Image from Flickr.

Image from Flickr.

Maybe you were at the top of your class back in high school. Maybe you weren’t. Maybe you were involved in a multitude of activities during those four years and maybe you weren’t. Coming into college, you may have been surrounded by this proverbial bubble of uncertainty about your decisions up until now, about your place here, and about what that all meant for your future. During your time here, you have seen and have met people who come from all walks of life. You might have found it almost second nature to compare yourself to these other students, trying to pinpoint where you stand not only in the classroom, but outside of it as well. Having not done as well as your peers in a prerequisite course for your major, you might have questioned whether or not the career path you have chosen is still a realistic one.

The truth of the matter is that you are not alone. Without fail, every semester there would be at least one class in which I felt like a fish out of water. I have had days where I questioned why the admissions committee decided I was the right fit, as my progress in some of my courses would show otherwise. Students pursuing a college degree have at one point or another fallen into a similar situation. It is safe to say that though our motivating reasons may differ, all of us want to excel in our undergraduate careers. As such, it is so easy for us to get caught up in it all and fall through the cracks and into this dark pit, feeling unsupported, unappreciated, and devalued by the entire college community. This is especially true of universities that seem to live and breathe off of such a competitive atmosphere. What we fail to realize about our perceived inadequacy in college is that “perceived” is all that it is.

The admissions committee made no mistake. They saw in you the potential and capability to succeed and excel at this institution among your faculty and peers. The admissions committee do not expect you to be perfect. They know that you will struggle, but they also chose knowing that you will be able to adapt and grow accordingly. There will always be someone who is better than you at something and so I can assure you that you will be much happier with your undergraduate experience if you make an effort to divert your focus from comparison among your peers, and instead be concerned with your individual progress as a student of this university. Know that grades are important, but they should not be the only thing you concern yourself with. Immersing yourself in the college experience is challenging yourself in all aspects in order to grow as an individual, whether that means going to the campus career center to work on your networking abilities or joining a student organization with a shared purpose. As someone who has always set herself to a high standard of achievement, learning to accept myself as an individual beyond grades and what is put on paper has not been easy and even to this day, my mind is still in conflict with itself. I have to remind myself that grades can only take you so far and though they are important, if I want to excel as both an undergraduate and a human being, it is going to take more than going back and forth between home and classes.

Take a breather. Do not sell yourself short. We tend to be harsher on ourselves than we should and that leads to perceptions of inadequacy that is in reality very far from the truth. Know that you deserve to be here just as much as each and every other student on this campus. Know that you have the potential and capabilities to excel in all aspects here. Know that your self-worth and success is measured beyond grades, beyond what is put down on paper.

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the author

Kelly is a sophomore studying Microbial Biology and Business Administration at the superCALifragilisticexpialidocious University of California, Berkeley. Much of her free time involves Miranda Sings impressions, puns, the woods, concerts, and Netflix. Also food. Always food. Food is bae.

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