Ask Natalie: What do I do if I fail a class... Specifically MATH 105

“Dear Natalie,

This was my first year and I feel like I did everything wrong. My grades are kind of awful, I'm not involved in anything on campus and my friends are the kind of friends you don't talk to once you stop living with them. I'm going back home for the summer (I live out of the province) and I'm already worried about my return to UBC. It's kind of shit. I feel like shit. I don't want to drop out, but how do I fix my social life and every other part of my life so I don't hate coming back?”

Take a big breath my friend. It's a stressful part of the year. Exams always make every problem you have seem 100 per cent worse. Those are finishing up and soon you'll be home and with your family and hometown friends, and you'll see it's not the end of your whole world.

Mark wise, all I can say is that if you don't like the grades you have, you can work harder next year. If you can't work harder, make sure you work smarter. First-year marks are important, but it's nothing you can't make up during the next three to four years at UBC. If you don't get accepted into your intended major, calm down, work hard and reapply. If your average isn't stellar, make up for it next year and the year after that.

As for the social aspects, it's also okay. First year, especially if you lived in traditional dorms, means you're living in a small community that forces you to socialize within it. Eating dinner with your floor, rez formals, house sport teams, musicals, committees — you get all of that in a square mile with traditional dorms.

But if you live off-campus or in upper-year housing next term, you'll be forced to explore more. Joining clubs or sports teams, on or off-campus, means you'll meet new people. You'll meet friends of friends who you'll click with more than you would have thought. You'll go to pubs, socials and house parties, and you'll get to know so many more people than you thought. Find a group or club that interests you and just go for it. Your social life is yours to grow.

Don't worry about sticking with your first-year friends if you don't like them, but see if that friendship can go beyond living on the same floor.

Don't think of first year as a year that was shit — think of it as your training-wheels year. You know the campus now, you know how classes work and you know how to balance your work. You have confidence now. Next year isn't a continuation — it's a new you and a new year. Don't worry about it, get ready to rock it.

“Natalie, what do I do if I fail a class? Specifically MATH 105.”

Hold your horses until your grades are out. It doesn't matter if you failed every midterm. It doesn't matter if you think you wrote the wrong answer to every answer on that final. Wait until your final mark on the SSC tells you if you failed. I hear scaling is pretty common in math classes and can save a lot of people, maybe even you.

If you did fail the class, take a moment and remember this is not a reflection on who you are and grades don't mark what kind of person you are. Then decide if you're going to retake the class. If it's a mandatory class for your degree or major, you'll have to, but that's not the end of the world.

MATH 105 runs during the summer term and while summer classes tend to run through material faster than during the school term, taking it again after you just took it might keep the material fresh in your mind and would keep you on a four-year path to graduation. It will be running again for winter 2017, so it's not like this was your first and only chance of passing it.

If you don't need to pass it and you don't want to take it again — UBC won't replace a failing grade with a passing one if you retake the class — that's okay too. You won't be kicked out of UBC for one failing mark and one failing mark doesn't mean you're not a good student.

Classes are hard, university is hard. Sometimes you can't pass everything and that's okay. Learn from this.

Best of luck and may the scale be forever in your favour.