Personal Failure, Part II

(Click the picture below to read the first part. It’s not a requirement. You are free to make your own choices.)


Now that everyone has completed the first part of my tragedy, I feel confident in giving you the conclusion. Here it goes:

I took financial mathematics because I needed a math credit and I thought the practical application of finances would lend to a practical learning environment.

I was incorrect.

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I turned in assignment after assignment with answers correct down to the decimal point, but would constantly receive zeroes on assignments for doing it the incorrect way (the way the book does it). Eight out of ten answers on the first test were correct. By my math this is an 80 percent. By his math it was a 10 percent.

After the first test was graded, about half the students dropped the class. This moment would have been perfect for me to leave this professor and his ego in the math department where it belonged. No one would blame me if I left.

Instead I took it as a challenge.


Academia had usually provided little challenge for me, and in the rare instances where I was challenged, a few dedicated study sessions pulled me out of even the most dire of situations. Hell, senior year of high school I had less than half attendance and still managed to pass all my classes. I think technically I shouldn’t have been allowed to receive credit due to my absences, but they let it slide on account of my consistently high grades (and I think it would have required paperwork they didn’t want to do.) I would have even received honors if I attended the mandatory meetings (I didn’t, and they kicked me out.) Before I took financial mathematics, I had never failed a test.

Now I’ve failed four.

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By last month, I was mathematically failing this class. By this I mean that even if I were to magically receive perfect scores on every subsequent assignment and test, I would still not have enough points to pass the class. The amount of people attending the class on any given day had dropped from the initial fifty or so to about eight.


So why did I continue to stick around even when, mathematically, I had no way of succeeding?

I’ll tell you:

It’s called a grading curve.


Yes, in order not to feel like terrible teachers, sometimes educators will employ this magical device to curve the grades. F’s become C’s, B’s become A’s, and A’s stay the same because fuck you if you’re getting an A when everyone else is failing.

You see kids, if everyone is failing, than failing is the average, and an average is a C, not an F, you silly, silly children.


I chatted up the few remaining students, and most of them seemed to be failing or at least close to failing. A beautiful grading curve was inevitable.


Now, I’d like to tell you that even though I wasn’t the strongest or smartest, even though all the odds were stacked against me, I stuck it out. And because I stuck it out, working hard, studying into the wee hours of the night, turning in failed assignment after failed assignment, my god-damned determination paid off in the end.

I’d like to tell you that.

But I can’t.

Because it didn’t.

I fucking failed and I just have to live with that.

And so do you.



Personal Failure, Part I

One hour from the time I am writing this, I will be expected to fail a mathematics tests. Did you notice that I said “fail” instead of “take?” You should, because that is the basic premise for this entire blog post.

You see, my college requires everyone to obtain three credits of mathematics in order to graduate. Unfortunately, many people who definitely aren’t me avoid taking math classes until the last minute. This is because most math classes are about as appealing as watery oatmeal.

In their vast wisdom, my college implemented a system: if you don’t register for a math class by the end of sophomore year, you are not allowed to register for any classes at all.

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I went up the registrar’s office during their office hour of  one p.m. to two p.m. and asked them to fix this for me. I promised I would sign up for a math class right away if they let me register before all the good classes were taken. The registrar was exactly as helpful as every public service worker I’ve ever encountered.

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After maybe a week of bugging them, I finally lucked out and landed a helpful person.


Then came the choice of which pointless and unnecessary level 100 math course I’d have to take. Pretty much every course at that level sounded like it would be filled with the boring as fuck fractions and line graphs I was forced to do throughout middle school until they boosted me up to the advanced courses when it became clear this stuff was too easy for my smart-ass brain.


Back my youngin’ days, I took a lot of pride in being smarter than my hillbilly peers, but now I just wanted to obtain my two credits with the least amount of work possible. That’s when I noticed a beautiful, familiar face: Financial Mathematics.

You see, back in middle school, Financial Mathematics was part of a “special” group of classes. Any kid too dumb for the worthless knowledge the school provided was placed into a tract designed to promote “practical knowledge.”


When I saw the glorious class as one of my college options I signed up immediately, positive I could breeze through with all the effort of a public service worker.


Unfortunately, it was this brazen overconfidence that did become my downfall…