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I Almost Failed A Class: Let’s Talk About It

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

During this past winter quarter, I almost failed one of the classes I had been taking. Without the extra credit I did, it would have been a really, really close call. And this was such a huge struggle for me, especially after dealing with imposter syndrome during my time at UCLA. 

This class was honestly just so hard for me. I felt like no matter how I studied (and I tried so many methods), I just couldn’t get the grasp of this material. And this was beyond defeating. I have always felt like being smart and capable when it comes to school was such an important quality and something that I admired about myself, and I really felt that being threatened by my performance in this class. 

I didn’t do great on the midterm, so I knew that going into the final I needed to do well in order to actually pass this class. I felt like I studied so hard for this final, especially because I knew that I was in the danger zone. And despite my midterm grade, I still felt confident in my ability to study hard and do well on a final; so, I spent basically the entire week before the final studying for the exam, completely ignoring studying for my other finals (which would end up causing more problems later).  

Leading up to the test, I was so unbelievably nervous. I don’t think that I’ve ever been more scared to take a test in my life. I felt like I had studied my butt off, and I was just ready for the entire ordeal to be over. But I was also feeling decently confident in the material because I had studied so hard. 

Unfortunately, the second I opened that exam, all of my confidence went out the door. I immediately felt like all of my studying was a waste. There was even a problem that I just left completely blank, even after staring at it for 20 plus minutes. I just had no idea where to even start.

Again, this was beyond discouraging. I walked out of that test and ran to the bathroom and just cried in the stall, I was so upset. I already knew that I hadn’t gotten the score I had wanted, and I knew that I would definitely be cutting it close to passing. 

After having a good cry in the bathroom, calling my mom, and getting an acai bowl on my walk home, I started to feel a little bit better. My mom and my roommates reminded me that I had done all that I could, and that I should still be proud of the effort that I had put into studying for this test. And although I knew this was true, I was still so stressed about getting my score back. I was beyond terrified that I wouldn’t pass, and that I would have to take this course, which had already taken so much out of me, again. 

But thankfully, I didn’t have to live in fear for too long, because my professor was able to grade exams and get final scores in pretty quickly. And when I got my final score back, I was devastated, but also not, because I felt like I had already gone through the feeling right after I finished the final – I had just already known it was rough. But with the extra credit, I ended up just barely passing the course. And I was so beyond relieved, I couldn’t even begin to convey how happy I was. 

But then the reality of the situation again kicked in, and I realized how excited I was about getting a C. Like I said before, I’ve always done well in school, and to see myself thinking this just made me realize how much my performance as a student has changed. And that was really, really difficult. I felt incapable in school for the first time ever, and it felt so embarrassing.    

But after some time away from the situation, I’ve been able to reflect further, hence me writing this article. And although a small part of me still feels the same way as before, I’ve realized that one incident does not shape who I am as a student; the whole picture does. My academic performance at UCLA is something that I am overall proud of, and a slight stain on that image is something that, I’ve learned, is just going to come with the territory. 

My dad has always quoted this saying, “it’s not how many times you fall, it’s how many times you get up.” And growing up, I always thought it was the cheesiest thing ever. But after this pretty major fall for me, I found myself thinking about this saying and how I wanted to react in the face of this academic speed bump. The most important reflection I had was that I don’t want this to change my attitude as a student; I don’t want to go into this quarter with the “I can’t do it” mindset. Because then it would come true, and I would just feel even worse. 

So, I am getting back up. I’m leaving the past in the past, and focusing on what’s ahead of me (and spoiler alert, it’s so much more than just grades). I’m excited to do well in school again this quarter, because I know that I can. And I’m happy to have learned a lesson and to have proved to myself that mistakes do not define me; it is how I react to them that does.

Maia Hull

UCLA '26

Maia is a second year microbiology and immunology major and mathematics minor from San Diego, CA. She loves to read and write, snowboard, go swimming, and hang out with friends, as well as the occasional shopping spree.