How to Cope When You Get Bad Grades In A Creative Degree

A 52/100 really stings when you could have sworn you created the Mona Lisa.

This is a sweeping generalization, but I think it’s fair to say that everyone who studies anything creative studies it because they love it. No graphic designer or filmmaker went out and did a whole soul crushing degree because they couldn’t get into law and wanted to have an incredibly unstable future.

So, what the fuck do you do when you create something beautiful and totally genius only to get a 52/100? Hysterically cry while eating fistfuls of grated cheese? Shave your head Britney style? Attack your lecturer’s office window with your MacBook? All are good. But coping like a real person is better. Here’s how to avoid the hectic crush to your self-esteem.

Separate Yourself From Your Art

OK, I know. Your character design is your flawless baby. Your tutor doesn’t understand. Your entire worth as a human lies in the layout of this one marketing folio and if this fails you might as well consider yourself a fundamentally terrible sack of human disappointment.

Not to be a dick, but this could be the start of your problem. Once your assignment is finished, consider it a product. You wouldn’t cry if no one bought your charity Freddos off you, so apply the same basic principle. A uni piece I poured my heart and soul into got nominated at a tiny festival in North Dakota for the Best Worst Film Award once, and it fucking sucked. But since it was a product, rather than my literal insides, I could deal with it, and continue to make truly cooked short films.

Remember That You’re In A Subjective Field

My knee-jerk response to anything lower than a HD and a footnote about how gifted I am, was that my lecturer was a fuckwit who didn’t know greatness if I punched him in his stupid face.

Obviously, this isn’t the healthiest way to live your life. Anything creative is entirely subjective, and one lecturer hating on your sweet baby-child doesn’t mean you should drop out and work in a box factory. We know this, but tend to ignore it anyway.

My favourite thing to do when my abstract avant-garde short was given a 62 is to google famous people’s failures, like how many times JK Rowling was rejected. Also probably not healthy, but hey, it works.

Accept That You Can Always Improve

This is for suuuure the hardest thing to do in the entire world. Yes, your raw talent is your birthright that will develop on its own, and yes, I can happily assume without looking anything up that all my idols didn’t have to study film and television at uni to write a screenplay. But that barely-a-pass on your latest assignment could probably use a tweaking. Ace Ventura (Pet Detective) could even use a tweaking, and that is the single greatest piece of cinema our generation will ever see.

Maybe your deeply hidden message was only glaringly obvious to you, and next time you could say the same thing with fewer words. Maybe what’s popular on Tumblr is actually awful. Growing is exciting, and Nick Park originally put a tiny mouth on Wallace (it’s so fucked, look it up), and now he’s straight ballin’.

At the end of the day, we study these hive-inducing degrees because we love our art, and we reckon we’re pretty good at it. Stopping yourself from egging your lecturer’s house with mascara tracks down your face is a good feeling. Not as good as actually doing it, but hey – we live in a heavily surveillanced world.

Pasha is a Film and Television Animation student at Swinburne University of Technology. She spends most of her time playing with plasticine in the dark and can be found on Instagram at @pashrashy.

(Lead image: 30 Rock/NBC)