not knowing when to quit

Expressionless, I comb through my entire undergraduate transcript, slowly shaking my head as I enter the numbers into my spreadsheet and crunch the numbers. No if’s, and’s, or but’s: my final calculated undergraduate GPA indeed matches the official GPA listed on my transcript to the hundredths digit. And oh what an unsightly GPA it is. If (and I do realize I just said “no if’s”) the hundredths digit had somehow clawed its way up to a 5, I’d be rounding up to a 3.0!

I laugh and shake my head again. Wow… desiring a 3.0?

Well, it’s true. I’m in a dangerously unrecoverable realm known as the 2.X region that threatens to overshadow any other feat I can muster in front of the admissions committee. What’s worse (or quite fortunate depending on your perspective) is how I did not face any significant obstacle, personal tragedy, dire financial circumstances, or any other spectacular circumstances to justify my spectacularly unspectacular undergraduate performance.

Though proving to be a lost cause, I eyeball my transcript anyway. I see a couple B’s and vividly recall how in one statistics class I ended with a 88.6, just 0.9 points away from an A. The same went for another class, where I was just 2 points away from that coveted 4.0… but instead was awarded a fat 3.0. It used to kill me that my school never utilized a more staggered grading point system. But in retrospect, I should have been aiming for far beyond that 89.5 threshold anyway.

I glance at the first semester of my freshmen year, my worst performing semester of my college. Strangely, I handed in my best performance the semester after. My mind instinctively piles up with an array of inadequate excuses to point the finger at.

I’ll leave the sob stories at the door. Everyone goes through some form of shock and awe from the overwhelming freedom that college grants us – we’re free in a way we’ve never been when we were living at home in high school (well, unless you opted to go to a local college and brought your laundry home on the weekends). Plenty of undergrads are capable of earning 4.0’s through a stockpile of responsibilities, duties, and social drama. Some have that natural knack or innate talent, others matured far faster in their early teens and came prepared with a decided major and a game plan. I just happened to be still learning who I was and where my limits were.

As I continue to forlornly stare at my course breakdown, I notice an obvious trend. The overwhelming majority of courses in which I performed poorly in were those of the natural sciences. Did I forget to mention that I was a biology major? 🙂

Now, this isn’t some starting personal revelation; I’ve known for years that my performance in the sciences royally sucked. But the pieces slowly began to form, the “Why” began to take shape. Yes, I ended up double majoring in business administration where I went on to perform far better in its coursework than in my various lab courses.

I rapidly punched in numbers, isolating my finance, economics, and business coursework from the ugly piles of organic chemistry and biochemistry woodwork. With the weighted distributions I stared at a business major GPA of… 3.5.

not bad. My persistence in sticking with my original major even though I had long lost passion for the natural sciences or abandoned my pre-med dreams had definitely contributed to my undoing. It’s no excuse, but it certainly didn’t help me get to where I am today. Perhaps if I had took a stronger leap of faith and switched majors completely, then I would have had a solid 2 years to climb out of the 2.X pit. Sometimes, you just have to take your losses and know when to quit.


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