The upside of failing: Advice from a super-senior

By Robin Gracia Managing Editor

I have been in college, off and on, for about seven years. I started my academic career at Bakersfield College fresh out of high school. I thought it would take two years, in which I would take all the correct classes and pass with flying colors. I was a moron for expecting college to be as lenient as high school.

Professors could not care less if you don’t show up. Many classes offer no extra credit assignments, and would rather you not cry in their office at the end of the quarter when you have earned your ‘F’. If you fail, you fail, and fail I did. I was too busy having a good time with my friends and ditching class to worry about all the failing grades piling up, but they came back to bite me when Bakersfield College kicked me out of school. It’s called academic disqualification, and it forces you to take a semester off because of a poor GPA and record.

Getting kicked out of community college feels like getting body slammed by Macho Man Randy Savage. It is painful and humiliating. However, I did not stay splayed on the ground in self-pity. I picked myself up and marched forward. I chose to take my failure and turn it into inspiration.

The stuff I had to endure while earning my AA reads like a bad Christmas song: 7 years-a-slavin’, 6 months of academic disqualification, 5 parking citations, 4 crappy jobs, 3 times failing pre-calculus, 2 times failing Spanish, 1 academic renewal – all of which resulted in a damn associate’s degree.

My associate’s is my badge of honor, because I had to dig myself out of a hole to achieve it. I carry the memories of my failures with me, not in shame, but with pride. Being a failure is the best thing that ever happened to me. Failing allowed me to see where I did not want to be. Failing can be a great catalyst. It served as a push to do well as a CSUB student, and to prove to myself that I can conquer anything.

I will be graduating in several weeks with honors, having garnered several scholarships, memberships with honor societies and awards.

As a senior who is signing off, I beg you, take a lesson from my life. Here are, arguably, the best pieces of advice I can dispense to others.

1. You are not too good to work at a bad job. Money is money.

2. Take responsibility when you screw up. No one, from your boss to your professor, wants to hear excuses.

3. Get out of the habit of half-assing. Mediocrity gets old very quickly.

4. Surround yourself by people with goals. People with goals tend to build each other up.

5. Never stop bettering yourself. Also, kick anyone out of your life that tries to stop you from reaching your goals.

6. You are entitled to absolutely nothing. Most everything you really want in life is earned, not given to you. Learn this quickly, or life will be very hard.

Take it from the ghost of college present – fall down, but ever stay there. I am off to graduate now, and wish you all the best of luck. I will greatly miss writing for The Runner, and I will fondly remember the friends I have made.

It’s been real. Deuces.