What I Learnt From Failing Four Years of University

Feel like a failure or have an embarrassing regret from your past? Life Coach Denise Duffield-Thomas shares the lessons from her biggest secret failure.

Not many people know this about me, but I completely failed my first undergraduate degree. I didn’t just fail one class or one semester. I didn’t even just fail one year of university. I spent four years failing my three year degree, racked up student debts of $20,000 and left without any kind of qualification to show for it.

My grade point average was the lowest it could possibly be. I completely and utterly FAILED. No doubt about it. A big, fat EPIC FAIL.

I could list the reason why I think this happened (there were many), but whatever my excuses, the fact is that I started skipping classes, missing assignment deadlines and feeling miserable about myself.

I remember the feeling of failure very well. My first semester’s exams were horrendous. I turned up late (because I didn’t know what room it was in) and ill-prepared, without a calculator or even a pen!

I’d sit there numbly, looking at the paper and not recognising a single thing, until I was allowed to leave. Eventually I’d just not show up at all. It was easier to stay in bed, or go to the student bar and play pool (I got really good at pool).

This behaviour was alien to me because I always did well in school. I usually did my homework last minute, but teachers liked me and I enjoyed taking home good grades consistently. I was the first person in my family to go to university and I thought it would be a fun, life-changing experience.

When my results came in the post at the end of the first year, I felt sick. I knew that I hadn’t done well enough to pass, but to see the big fat F beside almost every subject was undeniable. To say that I was disappointed in myself was a massive understatement.

My second year was only marginally better. I “only” failed about half the subjects. My third and fourth years, I passed most subjects but the damage was done. My schedule was so messed up with prerequisites missed, that it would take me at least another year to complete.

I told myself that I didn’t care, that I would be successful anyway without my degree. I got offered a job to move to London and off I went without a degree to my name.

So what did I learn? Keep reading to find out….