Jumbo Steps: The GPA List

2/7/16 – Medford/Somerville, MA – CAPTION poses for a headshot on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. (Evan Sayles / The Tufts Daily)

Standing alone, 52 is but a freckle of quantitative information. But slap a unit after it, and all hell may break loose — especially if it’s a percentage sign.

This, friends, was my grade on the infamous BIO13’s first test.

In hindsight, my study plan can be chalked up as a method whose guaranteed result is an F; I allocated a mere two days before test day to begin studying.

So, yeah. I failed.

No, it wasn’t Dr. Koegel’s fault. She’s a fantastic lecturer who conveys the material in an understandable manner. It wasn’t the test itself; It was an accurate representation of what was taught. And no, it wasn’t even my lack of dedication. I’d attended every class, printed lecture slides to re-annotate my notes by hand and read the textbook.

It was (cue face-palm) my own ego.

Rewind to high school, where I took biology classes freshman, junior and senior years. Having established such a familiarity with the subject, I thought I’d do just fine on the test. After all, my AP Biology score was high enough to get me placed out of BIO13 in the first place. Hence, with my fat nose in the air, I declared that 48 hours of crunch time was just crunchy enough.

Fast-forward again. I finished the test thinking I’d handed over the long-lost twin of the answer key. But the gradebook on SIS revealed a different story.

A great portion of my past academic career, and an even greater one of my future, has been tailored toward learning biology. But, if my grade served as any indication of whether to persist in such a field, I’d better start reconsidering my future plans.

After receiving advice from my parents and roommate, it struck me: I remembered why I love biology in the first place — it’s my thing, and no grade can take that away.

I ended up with a B- in the class, a relatively decent grade.

But it rendered my GPA too low for the Dean’s List.

Regardless, I’m glad I failed the test; failure pried my eyes open to see this was just freshman year, part deux. I started high school as a freshie (duh) and ended as a 12-grader on the top of the GPA ladder. But BIO13 showed me that my place on the top rung as a 12-grader never guaranteed a 12-grader-plus-three-months the same spot.

While I didn’t make the list, I accomplished a monumental academic accolade. What was my merit badge? Knowing it was due time to deflate my big head and realizing I could transform a failure into an opportunity to do better in the course.

I’m super proud of my friends who made the Dean’s List, but I refused to beat myself up because I didn’t.

And if I don’t make the cut this semester, that’s fine because it may mean something better is in store. If 52 is rather insignificant without its precious unit backing it, can ≥3.4 be that different?