You know what I find remarkable? How a word can take on multiple meanings; how it can evoke a variety of emotions depending on your experience with it, how it is said, who says it, or where it appears. Let’s use the title of this blog entry for example: scratch.
We know this word to be defined as an action often used to relieve itching, or it may be a slight laceration or irritation on your skin. But on May 31st in my Computers and Applications course, it was introduced to me as a program created by the MIT Media Lab. “Weird, but interesting,” I thought to myself as the professor pulled up still images that provided the class with background information as to what Scratch is/does.
As I sat in that initial lecture two weeks after graduation, all I could think about was the conclusion of the course. Scratch meant nothing to me, the components that make up hardware and software for a computer was kind of cool, but in the grand scheme of things those meant nothing to me either. I was just like any other student who took the course for whatever reason(s), the common one being “it fulfills the SAS core requirement.” Little did I know that Scratch would become an enormous obstacle during my sweet little summer ’16.
I fell behind on the assignments once I started working third shift at my new job and have yet to recover. With less than three weeks left to complete the course, scrapping for a passing grade, it became clear that it was highly unrealistic.
At first, my morale was extremely low. I felt like a failure and no “F” was even in sight. It was the fact that this wasn’t supposed to be how my precious post-grad summer panned out. The whole purpose of me working third shift was to not have my place of employment hinder me from attending my summer classes, yet my fatigue and disrupted sleep cycle persisted anyway. Not to mention, knowing I was enrolled in a class that touched upon areas of weaknesses made me feel insignificant and so small.
Today I emailed my professor my concerns in a well-versed manner that explained my situations. I did not want him to think that I was taking his class lightly and expected him to bend over backwards for a student with different circumstances than some of her classmates. I did not want him to think that I was blaming him, because in all honesty, issues like these can’t be blamed on anyone; it’s just life. He had told me a few days ago that people who were only taking this course and worked minimally or not at all perform better than those taking more than one summer class while working part-time or full-time. Of course, I found myself identifying with both categories.
I believe I am intelligent. But struggling with a class when I am 9 credits and a month and some change away from officially completing my undergraduate degree requirements took a toll on me. I began to reflect on my career at Rutgers and was painfully reminded of how all I did was work, and I watched my GPA suffered as a result. Vicious cycle isn’t it? You work to pay for an education that gets effected by how often you work. Fortunately, once I wrapped my head around the situation, I was put at ease.
Realistically, every student has specific strengths and weaknesses. There are some students that coast through college because they don’t have to dedicate time to their job(s), there are some that pay people to do their work for them, or there are the those students whose level of attaining information and performing excellently surfaces into any subject. For whatever reasons someone graduates with honors or barely gets by, what remains consistent is the fact that a GPA is just a number; one that doesn’t define you.
After I sent my professor the email, I registered for another math course for the fall. Being that it is isn’t the same one I am enrolled in now, it does not override or expunge the “F” I’ll receive for it. It doesn’t refund me the $1,083 I’m indebted for it, but it makes me feel happy knowing I did what’s best for me. My graduation date was simply changed from October 2016 to January 2017; fair enough.
My journey was created specifically for me. All of the highs, the lows, the detours and disappointments were signed, sealed and delivered with my name on them. When I began my summer class I had no intention of failing. I had no idea I would end up submitting to a hectic schedule, a rigorous curriculum and any other factor that was implemented to prohibit me from receiving my diploma. Retrospectively, a lot of what has happened to me over the course of these 23 years (good or bad) weren’t predicted, but that is what makes me resilient.
An “F” does not determine ones future, no matter what factored into the way it was received. And I am not ashamed to say that there’s one on my transcript. In all honesty, the avenues that I’m headed down do not care about my GPA or the inconsistent A’s and B’s that totaled it.
I made a judgment call. In three days I start another summer class followed by my final one in five days. There was no way I would be able to pass a course I was faltering in while staying on par with two other courses that meet 4x and 3x a week, all the while working overnight. I was not going to stress myself out over it.
I cannot undo my past. I cannot travel back in time and move the mountains placed in front of me, or move the mountains I placed in front of myself. What I can do, is acknowledge that life is a constant struggle and find ways to alleviate the struggle while making the most of it. And sometimes, surprisingly, the best way to do so is to start from scratch.