Opinion: What I learned from getting a C in chemistry


Annalisse Galaviz

Annalisse Galaviz, Features Editor

My high school career has been characterized by a drive to succeed. I took the highest level classes available to me each year, starting freshman year with Honors biology and ending this senior year with all IB classes and one AP class. I didn’t want to fail, and my grades proved it: mostly As, the occasional B. But a C was unimaginable.

My sophomore year I enrolled in honors chemistry. I assumed it would be easy–after all I had gotten an A in honors biology the year before, and in all my other honors classes.

To my horror, I struggled with chemistry. I even received a dreaded C my first semester.

There were a lot of people struggling in honors chemistry. Like any student, it would be easy to blame the teacher, so I did.

But my criticism wasn’t correcting the root of the problem: I needed to work harder individually.

Second semester of chemistry was significantly harder. I spent every break during school doing practice problems in the chemistry classroom. I asked the teacher for help with especially hard problems and, to my amazement, I found that she was very helpful when I gave her a chance. It was my bad attitude that had disregarded her as the cause of my failure.

I received an A in chemistry my second semester. In this way, I succeeded. My hard work finally paid off and it felt good, at least until another challenge came along.

On paper I became a better candidate for college, my GPA increased, and I made progress toward my high school goal of graduating at the top of my class. If you define success by academic achievement, I succeeded.

I achieved my goal, but not without hard work and many hours of stressful studying. I missed out on opportunities to go out with my friends and often found myself unhappy while studying alone in my dark room, even though I knew I was working toward a larger goal. That completion of my goal would make me much happier than temporary relief found going out with my friends–at least that’s what I told myself.

But if you define happiness as success, then I didn’t succeed. In some regards, like happiness, earning a C in chemistry taught me nothing about success. Sure I got the better grade but was this the success I was looking for, but did I miss out on true success: happiness?

As we approach registration, make sure you’re signing up for classes you are ready for. Know what you’re ready for. Take into account your happiness and whether you’re willing to sacrifice that for a grade–especially if getting the good grade would look better to colleges than to you.

Most importantly, discover where true success lies for you, then take the classes that’ll get you there.