I let them down. Well, I let each of them down apart from one. In my last ever report card in highschool (before the IB exams), here’s what I was achieving:
All was good. All was happy. I had worked my ass of for 1.5 years, gotten into one of my top university choices, Berkeley, and I was ready to party during the summer.
But wait, I had one small thing remaining. Umm yeah, small. I had the IB Exams to actually do!!!!
There was a problem, though. Come two weeks before the exams, I had done ZERO revision. That’s zero with a big fat capital Z.
Now, it’s important to realize that US Universities don’t really care about what you get in the actual IB exams at the end of the two-year program. They look at your Year 12 and Year 13 report cards, your predicted grades, and a lot of other stuff, but as long as you can pass your IB exams, you’re fine. This is because they’ve already accepted/rejected you by the time you actually have to take the exams.
Anyhow, I wasn’t feeling that stressed. I mean, I already knew where I was going to go for university, unlike my peers who applied to the UK, whose whole admission offer was contingent upon them reaching their offers. It was really intense to see; everyone was working super hard around me, meanwhile I was, like an idiot, muttering to myself:
You don’t need to study, Shikhar. You’ll be fine! Who cares, anyway! Woohooo summer”
Well, here’s what ended up happening.
I got a 38 (with 1 bonus point), which is a very respectable score and one that I am extremely proud of. Make no mistake. But taken into context, it is a score that was literally five points below what I was predicted. In the grand scheme of things, it probably doesn’t matter.
But what you really feel is a sense of disappointment and regret. Instead of getting all 7s and one six, I had done the exact opposite. I had let down my teachers, let down the school, but most importantly, let down myself.
It didn’t matter that I had probably worked harder than my peers the year before, gotten amazing predicted grades and even done well on my SATs. All that mattered at that moment in time was that I hadn’t gotten what I should have gotten. And even though it affected nothing, it affected something inside me. It stung. It hurt.
So, what I tell you is this:
No matter what the implications, the context, or the reasons of your situation, always try your best. Study as hard as you can even if your exams don’t affect you in the long-term. The feeling of regret simply isn’t worth it afterwards; ever wanted to ask out a girl and didn’t have the courage to do it? Well, that’s exactly what it feels like when you don’t study enough for something. You feel straight up bad.
So, I’m going to say it one last time:
Don’t give up the race at the end simply because it doesn’t matter if you win. Keep running, keep working, and always try your best. I’m looking particularly at you, my dear US applicants. I’m watching you guys closely.