During my first semester in college, I was enrolled in a first-year English class. In high school I was usually able to pull off an A on my honors English papers without much work, and I thought I was a pretty good writer. So when I turned in my first college essay, I was expecting to get an A, or at worst a B.
However, I was about to get a rude awakening. When we received our papers back a week later, I was shocked to see a C+ on my paper. I went to the instructor, and she said I just needed more practice and not to worry because I was in the class to learn. However, since I have high expectations for myself, those words weren’t very comforting.
About that same time in my Strategies for College Success class, we were assigned to read a chapter in On Course about personal responsibility. The main idea is to adopt a “Creator” approach to problems, which I understood to mean basically seek solutions and not dwell on the negative.
Then it clicked for me; I am responsible for my grades and I need to do whatever is necessary to get the ones I want. In high school, I could write one draft of an essay, turn it in, and I’d usually get an A, but that approach wasn’t working in college. So, now I had to do something different.
I started writing my papers before they were due and then meeting with my English teacher at least once a week to get her suggestions. Because I was a full-time student and also worked seventeen to twenty hours a week in the cashier’s office, sometimes I had to see her during times that were inconvenient. But I had to be flexible if I wanted her critique.
During English class, we’d do peer editing, and I found that helpful, too. When I was in high school, I only spent about an hour or two writing an essay. Now I was spending at least three to five hours.To my surprise, after some not-so-great increases in grades, I received what I had been waiting for: my first A on an essay.
Although my final grade in English was a B, I learned a number of important lessons. It’s really important to take your time with writing, to have your instructor or someone else read a rough draft and give you some suggestions, and then to write a final draft. I also learned that nobody can make the grade for you; you have to be responsible for yourself.