Back in high school, all I cared about was boosting my GPA. I never thought I could learn so much from failing.
I didn’t come to Swarthmore to continue doing the things I excelled at – then college would just be an expensive summer camp. Pass/Fail meant that I could spend time on myself, I could take that seminar on Philosophy, a topic I thought I’d never study. I could spend my time with new friends, maybe get into a relationship, exercise to maintain my health, all without these dreaded grades pressuring me, right? Most people I know failed at certain subjects in school (maybe not getting F’s, but by struggling) and now have simply decided “I’m not a ____ person” or “I just don’t get _____” e.g. “I’m not a Math person.” That absolves them from trying, which keeps them from failing, which keeps them from learning.
At a place like Swarthmore, too many people are killing themselves working to get that perfect GPA. Make sure you get a B, and do it early. Once you do you’ll stop worrying about having to get a perfect GPA because it’s no longer attainable. Only then will you be free to actually get an education. College is the time to take risky courses in topics you don’t understand, in topics you aren’t sure you like, and in topics that appear beyond your grasp.
Successful students have been taught to rely on talent, which makes them unable to fail gracefully.
But I challenge you to go out there – challenge yourself and fail.
Fail to make your time worth it.