Welcome to our special section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering student mental health, well-being, and redefining success from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus). We welcome faculty, clinicians, and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.

During my freshman year at the University of Virginia, I remember struggling immensely. I took a S.T.E.M.-heavy course load, struggled to get by in physics and calculus, and I had a 2.6 grade point average my first semester of college. The experience crushed my confidence in my intellectual abilities and made me second guess my belonging at the university. It was not until I went on academic probation my second semester of college that I had an epiphany and changed my career objectives. The experience made me acutely recognize that failure will be the reason why I will achieve my goals and dreams. However, I wished that other students would be able to realize this fact.

Failure teaches you more than success ever will. However, in the age of LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram, we are constantly comparing ourselves to people within our network and strangers. By not teaching students to embrace failure, educators are failing the next generation of leaders. Failure is the catalyst to success and it is vital to teach students that things may not always work out: that’s life. 

At the University of Virginia, the drive to succeed to be a perfect student is huge, and I often still struggle with the competitive nature of the student body. It seems that many students do not realize that every single person is on their own timeline and in order to be successful, you must fail. Instead of truly learning, college students are scrambling to get perfect grades and are missing out on the true meaning of a university education: to learn for the sake of learning. Knowledge is the gateway to creating effective change. Educators have a duty to teach real world advice. To reach your definition of success, you will fail. The journey to achieving your dreams will not be perfect and it may not always be fruitful. You must learn to bounce back and to “just do it,” as Nike says. Failure teaches you more than success ever will. It is time to embrace failure and to not be ashamed of it.

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More on Thrive on Campus:

What Campus Mental Health Centers Are Doing to Keep Up With Student Need

If You’re a Student Who’s Struggling With Mental Health, These 7 Tips Will Help

The Hidden Stress of RAs in the Student Mental Health Crisis


  • Malika Malik

    Campus Editor-at-Large from the University of Virginia

    Thrive Global

    Malika is a third year, studying Foreign Affairs at the University of Virginia. She is interested in the intersection of law and business, and she is particularly interested in human rights and social entrepreneurship. She is a huge advocate of the importance of sleep and mindfulness. In her free time, she enjoys boxing and cycling.