Proud As

I failed an MBA class. I’m proud of myself.

Well, not for failing the course. That is a bit bewildering. I aced papers in the other class. The class where the papers are marked by the former Dean of the program. There’s a 17 percent discrepancy. Apparently my goals were not “specific” enough in the final paper. I’m mystified because I defined when they would be achieved and how I could prove this, but there you have it, not specific enough. Since I wasn’t giving out the grades, my logic doesn’t much matter.

Anyway. That’s not why I’m proud of myself.

When I was doing my undergrad, failing a course would have sent me into a tailspin. I would have hidden for days. Shame would have moved in, taken over and held me hostage. It would have been the end of the world.

My identity was academic success. Failing meant that I was stupid. Being stupid was the end of the world.

This time I looked at all the things I do well, all the personal and professional success, and I shrugged. Failing a course is not a big deal. It’s going to be a pain in the ass to make it up. It’s going to be expensive. Eh. It’s only time and money. Not the end of the world. I let the shame go. When it tried to come in the front door, I stood and barred the way.

This time I sent the program co-ordinator an email. Booked some time with the instructor to review the feedback. Sent my paper to my writing coach.¬†When I didn’t like the answer about how to make good on the course (effectively re-take the course) I appealed to the program head. I knew I wasn’t going to get anywhere. I have a great argument for the option I presented them (re-write a harder paper, equivalent to re-taking a final exam had there been one), but this really is a cash grab on the part of my university. They have me over a barrel and they know it; they are not going to give up a couple of thousand dollars.

Mostly what I’m proud about is that I did all of that.

I acknowledged I failed, did what I could to understand why (it turns out if you are writing about leadership goals in this program, your goal is to get a maximum rating on the emotional intelligence ranking of your performance appraisal. Anything else is not specific enough). There was a hoop, I missed the hoop. I’ve actually always sucked at academic hoops. This is nothing new. It pissed me off during undergrad and it infuriates me now.

I failed the course. I proved that I have learned a few things since my undergrad days. That’s worth a lot.


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3 Responses to Proud As

  1. Mel says:

    Thank you for this. It sucks to have failed the course, but what you’ve succeeded at is making another person in the universe feel less alone and less terrible on a night when she was feeling a great deal of shame over failing something. Going to knock shame out of the room and get on with things. As you say, it’s just time and money, and not a statement on my entire being. Thank you.

  2. Debby Hornburg says:

    Oh. I think of the times that I have failed in my life…and what I feel like is a failure. I’ve been doing it wrong. Next time, I’m going to follow your cues.

  3. Canada2018 says:

    Thank you for writing this. I recently just failed an MBA course as well and I was searching the wild internet to find someone who might have gone through the same thing… Thank you for letting me know that I am not alone. Right now I am feeling like a failure and I know I will have a great battle ahead to appeal to the instructor and the MBA office about the grade. The risk of being kicked out of the program (2 failed classes) is extremely high… Praying for the best.

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