It is no secret that college is hard; you’ve probably heard that exact statement since the first information session you sat in on your junior year of high school (oh, I’m sorry; it was probably more like first semester sophomore year. You like to get ahead on things). The subjects get harder, the activities take up more of your time, the classes get bigger, finals week exists, yada yada yada.
Academics have rarely been a challenge for you, especially in high school –– you’re the type that writing or math comes easily to. You were probably in charge of a club or two. You might’ve studied a bit then, but you didn’t really need to. You were an involved, straight-A, award-winning high school student. You’ve always considered yourself one of the "smart kids." You probably expected college to be a pretty smooth transition.
Sometimes, things don’t go exactly as planned.
Maybe your major isn’t what you expected it to be. Or you’ve overextended yourself trying to get involved in all of the things you’re interested in. Balancing a healthy social life with academics proves to be really challenging. You get an unexpected bad grade. You didn’t get the internship or the leadership position you really wanted. All of the above.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed; it might seem like everyone around you is getting on swimmingly and you’re struggling to stay afloat. It is even more difficult to remain calm when academia has always been the place you excelled: when you’ve built most of your identity around your academic achievements, a bad semester can feel like the end of the world.
You are more than your GPA.
Take a deep breath. Relax. Bad weeks, bad months, bad semesters happen. It’s normal. Just because you get a bad grade or two or three doesn’t make you a bad student. Don’t get me wrong, grades are still important –– make sure to keep your priorities in order –– but one bad semester isn’t going to dictate the rest of your life. You are still going to succeed. You are allowed to make mistakes; that’s half the college experience. There’s a reason for all of the information sessions, kid.
And those people you think are succeeding effortlessly? They’re not. There’s a good chance they are just as stressed as you are; some people are just a little bit better at disguising it.
College is hard, it’s true. But it also provides the perfect opportunity to get to know yourself, for real. Find out who you are outside of school. Make time for yourself. Take a study break everyone once in a while to hang out with your friends. Fail a few times. And if you need help? Ask for it--no one expects you to succeed all on your own. Do things because you want to, not because you think it’ll look good on an application.
Time to overachieve in the other parts of your life, kid.
A Fellow Overachiever