Education is an emotional roller coaster. A successful assignment can send spirits soaring, while a poor assignment can plummet us into a hell of self-doubt.

When I am enjoying the success of my efforts the feeling can’t be beat. My confidence soars and I feel validated. I believe I am where I am supposed to be; I begin to plan my future studies beyond an undergrad degree. However, when I do poorly my energy plummets. I question what I am doing and if I am in the right place. All of this hinges on single assignments. In a traditional brick and mortar school there are more chances to catch your errors before handing in assignments, such as class discussions which can help you understand key theories or concepts before you go wrong. For myself, with Athabasca University, I typically do not know I have gone astray until it is too late. I do not know until I get a permanently graded assignment back. In my mind each assignment typically carries a heavy weight; one which will drastically effect my final mark, which will affect my GPA.

Yes, there can be a lot of weight on a single assignment. However, It’s likely not as much as I put on it. I torment myself with each assignment. I am either overjoyed or depressed. This can hurt how I feel about a course. If I get a poor result then I carry that burden through the rest of the course. It taints the remaining readings and assignments. I put more weight than necessary on the remaining assignments. When I do this, I am trying to make up for the first assignment (even though in most cases It’s worth only a small percentage: 10%.) This pressure can ruin a course for me. It has, in the past, turned a course from one of my favorites to one I am merely trying to survive.

If I was able to adjust my attitude from one poor result?one assignment?and consider the course as a whole, I would likely continue to enjoy the material I am studying. If I stopped putting incredible pressure on every single assignment, and instead let a few roll off my back, I would do better. One poor mark does not necessarily have a large effect on my final mark, or my GPA. A poor result does not mean I will not succeed.

A poor mark, rather, means that I missed something. And, before continuing on, I need to go back and review. I need to take a moment and make sure I am understanding the material and not just shooting for the final product. I struggle with embracing the moment. My goal is getting close, I can almost see the finishing point. But one thing I must remember is to stop and enjoy now. It is important to have high goals, but it can put undue pressure on us. It can make me lose focus on the present. This is a journey to be proud of, and we really ought to enjoy ourselves along the way.

Deanna Roney is an AU student who loves adventure in life and literature