Dealing with Academic Disappointment

Within my first month, I have learned that college is not like high school; tests are harder, there is much more homework, and the stress can be overwhelming.

I had my first test recently, a math test, and felt decently prepared going in. I had studied the material the day before, as I had in high school, and thought I knew what I was getting myself into.

That was not the case. The test was harder than I had anticipated, and I did not get the results I had hoped for.

I was, overall, very confused and disappointed.

But, from this experience, I have learned how to deal with it. Here are some steps to take when faced with disappointment

1. Try to limit complaints.

I probably bothered my roommate and friends to their wits end complaining about how I should’ve studied more, I should’ve done better. Yet I was complaining about the past, and you can’t change the past, so my complaining was nothing but bothersome. My roommate and friends tried to be supportive, but I could sense they were getting somewhat annoyed. Your initial response will be to complain, but try to limit the amount or to whom you express those complaints.

2. Breathe; there will always be a chance for redemption.

It was one test! My first test! I learned to realize that there is time to fix my   mistakes, to study harder for the next test and learn the study habits that help me prepare best.

3. Don’t take any actions you’ll regret.

I did not do this myself, but one of my friends emailed her advisor, set on dropping the class because the bad grade intimidated her. The next day she regretted it immediately, and hoped her advisor hadn’t seen it or dropped the class for her (thankfully he had not). Think rationally!

4. Take your mind off the subject.

After learning such news, it may be hard to do schoolwork or motivate yourself. But, spending time with friends and taking your mind off of academia is super helpful; after a dinner in BD with friends who consoled me, I realized that there are more important things than a test grade.

5. Realize this is UNIVERSAL!

You are NOT the only one! Bad grades are inevitable, even to the “smartest”, “best studiers”. There are others in the same boat, and you can’t think that you are the only one who did badly.

6. Research and USE available resources!

I did not use my RPM, the calc help room, or office hours; if I did not know a concept, I simply accepted that I would never learn it. That is not the strategy to take! The resources are there to help you.


Dealing with failure and disappointment is challenging, but if you follow these steps hopefully the process will be easier.


By Jess Greene