Ask Natalie: I failed — what now?

“Dear Natalie,

I’ve failed my first ever midterm. I’ve never failed at anything before. I’m in this state of shock and anger at myself and I can’t figure out what went wrong. I don’t really know what to do.”

Welcome to university — I mean that in the least mean way possible.

It seems to me that failing a midterm — or at least performing way under your own expectations — is some sick rite of passage. I know many who felt the pain of a failed midterm in their first semester, but at least be thankful it’s not a failed class.

Your first term at UBC is often something of a whirlwind. You have to move into a new place, make new friends, try to join some clubs and start and fail at least four times to go to the gym on a regular basis. Somehow, in it all, you can forget that you’re in a new school with new teachers who don’t really care about you, new study habits that need to be formed, new tests, new papers and new midterms. 

It’s so easy to push aside your readings when your friends invite you out because, of course, you’ll go to class and it’s easy to sleep through it — how were you supposed to know 8 a.m. classes were the worst thing since tequila? 

You don’t have a lot of ways to see if you’re doing well until your first midterm and by then it’s terribly hard to catch up. So you failed. So do a lot of people. But it’s how you pick yourself up that matters. 

Start studying. I mean it. None any of this, “Oh, I’m studying, but YouTube is open.” I mean honest to goodness going somewhere else with no technology and just studying. If you have issues with that, get something like Cold Turkey where you can block certain websites on your computer for a set amount of time. It can save your studying life if you’re a slave to the internet. Give your phone to someone else so you can’t check it every three minutes. 

If you need reinforcement on why you need to buckle down, put that failed midterm in your agenda or textbook. Work hard and make the rest of the semester yours. You can recover from a failed midterm as long as you can recover from your bruised ego.