My last two semesters at UMass Boston were crazy. In Fall 2018, my dad started dialysis, and is still going two or three times a week, for four hours each time. It’s not fun for anyone, really. Since then, I’ve learned to cope using what I have come to know best: getting as perfect grades in school as I can. More for me than anyone. I didn’t do so well in my high school years where grades were concerned. I did just okay during my community college years, and only slightly better when I finally found my major in that community college through English with a concentration in Creative Writing.

I all but drowned myself in homework during my waking hours from then on. But when things started getting a bit too real for me in Spring 2019, I learned through this complex to use my professors to their advantage. I still suck at time management, but it’s become better since I’ve come to learn how beautiful weekends can be when you aren’t studying or doing homework through the week non-stop: like the past couple weeks as I have been wrapping up my final class to get my Bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in Classics Studies.

You know that one week everyone gets between the Spring semester before—depending on what session you chose—Summer classes start? I never had that week. Instead, it was spent perfecting a final paper to the last minute thanks to an amazing professor, Dr. Randall Colaizzi—if you’re having similar issues and still need a class, take him. He’ll help you get where you need to be in the class if you just talk to him. So, I got maybe an hour and a half of a breath for my own vacation gap between Spring 2019 and Summer 2019. But I got the A I wanted! For some reason, my full-time semesters just didn’t feel complete without at least one A. And with Spring 2019 being my final full-time semester, of course I wanted an A in that semester.

I’m writing this while I wrap up my final week in my online class, but I know I probably won’t get the A I want—and, you know what? I’ve accepted that. You can only be in school for so long before life starts giving you wake up calls. I was lucky compared to some others in my family; I was at least able to graduate with this Bachelor’s degree. I’ve thought about coming back for my Master’s in English for some time, but I’ve come to accept that the stars aren’t aligned for that to happen, at least not so soon, and I do need a break from school before I return for that. If I have to return as that lady in her 40s–50s with the awesome white hair? That’s fine with me too!

So, this semester as you finally choose the classes you want and settle into it, don’t go crazy like I allowed myself to get the past few semesters. Work hard. Study hard. Play hard. Try and fit some social life into your college life. But you don’t need an A at the end of every class to show you worked hard. Get the best grade out of every assignment you can get, sure. If you’re struggling, definitely talk to your professors. Most will be amazingly understanding. Take any extensions allowed if you need them so you can at least breathe a little bit. Life doesn’t stop just because you chose to come to college. I learned the hard way: it will catch up to you if you don’t learn to balance it while you still can.  

When you do find that job you want, while it is nice to have a 3.0+ GPA, and you should strive for that as much as you can, your employer won’t decide to not choose you just because you don’t have a 4.0. They might look at the GPA, ask you what you did during certain times, maybe. But nobody is going to beat you up or not hire you because you didn’t get all the A’s ever.

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