3 Reasons You Should Fail In College and How To Recover

What is he telling me to do now? FAIL?! In COLLEGE?! That’s right, you should fail, or what I mean to say is you should “fail” by your standards, at least once in your college career. If you’re anything like me, which I presume most of you are, it will do you some good and I want to share why you should fail and how to recover from it when you do.

A little background first: I came from a high school where I had the opportunity to be academically successful and was blessed with good grades. With what I thought were good study habits I went to college thinking it wouldn’t be that bad. Oh how wrong I was. My very first exam in college I got a C and I finished my first semester with only one final grade as an A. THAT was failing to me.

However, I managed to pick myself up and salvage my grades and GPA from that point on, but I’m happy I had that opportunity to fail because of these three reasons:

It Proves You’re Human

So you didn’t get the A you thought you would or your GPA wasn’t what you felt you deserved, good, you don’t have to be perfect in life because nobody expects you to be. Every semester I start out with a big head thinking, “I’ve got this, I’m a senior by now and I know the ins and outs of studying,” and every semester I have an exam or assignment where I “fail” and it knocks me back into reality and I realize I’m not perfect and need to work harder.

These moments are good because they show you’re still human. No matter how you did on a previous exam, or how you did in a previous year, you will still have to work hard to get that grade you believe you deserve. Although I’m sure you hate it just as much as I do when I play Monopoly, being knocked back to square one helps you realize that. But let’s face it, although you may lose that turn, it’s always sweeter the next time you get to roll and collect money from someone else, and the same goes for the next exam you ace.

It Sets A Baseline To Grow

Okay, so you just “failed” what’s next? Do you sit there and accept defeat like a child who got their lollipop stolen, or do you pick yourself up, dust yourself up, find that kid who took your lollipop, and take it back? (Please don’t use violence, it’s only an analogy but the point remains) As human beings we do not just sit there and accept defeat; we learn and grow from it.

My professor Don Stanley was just talking about the time his four year-old daughter taught him about succeeding in business. While she was riding her bike she kept looking back and every time she looked back she would zig and zag eventually falling down and hurting herself. It wasn’t until she got back on the bike and kept her eyes forward did she ride successfully toward her goal.

The same applies for college and life. You will fall down but you will also get back up, recognize what you did wrong, fix it, and keep pushing toward your goal. I’ve failed in the past and I know it won’t be my last time and without failing I never truly learned what it meant to succeed.

It Puts Things In Perspective

First I need to tell one of my favorite stories. It was my sophomore year in college and I’m at the gym and this guy asks me to spot him while he’s squatting. So I do the awkward squat-with-him-make-sure-he-doesn’t-fall thing and we start talking about school, naturally. He was a freshman and asked me for advice after failing his first calculus exam. I, not being very tactful, started laughing and said, “Don’t worry about it, it’s only calc.” I stopped laughing immediately after he told me he wanted to be an engineer. (Ohhhhhhhhh)

The point of my story is you may fail at something because it may not be what we’re meant to do. No matter how much I love to run I will never be an Olympic runner (mostly because I’m 5’6″ and enjoy laying around whenever I get the chance) and other people won’t be engineers because calculus is not their strong suit or artists because they can’t paint.

“Failure” doesn’t necessarily mean failing, it means you’re on a journey to find your niche. If that means weeding out what you aren’t good at to make a more concise list of what you are good at, I’d say you’re successfully on the bike looking in the right direction.

What’s your take on failure? If you have tips or stories you want to share, comment below!


One thought on “3 Reasons You Should Fail In College and How To Recover

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  1. Very fun post Brandon. And don’t underestimate the power and speed of someone who is 5’6″ 😉 Seriously, there are some great lessons in this post. Learning to reframe failure to feedback makes all the difference in the world. This little adjustment makes it incredibly easy to learn to experiment, explore and learn.


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