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How to bounce back after a study let down

By Emma 10 Apr 2019
Stressed student sitting at a table with her laptop.

Whenever we experience a setback in life, whether it be a relationship ending, forgetting your lunch, getting turned down for a job or ruining a brand new pair of pants, getting your first fail at uni can feel like the end of the world.

Whether you find yourself in this situation because you underestimated how much work you needed to do for that last assignment, or just ran out of time, I promise it is going to be OK. I know how upsetting receiving your first fail can be and it might seem like the worst thing that has happened in your uni career, but as Mickey Rooney once said, ‘You always pass failure on your way to success’.

If you have just received a fail at uni, here are nine important things to remember that will help you bounce back:

1. Don’t be too hard on yourself!

In the grand scheme of things, getting a fail doesn’t mean you fail at life.

2. It’s OK to feel sorry for yourself for a while.

Eat all the ice cream, chocolate or other comfort food you want (no judgement)! But if you don’t want to add to your food guilt, find delicious #studysnack ideas on our Pinterest Board!

3. If you’re feeling embarrassed about your study letdown, you don’t have to tell your classmates, friends or family if you don’t want to.

There won’t be a tell-tale mark on your forehead or anything. But that being said, everyone who cared about you before will still care about you now, and it might make you feel better to talk to someone about it.

Picture quote reading 'Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts - Winston Churchill'.

4. Getting a bad grade doesn’t define you.

Even if you are used to getting good grades and are known for it, one bad grade does not make you a bad student and is not a reflection on you as a person.

5. It isn’t healthy to bottle up negative emotions, so try not to dwell on negative feelings associated with failure for too long.

Instead, put all your emotional energy towards thinking about how you can move forward. It can be a good idea to talk to someone you trust about how you’re feeling, even if it’s just to vent.

Picture quote reading 'Doubt ends more dreams than failure ever will'.

6. This is only a temporary setback.

One fail grade doesn’t necessarily mean you will fail the subject overall. If you do fail a subject, many courses can be taken over summer semester, so you can still graduate with your peers. Do some research and talk to your faculty about your options.

7. Use this as a learning experience to reflect on what went wrong and whether there is anything you can take away from it.

Talk to your lecturer and ask for feedback and advice for how you can improve. You will still have an opportunity to work just that little bit harder next time to bring your overall grade up or, if you have to take the class again, you’ll have the opportunity to ace it the second time around!

Picture quote reading 'The struggle of the process is only temporary, but the feeling of achievement lasts forever'.

8. Failing at something once in a while can teach you lots of important life skills.

'Yeah right', I can hear you sighing. But it's true! Experiencing failure can teach you the courage to keep trying, the perseverance to push through massive workloads and the ability to hold your head high and keep reaching for your goals.

9. Every step you take is a step closer to your success.

Even the difficult ones. Imagine how boring life would be if you didn’t have any challenges to overcome!

Picture quote reading 'If you can find a path with no obstacles it probably doesn't lead anywhere'.

The most important thing to do after receiving a fail at uni is to take a deep breath, pick yourself up and get back on that study horse (is that enough clichés?)! As Charlotte Whitton said, ‘It’s how you deal with failure that determines how you achieve success.’

At USQ, we want you to succeed, so if you are finding it difficult to bounce back after a fail at uni and need someone to talk to that you can trust, USQ provides free, confidential counselling to students. You can also check out Cathy’s blog on upgrading mental resilience to help you bounce back quicker in future.

Author profile image of Emma