January 6, 2018, by Shweta

Handling Academic Setbacks

With exam season just around the corner, I recently felt an unfamiliar wave of anxiety coming my way. Some introspection revealed that my panic was most probably a reaction to the academic setbacks I faced last year. From growing up in a culture that heavily focused on top grades to never having faced academic failure before, having to re-sit an exam last year took its toll on me.

Out of the many assignments and exams that you will take in your time at university, you might have your odd “bad” grade and you may even fail. For many, this will be a real blow to their self-esteem. However, I found from my personal experience that at this point, there are 2 choices; to give up or to get back up.

Here are some of my tips for managing academic setbacks at university.

  1. Forgive yourself. Never, ever walk around expecting bad things to always happen to you. But always remember that sometimes life throws in our way something that we didn’t plan for. Graciously accept your failure and forgive yourself for it.
  2. Stay positive and persevere. Make sure you maintain your perspective and remember that one failure does not reflect who you are or what you’re capable of. Instead of hiding behind your failures, keep going and don’t give up. Victory tastes just as sweet, even on your second (or third) attempt.
  3. Cultivate a successful identity. As I mentioned before, it is wholly human to let your failures/successes mirror your identity. However, if you continuously identify as a failure, then it becomes part of your nature, thus making success a contradiction. Practice some self-compassion and think of yourself as a person with a temporary problem. This problem is an opportunity and how you respond to it will determine your success or failure.
  4. Be introspective and come up with a plan. Think about where you went wrong and how you can develop your habits to exclude those factors contributing to your failure. Be it spending lesser time on social media, or changing your revision methods, identify key problems and come up with a game plan.

At the end of the day, there is not a single person who has never experienced failure. With exams coming up, I sincerely hope that you all achieve exactly what you set your heart out to achieve. If, however, this isn’t the case, do not worry. You deserve to be here; you just have to convince yourself of it.

Good luck and until next time,

Shweta Madhu

Posted in Shweta