4 Stages Of Retaking A Subject

From Academic Withdrawal to HD.

In second semester last year, I realised that even though census date had passed, I wasn’t on track to earn a P for two of my subjects. So what did I do? I dropped them. That meant I only had my Asian studies elective to redeem myself during that semester. Except I didn’t.

You see, an essay worth 40 per cent was due, and I only got the intro done. What’s worse, it was already past deadline. I gave up and decided to defer, with a couple of weeks left to go. In the end, I received an academic withdrawal. For all three of them. Dun dun dun.

In second semester this year, I took up said elective again. “You’re kidding, right?” you say. Well, I kid you not, I genuinely liked the subject, despite what had happened. As to how I went this time, you’re about to find out.

These are the four stages of retaking a subject.

Stage One: Dread

“I have to go through all this? Again?!” I said as I sussed out the course outline on Moodle. The assessments were the same, as were most of the readings and the lecture slides — which brings me to my next thing: I went to the lectures.

Yes, I could’ve stayed at home and listened to the recordings online. However, I would’ve spent more time going on breaks than actual note-taking. And yes, there were times when I told myself, “I KNOW THIS ALREADY!” Then again, I used that to my advantage: I was familiar with the course material, the others weren’t.

Stage Two: Panic

When the lecturer I had last year walked in, my thought train went from, “I hope the lecturer doesn’t recognise me” to, “What if the lecturer does? Will she ask why I dropped it?” to, “OMG THE LECTURER IS STARING AT ME. DOES THAT MEAN SHE KNOWS I DID THE SUBJECT LAST YEAR?!”

Maybe she did, maybe she didn’t. Retaking a subject was something I knew and what I think the lecturer knew, while everyone else was Ross in this iconic Friends scene.

Stage Three: Determination

I knew what went wrong the first time I did the elective. Everything was fine right until it was time to work on the essay. Spending ample time writing and rewriting the intro before I struggled to write the body was one problem, but it wasn’t the only one. The other problem was, I tried to chart everything that happened during the changing participation and representation of Asian people in Australian television since the ‘90s. From the Lim family in Neighbours to Lee Lin Chin’s Gold Logie nom? In 1500-2000 words? “Impossible,” I thought.

This time, I narrowed the focus of my essay question to look at said changes in scripted dramas and reality competition shows. I also created an essay outline and drafted the body first. Result? The assignment was done almost a week before deadline. Huzzah!

Stage Four: Relief

I left the final class test feeling confident with how I went. I was done with the subject for good, and even better, I got to the tail end of second semester this time.

The real treat, though, did not occur when I added the marks altogether. And boom! There it was. What was an academic withdrawal last year was now a high distinction. I finally redeemed myself this time.

Ryan Bautista is an Arts (Media, Culture and Technology) student at the University of New South Wales. Don’t @ him but pineapple belongs on pizza.

(Lead image: Ronny Chieng: International Student/ABC)