Once upon a time, many moons ago, I didn't have to try in school.
And then I came to college.
In high school, I was able to breeze by with A's without studying at all. I could half-do my homework and never read a chapter and make it through the semester with better-than-most grades (except in math... I hate math). I didn't study, I didn't apply myself, but I never finished a class with a poor grade. I considered myself a natural genius. College taught me that I am, in fact, not.
I eventually got over the shock that I was about to have to try in school, but I began to believe lies about my identity and a student. I was working so hard to do well in my classes and honestly, it didn't always pay off. I saw other students in my classes that didn't have to study as much as I did, made A's on everything, and they had the GPA's to prove it. I didn't make bad grades, but I was no longer nonchalantly sitting at the top of the academic totem pole.
After my first semester, grades came out and they reflected how defeated I felt. They weren't terrible, but my high school grades easily outweighed them. I was struggling with the fact that my college education wasn't going to come easily. I remember thinking, "Wait, I thought I was smart?" and deciding that to be considered smart, school has to come easily and your grades had to be perfect.
Not surprisingly, I was very, very wrong about that.
At some point, I got over the shame of my grades and was able to laugh about how humbling college had been so far. It turns out that I wasn't alone in my academic identity crisis or in the lies that I was believing. I quickly learned that most college freshman feel the way I did, no matter what their grades look like.
I'm about to start my senior year and my GPA has come a long way since that first semester. School doesn't necessarily come easily for me now, but I've gotten the hang of college and I no longer put my identity in letter grades. I work really hard and I study a lot, but I'm no less smart than the other students in my class. Even though it's difficult, I enjoy school more now than I ever have in my life.
To the incoming freshmen (or any other student), rest in the fact that your worth is not weighed by your GPA. Ask the Father to help you see college as a way to honor and serve Him, not just in extracurriculars, but academically, too. He has called you to college and His power is made perfect in our weakness. Your grades may not look the way you want them to and you may have to work harder than you ever have before, but that doesn't have any affect on your identity. You're still smart if you have to try, friends. I'm praying that you, unlike my freshman-self, can believe that with all of your heart.
Stay great, friends.
Student, Writer, & Friend