As I sit here a mere three months away from graduation I have been doing quite a bit of reflecting on my four years (as well as a decent amount of crying, but that's a separate issue). I've been extremely fortunate in my undergrad experience to do things and meet people that I never thought imaginable. I traveled to Rio de Janeiro for the FIFA World Cup with my university, and met personal heroes such as rapper Chuck D. Most of all, I have made amazing friends that will no doubt be a part of the rest of my life.
However, at the end of the day the thing that I am most proud of is that I will be able to walk across that stage and hold my degree that I have worked so hard for, and that is an area I have reflected on a lot.
As with most college students I have worked very hard over the past four years to obtain my degree. I've spent countless hours studying, written more papers then I can count and pulled more all-nighters than I care to admit and I couldn't be prouder of that (well, I guess I could have pulled a few less all-nighters). As much as I may have hated all the work while I was in the thick of it, there was no better feeling than knowing the hard work paid off when I received a grade back on an exam or paper.
I remember one of the first exams that I really had to study hard for was a geography exam with a particularly challenging professor. I left the exam unsure of how I did, and I remember how nervous I felt when the professor started handing the exams back. I grabbed the exam and when I looked at the grade I was ecstatic, I got a 92!
I've always been someone who's taken pride in my grades so when I turned to my classmates as we were all comparing grades I couldn't wait to share the good news. When I told them I was expecting to hear, "congratulations," and "good job!" Instead what I got was called an asshole and a jerk and was made to feel ashamed of how well I had did and that was something that stuck with me for a while.
I would say I went through the next two years of college afraid to tell people my grades on exams and papers and I blamed them for that. Then at the end of my junior year I realized it was my fault. I allowed other people to let me feel shame for doing well academically. I took names like overachiever, try-hard and nerd as an insult.
Well I am here to tell all the students out there like me to wear those names as a badge of honor! You should never be ashamed of doing well academically, especially considering how much you pay to be able to earn those grades. I want you to realize that all those people sitting in that class with you that didn't do well had the same opportunity that you did to get that grade.
They sat in the same classroom (if they showed up), had access to the same notes, class discussion and professor as you did so do not be ashamed that you did better. Now of course certain students don't grasp certain concepts and that's understandable. I also understand that students suffer from test anxiety and don't always match with the teaching style of their professor; this is more geared toward the students who don't do their work then want you to feel guilty for doing it.
So to all the students out there that think they have to hide their academic achievements I say to you, that is why you are in school! You are in school to receive a degree and to hopefully do more than the bare minimum to get by. If your classmates want to live by the mantra "C's get degrees," then go ahead and let them but don't allow them to diminish your accomplishments.
Being smart is cool my friends. Now don't read into this incorrectly; don't go around flaunting your grades to people that didn't do so well because that just makes you a jackass. It's okay to get good grades, that's what your supposed to do. Don't feel guilty for busting the curve on an exam.
Don't feel guilty for having your hard work pay off. Don't feel guilty for not wasting your time and money. Don't feel guilty for realizing your potential and most of all never feel guilty for achieving the goals you set for yourself.
When I walk across the stage at graduation it will be as a member of four on campus honor societies and as the president of one of them. When they announce that I am graduating (insert Latin word here) cum laude I will hold my head up high because I achieved the goals I set for myself and because I stopped letting people make me feel bad about it a long time ago.