Columns, Opinion

WHITING: Unfit for survival

I’m going to fail.

Now usually when I say that, people scoff and mock me, assuming I mean I’ll get a B, which they take to be near failing for me given my apparently incredibly high standards. I may look the part of “good student” &- always “studying” on my laptop computer, wearing glasses, books and newspapers surrounding me. But trust me this time: I’m in actual, grave danger of not passing my science requirement.

How so, you ask? It’s quite simple when one totals everything up: I have to take science. In that science, I’ve received, respectively, a 6 out of 10 and a 4 out of 10 on two quizzes. And we had a midterm last week &- my grade? A phenomenal 37 out of 56.

That is a 66 percent. That is a D.

For those of you learned in the Boston University grading system, a D means “low” or “pass,” and according to BU’s teaching guidelines, signifies that its earner only managed “limited understanding/accomplishment or effort.” It’s not the feedback anyone hopes to receive. This midterm only counts as an entire fifth of my final grade. So when I say that I could fail the class, my exclamation is relatively valid.

I’m unsure exactly where my intellect went while taking the test; I mostly remember my sentiment of preparedness quickly draining into silent despair as I stared at questions that pertained to nothing I had diligently studied. I spent half of my energy trying my best to calmly execute the supposedly good process of elimination. The other half, I spent trying to think of graceful ways to toss the test into the air, walk briskly out of the lecture hall and drop the class &- but the day of the exam was the last day to do such a thing, and my conscience (stupidly) willed me to push onward.

Technically, CC106: Biodiversity, (Biology for Dummies, if you will &- that is, English majors like myself), is designed for students enrolled in Core specifically to avoid mathematics and therein provides them with a doable biology-like course without staining their transcripts. But I haven’t touched the biological sciences since my sophomore year of high school, and while the class is admittedly manageable, I have clearly pruned out everything scientific from my mind since dropping the subject from my curriculum two years ago.

I’m told I still need to learn how to study.

In any case, I feel that the world is shattering around me. I’ve been so drilled to believe that little matters if there isn’t an A on my transcript, and while I’ve rebelliously pretended I don’t believe in that mantra, that I’m above worrying about the superficiality of a perfect score, I still feel the blow of a 66 percent on a midterm. 66 percent means I have to get everything right from here on out. And given my aforementioned non-aptness in the sciences, I fear this is simply an impossibility. I ought to just kiss Columbia University’s journalism school goodbye. That way, if I learn anything in college, it’ll be how to make regular reality checks, which I’m told are important in real life.

Thing is, I’m not big on reality, reality being that my chances of bringing up my grade are tough. I now have to start doing the extra assigned readings, memorizing ribosome functions before discussion section and making sure that during lecture, my thoughts do not drift to the beautiful men who roam the halls of the School of Management.

I guess it’s not the end of the world. A 66 percent doesn’t necessarily define me, and even if it did, that wouldn’t be that bad. It might even make me cool &- you know how people tend to make fun of the overachievers? I’d transfer to Brown University and take pass/fail courses. But oh, wait: I just failed biology.

In my naïve opinion, I shouldn’t have to pay to struggle to do what the board requires; I should be able to study what I want and do well in it. If a curriculum-creator wishes to reply to me, please do. I’d like an explanation about just how spending time studying biology, and failing, while not pursuing what I love is going to get me farther.

Maybe I’m just not cut out for college. There are times when I’d like to drop out and flee to Antarctica to do something adventurous such as photograph penguins. But I’m actually quite lucky to be in this class learning about the environment and the evolutionary, biological functions that ultimately determine the ways of the world, a world that is shattering less for me than it is for the penguins whose lives are currently in jeopardy thanks to global warming (cite: “Biodiversity: Causes and Consequences”). It’d be a brave new world if required classes were nonexistent &- it’s probably better to know things and fail than it is to never try to know at all.

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