How did failing make me a better student?

On my blog I have posted about how I have previously studied at university and how I am currently studying again, but I haven’t always had success with being a student. I think it’s important to talk about this aspect just as much as it is to look at the positives I have had, and so I want to talk about how failing my Masters course, a decade ago now, made me a better student.

Looking back, I’m not surprised I failed. When I was studying for my undergraduate degree, we were told that because so many people now have degrees you have to try and stand out more, and one way of doing this is by getting a Masters degree. I remember when I was accepted for my Masters course, I told other people in my class and a few said that they just couldn’t do any more studying after the three years they had now done on their degree. I didn’t think anything of it – I liked university and wanted to see what else I could learn. On my Masters course I enjoyed learning about a more specific subject related to my degree, and did well on all of the assignments. But then came the dissertation.

It’s true what they say about picking your dissertation topic – make sure you like it! To be honest, I’d have trouble explaining my topic now as I didn’t put that much focus or effort into it. Comparing it to the other three projects I have done on a similar level, this one wasn’t good at all – not as much as I had done on my undergraduate dissertation anyway. However, I did try and I definitely didn’t think I’d fail it. When I learnt that I had failed the module I felt quite numb. A year’s worth of work had ended up with a fail, or I could re-submit it.

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The thought of re-doing my dissertation at that point was not good. By that point I just wanted to leave university behind and see what would come next. I decided not to do any more and didn’t end up with a Masters, but instead I graduated with a lower level qualification which was for my other grades within the course. But I wanted a Masters qualification. Five years later I studied for another Masters course and passed with a good grade. I was so happy. The difference? I had learnt from my previous mistake.

The dissertation topic is probably the biggest thing I learnt about through failing – when you decide to do something, anything in life really, I think you should always make sure it’s something you want to do. When it comes to studying, this is especially important as it’s difficult to spend a lot of time writing and researching about something that doesn’t interest you. Mindset is also an important thing to look at. Looking back, I had probably had enough of studying and didn’t put the time and effort into my dissertation that I should of. When I passed my second Masters course, I was dedicated, focused, and had an end goal in mind. The most important thing I learnt though was that I was never going to allow myself to get into that position again. I will now always make sure I do everything I can not to fail as that is half the battle – being focused.

Overall, from this experience I learnt that it’s also important not to let your failures get to you and consume your thinking. Just because you fail once doesn’t mean you will fail again, and I am proof of that. It can be upsetting to fail at something, but it’s even more rewarding when you try again and succeed.

Do you have an experience similar to mine? Let me know in the comments section.

Published by thekeepingapproach

My new personal development blog focuses on learning, both academically and through our lives every day.

10 thoughts on “How did failing make me a better student?

  1. As a student who started 4 times and only finished 1 masters – this is painfully true. Failure does bring about that ‘right’ type of determination and discipline to do it right ‘this time’.

  2. Well done for sharing this – I totally agree that there is more to be learnt from mistakes and failure! I didn’t fail at uni but it wasn’t what I expected and that had a huge affect on it all!


  3. Yes we all should learn from our previous mistakes, and should deliver our best to the tasks assigned to us. The sooner we understand this the better it is.

  4. I can so relate to this. My freshman year of college was really tough because I was majoring in Biology. It was something my heart wasn’t into nor did i care for. I just majored in it because of pressures from family. It wasn’t until I studied something I really cared about which was journalism and my grades started to improve. Thanks for sharing your story xxx

  5. A master’s is difficult, even if you like the topic that you’re studying (just ask me). It’s great that you went back and completed yours 🙂

    All the best, Michelle (

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