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On Campus, Failure Is on the Syllabus

Dave_BerryDave_Berry CC Admissions Expert Posts: 2,793 Senior Member
"A Smith College initiative called “Failing Well” is one of a crop of university programs that aim to help high achievers cope with basic setbacks. ... Last year, during fall orientation at Smith College, and then again recently at final-exam time, students who wandered into the campus hub were faced with an unfamiliar situation: the worst failures of their peers projected onto a large screen." ...


Replies to: On Campus, Failure Is on the Syllabus

  • romanigypsyeyesromanigypsyeyes Registered User Posts: 33,833 Senior Member
    I really wonder how any student can go through life without single setback, ever, and then I read threads like: http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/parent-cafe/2000436-defending-helicopter-parenting-p1.html and remember that there are parents who will not let their students fail.

    It's sad, really. An 18 year old should be able to cope with getting a "B"

    (Now coming out to parents is a whole different thing.)
  • CorinthianCorinthian Registered User Posts: 1,781 Senior Member
    The article makes the point that it's not just the kids of helicopter parents that fear failure but also kids from marginalized backgrounds who feel a weighty obligation to family and community back home to succeed. I think it's great that more colleges are trying to send the message that it's okay to struggle, okay to fail. I know my older D has a tendency to "catastrophize" when she first encounters a setback and jump to the conclusion that all is lost, she will never get into graduate school or get a job, etc. She works her way through it eventually but I do feel bad that she seems to have picked up the message that college is a high stakes make-or-break experience. And I'm sorry for whatever role we parents unintentionally played in that. I also think the high cost of college contributes to students' anxiety and the feeling that it's so high stakes.
  • romanigypsyeyesromanigypsyeyes Registered User Posts: 33,833 Senior Member
    The article was kind of weird. The captions on the pictures talked about coming from marginalized backgrounds but the article itself didn't... with the exception of one quote.

    Really, the article is talking about middle & upper class kids who have just never experienced failure- not kids from rough backgrounds who are under pressure for a whole different slew of reasons.

    I was first-gen, full pell. I understand the pressure of knowing the whole family is looking to you to be the first "success." That is a WAY different pressure from counseling kids on how to accept a "B".... and that's what this is addressing.
  • AlbionGirlAlbionGirl Registered User Posts: 885 Member
    I think it's a good idea to let students feel that they can fail and it's just a bump in the road, not the end of the world. I did chuckle to myself a little over the girl whose idea of a set back was arriving with only a "simple HP laptop" to complete her assignments.
  • transfertobmctransfertobmc Registered User Posts: 55 Junior Member
    Just because the article doesn't say some of the quoted people are from low-income households doesn't mean they aren't. I know it may seem silly to freak out over B grades, but some people are conditioned to think this way by their parents or others. I think part of why one failure freaks people out so much is because they have specific goals and aspirations. If your goal is to get into an Ivy League, of course you'd freak out about a B. Messing up of step of your plans may make a difference between failing and succeeding and you really only have one shot in some cases.
    I've always been the type of student who wants to be great at everything. My grades were great and I was MVP of the cross country and track team, etc. I loved running and my goal was to run really fast times and get recruited to a prestigious school with some athletic scholarship. When I got injured, it completely crushed me. I started having depression, my grades started slipping, and I just hit rock bottom because I didn't know how to fail. My self-worth was tied into the things I thought I was good at. It took me a long time to develop a more healthy perspective. When you look at things from an outside perspective, it doesn't seem like a big deal but there are so many internal things that are a factor.
    Obviously, this is not a healthy mindset to have, we just need to look more deeply into the reasons behind these mindsets.

    On a side note, funny I should see this because after a lot of different conflicts/dealing with failure, I'm transferring to Smith College to run XC and Track in the fall :)
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