personal essay – academic reflection

I know this is late, and I am so sorry.

My entire high school career, my parents have lectured me on the importance of junior year and the first marking period of senior year to colleges. In my junior year, I started off with an F in my math class. I had a B in the course initially, but scored very low in the last test of the first marking period and my grade tanked. My confidence dropped and my stress level increased. I did not know what to do and I was scared to ask my parents to let me get a tutor. I almost believed that I deserved to fail. If it weren’t for the push from my teacher and the support of my friends, I would not have reached out for help. I would not have known how much reaching out would affect me, or my grade.

Of course, I panicked. I had a failing grade in a core class. My high school did not follow the Common Core curriculum so the school was known for being difficult and the ‘smart school’. We had different “phases” that depended on how well you did on the entrance exam, that ranged from 3 to 5, typically everyone tried to stay in phase 4 or 5, that were the ‘normal pace’ and ‘fast pace’ phases. I was in all phase 4s and 5s which wasn’t really a huge accomplishment. Being able to keep As or at least high Bs in these classes was expected. If you had to “phase down”, it was almost like you became someone who would not be able to succeed in life. It was then when I realized that the students tried to keep up the image being a smart school, and it was not just pressure from the faculty. The atmosphere of the school was almost suffocating. And since all of my classmates were intelligent and in higher learning classes, I felt beyond inadequate. 

My teacher, who had just come back from maternity leave and had no knowledge of my previous grade in the class, was obviously concerned, and tried to phase me down so that I would not fail Math Three. I refused, but my parents argued with me that I needed to improve either by phasing down or getting help. Phasing down was not an option in my mind. I have always been anxious about asking others for help, and I still am. After arguing with my parents about getting a personal tutor, my dad found me one, and instead of phasing down, I tried to boost my grade in the class. My parents and teacher wanted me to phase down but this was the last thing I wanted to do. I ended up with a high C on the next exam and my teacher allowed me to stay in the class. I felt like I got out by the skin of my teeth! The next marking period, I received a C on another test as well as the midterm. Third making period, however, I got a B. Learning the material beforehand with my tutor helped me to raise my grade in the subject. 

A group of friends and I made a small study group for classes that we had together, and in it was a kid in a higher phase of our math class. The kid was my friend Patrick, who would answer our questions and show examples on screen like Sal from Khan Academy, since we would skype and study. The other two in the call were friends from my math class who were just as lost as I was. Patrick taught us the next lesson topics prior to class so that we would have a better understanding. My tutor was pleased with my progress! I ended up not seeing him as often because I was becoming more confident with my math skills. I was getting A’s and B’s on my quizzes and tests while also bringing up my course average. By spring, I stopped seeing my tutor for math help entirely. My teacher was no longer worried about me, and was pleased that I put in effort to be prepared for class. 

In the fourth marking period, I got an eighty-nine for the marking period which, unfortunately, broke the ascent of my letter grade. However, I received a ninety-three on my final. I went from an F on the first test to an A on the final. This was a huge jump and I am proud of myself to improve so much within the school year. Learning from that, I began learning calculus before the school year so I would not struggle so much in the course. I even stayed with my tutor for SAT preparation and studying, each time being able to boast on how much I have improved. I understand that while it can be frustrating and frightening, reaching out for help and learning beforehand with people I am comfortable with can allow me to improve incredibly.


Published by


ud '23 ig: @sanjhnahh

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s