wasn’t like my other classes where I just show up, do the work, and pass. I actually had to work for this grade!
The first test came a few weeks later and I struggled through it, but passed. Barely. Soon after, I developed the habit I needed for the class. Attend class, follow my professor to her office for her designated office hours. Go over everything we just discussed in class, plus anything from previous classes that I still didn’t understand (typically it went back to the fundamentals that I missed during the first week.) I would go home and struggle through my homework, then visit the TA the next day during her office hours. If I still felt like I was struggling, I would email my professor or TA and they would meet with me again later in the week.
This class felt like a part-time job, and rightfully so, I was spending the majority of my time and energy just trying to obtain a passing grade! Some weeks I would even go to the same statistics class but at a different time of the day/week to relearn the material again in a group setting.
The last day of class while taking the final was a big day for me. I walked in nervous and not quite knowing what to expect. I had just worked really hard all semester to do well in this class, so it was a hit or miss on whether or not I would do well on the test. I did the math based on my current grades and would need to score at least a 75% on the test just to pass the class. So as long as I could do 75% of the material, I would be okay.
Going through the questions of the test, my spirits rose as I continued to feel more and more confident in the answers I was giving! They didn’t feel overly complicated and suddenly everything started coming together for me. It was a sigh of relief as I handed my test to my professor. She gave me a big smile because she herself knew how hard I had worked all semester. Neither of us knew how I actually did at this point, but we both knew how hard it had been and how much time and effort I gave for this.
Roughly an hour later I received my score back via email. With shaking hands, I opened it to reveal my score.
Yes, you read that right. I scored ONE HUNDRED percent on my statistics final. I was teary-eyed reading it! I couldn’t believe it. I had to put so much work and effort into this class, so knowing that at the end of the semester I knew 100% of the information was incredible to me.
I still walked away from this class with a B for a grade, and coming from all straight A’s up until this point, I felt like I should have been more disappointed. Instead, I was thrilled. I wore that B grade with pride because it signified hard work, dedication, and knowledge to me.
It also taught me a good lesson that grades aren’t just a mark to show how well you did in the class or how much you participated. Because if that was the case, I would have walked away with an A++++ for how much time and effort I gave. Receiving a B as a grade truly was an indication of how well I understood the material throughout the entire class. It taught me that there absolutely is a reason to be excited about B’s, C’s, and even D’s for grades. Even though I ended the class with a B, I can only imagine that my professor was also beaming with pride from her office.