This blog post is a little different as I tell you a story about the crappiest months of my university degree and the biggest lesson I learned during this time. Read on so you can avoid my mistake and succeed at university.
In this blog post you'll discover...
- How I let my ego get in the way of being a 'true student'
- The realisation I made about learning and getting the most out of your hard-earned, costly education
- The simple system I used to dramatically increase my grades.
If you don't want to make my mistake, download my feedback guide and tracker to make sure you're always improving. Grab it by signing up to my free resource library where you’ll also get access to TONS of other printables and worksheets to help you become a happier, more confident and more successful student.
In 2015 I was completing my last module for my Business degree. It’s rumoured to be the most difficult module in the course but I didn’t let that faze me. I submitted my first essay which I was quietly confident with, and sat back and waited for the results.
When I got the email to say my result was ready to be collected I eagerly logged onto the university website. But, when I saw the mark I instantly deflated.
I had been steadily achieving very high marks for all my essays for the last 2 years. But this was a lot lower, and I didn’t know why.
I read the feedback from my tutor and instantly got angry. Some of his comments were a bit sarcastic and seemed unfair to me, but I was so upset I didn’t read it in full. My boyfriend had to listen to me rant and suggested I call my tutor if I wasn’t happy. But I chose not to because I knew I would just cry from upset and anger.
So I reluctantly started writing my second essay. I put in more hours than the first but a few weeks later this mark came back and it was worse! A month later I submitted my third essay and this came back with a similar mark. I couldn't believe it.
For a week I just couldn’t focus. I didn’t want to pick up my books again and I couldn’t concentrate at work. This was my last module of the degree and at this point I’d already started dreaming about a career helping others to get high grades. What use would I be if I couldn’t even get the top grade on my essays?
So I decided to write my thoughts down as it helps me understand and deal with my feelings. I opened the notes app on my phone and blurted out all my thoughts. Below are the actual words I wrote.
“Why have my scores not been high for this module? It’s my last module and I need to do well. Maybe I’m not as good as I think. I should know what I'm doing by now. I know how to improve my work and listen to feedback...
…but I haven't done that!
I have a system that I've stopped following, and it's only just registered that I've done this. I normally track my feedback but I’ve been so upset I haven’t bothered. There’s probably loads of mistakes I’ve been making again and again and not even noticed!”
It’s amazing what a good brain download can make you realise!
I’ve mentioned my system for tracking feedback and improving my grades a few times. As I wrote this note I realised that I hadn’t used it AT ALL in this module!
Why did I stop using my system?
I let my ego get in the way. My emotions were running high and I took the offensive (in my head) rather than looking at my feedback for what it is - a chance to learn and improve.
I was reading my tutor’s feedback with red-tinted glasses. I was so angry I didn’t take any of the suggestions in.
Rather than thinking rationally, I chose to believe my tutor just didn’t like me or that he was one of those tutors who never handed out the high grades. I blamed him. I blamed the essay guidance. And I blamed the university.
I blamed everyone else when I should have been looking inward instead.
Now of course there’s times when your tutor may be wrong, or the guidance is ambiguous. In these times it’s important to speak up so things can be fixed for you and for future students.
But I’m a firm believer that we have ourselves to thank for most of our successes, and ourselves to blame for most of our failures. Once you take on this responsibility and realise you have a lot of control over your studies and university success, your mind is in the right place to start thinking up solutions.
So I realised I needed to tell my ego to shut up if I wanted to succeed at university. I needed to shed this egotistical mindset and develop a more modest one instead.
So I put on my big girl pants and started using my system.
I took my three marked essays and their feedback and I recorded all the positive and negative comments. Some of it was difficult to accept but I pushed through. I ended up with three action plans to improve my next grades. While I wrote my fourth essay I used the plans to make sure I didn’t repeat my mistakes. I also took time to work on the areas I’d flagged for improvement.
A month later I received my result and it had shot up by 10 marks.
I continued to use my feedback system for my remaining essays and I completed the module on a high, having secured First Class Honours for my degree.
Those horrible few months turned into a big lesson.
Negative feedback can make us bitter or better - Robin Sharma
At university you must be willing to unlearn some bad habits and question your approach and way of thinking.
You may need to tell your ego to shut up sometimes so you can grab all the opportunities to better yourself and succeed at university.
RECAP! You should now know...
- Try to remove the emotion from your feedback so you take it in
- Develop a learning, modest mindset if you want to succeed at university
- For more mindset development - check out my post on growth mindset,
If you want to steal my simple feedback system, download my mini guide and tracker template below.