Did you get good grades in school?

Q&A With Shay Each Sunday

Most people might think that when you choose a career that is basically like having homework everyday for the rest of your life that you’d probably like school, and excel at it. Let’s debunk that a bit this week.

Q: Did you get good grades in school/did you enjoy school?

A: Short answer would be, not really. I like learning, especially about specific topics, and I’m always interested in learning as much as I can about writing. Some subjects I just don’t get though, or find them incredibly boring. For one, as you might suspect being that I’m an English person, I am absolutely horrible at math. Like, I’m pretty sure there’s no one worse at math than me. I won’t tell you some of my math grades in college, being forced to take it as a core requirement, because it’s way too embarrassing. I did below average on the math portion of the SAT, and that was after a lot of SAT prep. I did, however, come close to perfect in the writing portion (which they’ve since gotten rid of once again).

In high school, I got about average grades. I wasn’t all that motivated. It was during the time where I was focusing a lot on tennis and figured that would be my key to a good college (which it was) but not the best approach. For my senior year of high school I lived at a tennis academy in Florida where I only took a couple online classes to finish out my requirements. This was another horrible idea because that basically meant I spent classroom time on aim (later Facebook) and playing Snood. Remember Snood?? So, when it was time to be a freshman in college, I got terrible grades. I was so underprepared. Especially trying to juggle tennis, academics, social life, and being incredibly tired all the time.

I only got above a 3.0 GPA in one semester of my whole college experience. I would do really well in some classes but there would always be at least one class per semester that I didn’t excel at, bringing down my whole GPA. The best thing about this though was that to enter an MFA program they look at your writing samples before your GPA or GRE (also took that, it didn’t go well). I didn’t have many writing samples at that point, but it was always the part of school I loved most, when you could create without the pressure of tests and being graded and having to memorize information you aren’t interested in.

I didn’t declare my major in English until I had to, which was at the end of sophomore year. I actually thought about majoring in business until then, which is now quite hilarious. I spent a few minutes thinking I’d be practical—glad I chose otherwise. The best class I took in college was creative writing with a very inspiring teacher. They didn’t offer many actual writing classes at Tulane, so I spent a lot of time reading and writing about the classics.

Then, moving onto Sarah Lawrence where it was all creative writing—that’s the kind of school classes I can get onboard with. Other than the pressure of speaking in class, writing and not really being graded or ever having to take tests is so much more up my alley. So, even though I wasn’t always the best student, didn’t get great grades in all my classes, can hardly add or subtract at a second grade level, I do like to learn and grow. We all have our own strengths and interests and when we can realize what they are and embrace it, that’s a great thing.