For students, finals are inevitable. At the end of the semester, students have to put studying first in order to pass their classes. Finals mean less fun, less sleep, less exercise, and less quality of life. Taking a final is the act of putting what you know on the line for your grade. If you do not know anything, you will likely get another chance the next semester. That is because you failed and have to take the class again.
I knew this my entire five-year college tenure. This made when I missed my final last week even more shocking.
Allow me to preface this stressful tale by first stating that I am a damn good student. I chose to be an English major in 2012, and since then, I have not seen anything lower than a B on my report card. A year ago I joined the Humanities' Honors Society, and as we speak, I am writing a thesis for that program as well as another on-campus program. Failure has never been an option for me.
However when I woke up Wednesday to a text from a loyal classmate asking where the hell I was, I had already clocked in a zero for my final. The truth of me sleeping through my final reflects bad upon me. Simply put, I thought my final was on Friday of that week. That assumption caused me a lot of distress. I got up from my nap after receiving that text to check on how late I was to attend my final. Unfortunately, I had missed all but thirty minutes of the allotted time. Also unfortunate is the fact that I live thirty minutes away from campus.
I sprung into action and off of the couch. As I threw on whatever clothes I had on the floor, I shouted my favorite courses. I checked the syllabus, and to my dismay, listed on it was the correct final time. I threw those papers on the ground and stormed out. I was not even prepared with the scantron paper required to record the final answers on. I sped out of the driveway and made it about halfway to the freeway before I pulled over.
I knew that I would miss my professor on campus, so speeding there was a waste of time. I drove back home and wrote the most pitiful email I have ever composed. It expressed my fears of failing, my good record, my honors status, my hopes of graduating next semester, and how sick I was from the realization that I was on track to fail that class. All I could do after sending the email was wait and sulk.
Luckily, my parents were sympathetic to my situation. They sat down and talked with me as I expressed my awful feelings about the past school year. Talking about how I felt helped. Also, a glass of special eggnog took the edge off. I laid on the couch and watched The Santa Claus as the night drew to a close. Just as I was getting ready for bed, I checked my email and saw a response from my professor. To my delight, the email stated that I could retake the final exam, but that I should be eternally grateful for the second chance.
I replied to say thanks to my professor, and I began the last preparations for the test. Between reading the email and the next day, I put several hours into pouring over my notes and preparing for the test. That day, I left home early to pick up a scantron and make it to the room on time. I even had two exams that day, but I only really studied for the one I missed. (Mi otra examen fue en español, pero yo recibi una A por mi nota en eso.)
I went to the instructor's class early to ensure everything went smoothly. This really ensured that I could sit nervously and fidget. When my professor came in minutes later, I received the biggest look of "happy you could make it, Mr. Breuer." After handing out everyone else their final, the professor handed me my separate final that ensured if I had the answers from the previous testing session I still could not cheat.
Luckily, it appeared my studying paid off. In less than thirty minutes, I was out of class. Before I left, I made sure to make my professor's time worthwhile. On the way to my finals, I stopped by See's Candy and picked up a twenty dollar box of chocolates. I gave these to my professor with my completed final. Chocolate bribery can get you far.
Both the studying and the bribery paid off because I received an email the next day from my professor about my grade. The email told me I got a B on the final and an A on one of our final projects. That was the best news I could get to put a cap on a semester of hard work.
Missing a final taught me what is important. For five years, my number one priority has been getting good grades. Missing a final and receiving an F would ruin the plan of my last five years. In the time between finding out I missed my final and receiving an email from my professor telling me I could make it up, I had a time of grief and reconciliation. I knew I was in for big trouble with a failing grade. I would not graduate on time, and I would lose my honors status. I had to sort these things out in order to be at peace with myself. I came to the realization with the help of my parents and a few drinks that life was not over if I messed up once in a silly class.
Although failing would not have looked good, it would not make me a failure. I am still the guy who aced enough classes and achieved himself into an honor program. Even if I lost my high status from a simple mistake, I would still be that person inside. Five years from missing the final, I would not remember it in the slightest. I had this feeling when I received the email from my professor, and that made my second chance much better.
It was the second chance my professor gave me that allowed me to end my semester on a high note. Although I am at peace with myself, by taking on extra work to allow me to pass shows me how much my professor cares about the students in class. Missing my final has given me some sort of appreciation for second chances and the kindness of others. I vow to never miss another final, and I also vow to appreciate when people help me or give me a chance out of the kindness of their heart. Thank you, Professor.