Dealing with Academic Setbacks

By February 15, 2020 Education, Inspiration

One of the worst things for anyone in university or any other level of education is getting delayed.

This may be due to failure, mass action (strikes) of university staff, failure to meet up with accreditation requirements and many more.

Today, our guest writer, Dr Ope Osonuga, tells us about an academic setback she faced at some point in medical school. We’re sure you would learn a thing or two. Enjoy!

Hey there, I’m Opeyemi and I’ll be sharing on ‘Dealing with academic setbacks’. I’ve had my fair share of academic setbacks but I’ll be sharing more about one I had in Medical School. I hope you learn one or two.

In my first year in University, I was on a first class, which was great but that wasn’t going to matter after first year in medical school anyway. Second year was good as well, I passed the comprehensive exam (mock exam sort of) we had back then and that gave me a confidence boost for the upcoming promotional exams.

Little back story on how medical school works; every year, we write promotional exams which focus on the several aspects (courses) of Medicine & Surgery. These exams could end up in 4 ways;

– Pass and proceed to the next level.

– Resit; in this case, the candidate is given 6 weeks to prepare and attempt the exam again. After passing, the candidate can then join the other colleagues.

– Repeat; in this case, the candidate has to literally repeat that school year. Oh by the way, the candidate would have to pay the school fees for that year all over again.

– Withdraw; this isn’t very popular but it does happen and in this case, the candidate is advised to withdraw from medical school and study a different course in that university or the candidate can choose to leave and try Medical School somewhere else.

At this point in my life I was becoming more confident about my academics. I was passing my tests, even though some were 50-something pass marks, it still made me happy. I was glad I was settling well into Medical school.

First promotional exam literally hit me like a tonne of bricks lol. I remember walking to the board with my friend whose matric number is right before mine. She screamed when she saw her number and then I heard her mutter Ope’s matric number is not here, I was dazed. The reality didn’t sink in well at first, at that point all I wanted to know was – which course did I fail??

The ‘resit’, ‘repeat’ and ‘withdraw’ lists are usually pasted on the notice board beside the secretary’s office so I had to go inside to check the list. And there it was – PHYSIOLOGY. Honestly, the thought of failing physiology never even crossed my mind once. It was never really a struggle for me, I did well in majority of my tests, so what happened??

The first thing (I think) I did was call my dad and tell him about the resit – I remember my dad saying; it’s just one course now, you’ve passed already (my dad was literally a pillar all through Medical School – I could call him for anythinggg, even if I got zero in a test I was confident enough to tell him because I knew he would encourage me and have my back).

I called my mum as well and she was very supportive and came to pick me from school the next day.

Long story short, I passed the exam after the 6 weeks. But those 6 weeks were the longest 6 weeks of my life.

Enough of my story, how can a person deal with Academic Setbacks?

1. Have a great support system!

If your parents aren’t so supportive, let your friends be your support system and maximize their support. Some will even buy you free food that period, please dear, collect it lol. I remember getting to my room that night crying and I had some friends (S/O to potters touch Ladies) come over to pray for me, encourage me and make me laugh, I’ll never forget that night.

2. Don’t shut people out, let them in

Trust me I’ve been there, I know how it feels. At that point I just wanted to shut everyone out, especially those that passed and kept asking me ‘hope you’re preparing for the resit’ – hello, can you just leave me alone please? Lol. Now it’s funny, it wasn’t funny then. But I had to keep reminding myself that they had my best interest at heart.

3. Join a study group, go for tutorials, study past question papers.

Literally put in your best work, that season will pass anyway. Also ask for help, you don’t know it all and that’s okay.

4. Deal with defeating thoughts/mindsets

For me, I started having thoughts like if you didn’t pass the first one, what makes you think you’ll pass the resit? I decided to talk about it in front of my Psychiatry Consultant & my other colleagues during one of the tutorial classes we had and it really helped.

5. Remember that in years from now, this setback won’t matter.

If anything, it would be an opportunity to encourage others! I learnt this some years back during my A’levels (S/o to Dolapo), best believe I had a setback then and my friend had to knock this lesson into my head.

6. Nobody is gossiping about you

Shut down those thoughts. Trust me when you see people talking, you would start to think it’s about you and even if they are, it’s their business.

7. Remember you’re not a failure because you failed an exam. Do not form an identity about yourself because of what happened to you.

8. If you’re a Believer, please pray – a lot

On some days you’ll feel like I can do this, other days you may defeated, some days you would feel like all the problems of the world are on your head. The constant k in dealing with all you go through is God, our ever present help. Also ask Him to show you what you need to learn from that situation.

Setbacks are bound to happen and I’ve come to realize that setbacks are relative to everyone.

A setback is a reversal or check in progress.

A setback could be as little as failing a test, to some, it’s getting less than the score they wanted even if they still passed, to others it maybe as major as repeating a school year. The biggest battle when a setback occurs is usually mentally and you’ve got to remind yourself that you’ve got this and keep on keeping on!

Dr Ope Osonuga is a medical doctor and entrepreneur. She is the founder of Wigs by Yemi, a business which offers services like wig customization, consultation and training in the art of wig making. Ope is also a devout Christian and continues to speak of her faith and encourage others through her social media platforms.

Did you enjoy this post? Share with your friends and people you think may need it!

Stay connected with us by following us on our social media platforms; Instagram and Twitter @mytutorafrica.

Leave a Reply