Failing: Not as Cool as It Used to Be

The weather changed today. More than temporal, it was a grotesque change. It’s cold now. Everything is cold. In response, I’m listening to depressing music and protesting the pile of dishes in the kitchen, taking pity to their grime.

Yes. This is a “I got a bad grade” and I’m going to whine blog. I suggest you leave now.

My economics professor handed back the class’ mid-terms today. When I took the test, I left with an “Uh-oh” queazy feeling; from the moment I first set my eyes on the paper I knew I was a goner. You win some, you lose some, I guess. But I expected some grace. After all, the only different between grace and grade is a “D.” Partial credit can save a semester, man.

I suppose economists don’t believe in partial credit.


My favorite person, so far, on campus at my new school is a chinaman named William. He chose the name “William” when he came to America. I can’t pronounce his real name. He didn’t tell me to stop trying; I just don’t care for the sick look of anguish on his face when I attempt the pronunciation. He also says “Bitchin'” quite a bit which endears him to me.

William is a smart kid. I don’t want to tote the line on stereotypes; I’m sure he’d be smart whether he was a chinaman or not. But he’s bitchin’ smart. In homework, I first refer to him for answers instead of checking the back of the book.

We sit next to each other in Econ. He received his mid-term and nearly jumped out of his skin. “One hundred percent!” He high-fived me and the kid behind him. “What did you get?” I looked down at my paper which was folded and hidden from his view.

Twenty-six percent. “Not a hundred,” I replied. He smiled and nodded. He’s so damn smart, he probably ran the odds ahead of time and guessed it. I felt like a buzz-kill, so instead of focusing on myself I smiled and said “Congrats!”

Picking Up Where I…

This sounds oddly trite, but I’ve never had an F before, not in college, at least. Straight As are what got me in to Rochester! What can I do? Pick myself up and move forward, I guess.

My gut tells me I need to take full-responsibility for the grade. It’s too tempting to compare myself to people like William and say, “It’s not fair.” But it is fair. I’ve received more than a fair share of advantages. Today I feel like shit, but tomorrow I’ll pick myself up.

Here’s what I can do: 

Drop the class and try again… Remove the class from my major and declare a Pass/Fail option… Forget GPA and squeak by with a passing grade… Dress sexy and try to seduce my professor…

Any suggestions?

In high-school I failed my courses quite often. It was “cool” then. You know, to not care? Failing is, definitely, not as cool as it used to be.

Anyway, thanks for staying with me. I know I told you to leave earlier, but I was just a little down and, truth be told, a little hangry.

I’m going to make some food now. Leave me alone. I love you.



  1. This is great news Kev……you are NOT invincible nor perfect. Dust off, catch a shave, do those dishes and get back on that horse bud! I’d be leary if you were a good loser (metephorically speaking of course) so save that 26% & as you excel you’ll be a much more gracious victor in the things that really matter. P.S. – Hope you didn’t think your Pismo hoodie would work there!!

  2. Kevin,
    I feel your pain. Been there done that. Same stupid class as a matter of fact. Economics as a science doesn’t seen correct to me. Predicting how human beings are going to spend or save their money at best seems little more than an educated guess.

    My suggestion, see if William has needs you can help with him. A class he is maybe struggling with; would he like to learn how to play guitar, you can have him over dinner once a week, anything you can barter with…and get him to tutor you. Find out how he gets 100% and emulate his behavior as best you can.

    Good luck, Mary
    It really is never just one thing, but it’s always something.

    1. Those are great ideas, Mary. William and I study one day a week already. He’s a fiend of a friend. Most likely, I need to better my study habits throughout the week.

      Thanks for the comment. I hope you are doing well? Is it getting cold in Coeur d’Alene yet?

  3. There is only one option when you fall and that is yo get up , shake the dusk and start all over again . Life is great but not as easy for all of us. We need to just focus in meetings put goals even if we find some obstacles along the way.

  4. How is the class graded? Is it midterm & final only? I think knowing the grading policy first is the best step to know whether you should drop it. Also, is it early enough in the semester to simply “withdraw” from the class (we do it with a W on the transcript, which is better than an F, but still might look bad if you’re trying to transfer). I would find out if you’ve already passed the drop date, and what the penalty would be to drop now. I would meet with the professor and see what they think your options are. Does your college offer tutoring? Could your buddy William tutor you? Do you have any documented disabilities that could possibly get you any accomodations for test taking or studying? (might include ADHD, learning disability, migraines, anxiety, etc. etc. etc). Usually there is a disability resource center or something on campus, as well as other services like tutoring, etc. Is the final cummulative or just from midterm info on? What does the instructor think as far as other people historically who’ve gotten an F on the midterm as far as the likelihood of passing? Do you reeeeaaalllly need Econ for your future goals?

    Sorry I didn’t actually…um…answer any questions 🙂

    1. Well, you didn’t answer any questions but you did present some good ones. 🙂 As far as the grading goes, there are only three tests: Two mid-terms and a final. The homework isn’t graded (Totally sucks). At this point, I’m kissing goodbye the thought of an A and am at least confident I will pass.

      I don’t really need Econ to accomplish anything, but it is a core requirement of my degree. It’s silly because at my school you can create your own degrees, which is what I did. I liked Econ in the past and thought it would be fine. I guess it’s just quite a bit harder here.

      Thanks for the comment and suggestions!

  5. My first test in graduate school was in “Systematic Theology.” It was rigorous, but the exam was filled with essay questions and, as a reasonably gifted writer, I usually score well in those.

    I got my exam back and across the top was a large red “0”. Yes, I scored a 0. I went to the professor to ask for an explanation. His response? “You obviously didn’t understand the material and were trying to mask this with good writing.”

    I resisted the urge to say, “That’s what you do on essay tests, man!”

    Instead, I asked for a tutor, buckled down hard and squeezed a respectable C- out of the class.

    To this day, I despise systematic theology, but I’m a better man for having been through it.

    Hang in there, brother. I’m praying for you.

    1. A zero! Oh geez. I know exactly what you mean. My bad essay answers have long been masked with good writing.

      I’m not even sure I know what systematic theology is. Do I want to know?

      1. Systematic theology was originally an invention of the church to give bad pastors teaching jobs. It has since been co-opted by academia as a method to make the Bible more confusing and thus impossible to follow.

  6. Go see your professor. Find out what it is that you don’t understand. Ask for help. That’s what they are there for. Believe me.

  7. I had to drop econ at Cal Poly after failing the first mid-term. It was infuriating, but I earned a B+ in the class the second time around. I think it helps going in a second time knowing what to expect.

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