School has the length and variety of subjects to make mistakes not be fatal flaws. Suppose an assignment receives a poor grade, or even a course, or even – gasp –a term. School is very forgiving because of fresh starts. Granted, the perfectionist who has to make 100 on every assignment will not be satisfied with this milk-toast view I’m putting forth here, but the perfectionist might find learn a good lesson from those with weaknesses.
Most people have weaknesses. These are not moral flaws; they are simply areas where one struggles at what others do more easily. After a failure or repeated failures, the answer might be as simple as a fresh start. Many students catch on to the culture of learning and become wiser. For example, with a required subject that is an area of weakness, success might be redefined as making a B or C while keeping stronger grades in other subjects. The fresh start in this case is a new mentality of accepting limitations and maximizing opportunities more likely to succeed in the conventional sense.
A fresh start could mean stopping to do an overall assessment. Students often flock to a vocational track that offers higher wages, nothing wrong here. It might not be a match, however, to real aptitudes or personal interests. It’s difficult for teachers and advisors to douse hopes by ambitious students, and perhaps learning by trial and error is the best way.
A former student in my English class got through one year of nursing school and had the courage to leave the program, even though she was a stellar student. The fact is, she’s an entrepreneur and had been already for years. Nursing looked lucrative and glamorous, but her interests were more toward business. Thankfully she had the courage to make a fresh start.
A fresh start for nontraditional students might mean weighing up family, job, and school realistically and not taking an all-or-nothing strategy with any one area. It takes maturity to step out of a crisis mentality where life always is moving from emergency to emergency. The poor word emergency needs a rest.
Then there’s the cliché, “I’ve got a lot on my plate.” Some wisdom with portion size might help. The chronic attitude of self-esteem by virtue of business is more of a pack mentality than the sign of independent learning skills and critical thinking. But then, taking a look at ourselves is never as easy as others taking a look at us.
It’s great, however, when we can take a look at ourselves and be thankful that the urgency of school is not so urgent that a longer, more encompassing view of life can’t check the discouragement of a failure in the moment.