My first essay at Lancaster University

By Sagarika (Student Blogger: MSc Human Resource Management)

Student typing on a laptop








Do the words ‘ESSAY’, ‘SUBMISSIONS’ and ‘GRADES’ scare you? Some might say ‘Oh no!’ but for some it might be ‘Ah, a piece of cake’.

For the first essay I had to submit, I honestly had mixed feelings. I think I was well versed with what the question was asking me to do and how I was going to structure my essay. I was confident on what I wanted to put forth and how I would convey my analysis on it. In my opinion, the essay turned out well and I was happy that I gave it my best.


Of course, I had after thoughts and dilemmas once I’d submitted the essay. I’m sure you guys have also gone through such a phase at some point in your life. But I was trying to calm down and compose myself thinking – “it was fine, you did what you had to do to the best of your ability and now all you can hope for is the result to be positive”.


And just like that time passed by keeping my thoughts engaged in other classes and modules. But Ta Da! Our professor told us that the results would be out next week, which resumed my stress.


We had our class feedback one day before our results came-up. And this scared all of us a bit more than we already were. Have you ever experienced this feeling when people were talking in general, but it felt like everything was being pointed at you? Ah yes! That’s what I felt sitting in the class with my classmates hearing the general feedback. Every flaw seemed like it was mine, everything that could go wrong sounded like my essay.


Oh, but wait, the result hasn’t even come yet

. So I had to put my stress and tension aside. I was trying to hope for the best result and hoping tomorrow would be a good day.


Finally, the RESULTS DAY had arrived. And BOOM! The result was in no comparison to my expectation. Oh wait, you must be thinking it was something more than what I was expecting, right? Naah. I wish it was that. But NO, it was completely disappointing to me. I have always been a A/B slider in all my academic life and now I was nowhere compared to it. Stress, anxiety, depression, tension, frustration, irritation was all that I was feeling.

It took me to time to accept that this is my score, and it is not where I wanted it to be. I needed to work hard to make sure I improved for next time. I tried to reach out to few of my class mates for help and I also accessed the Learning Development team for more insights on how I could make my essay writing bett



Things change, life changes. It is not what you always expect. For a high flying student like me, it was a shock. But what really matters, is how you overcome the challenging times. How you try to improve yourself to get back to being your best. And right now, that is what I’m working on.

I know many of you might have faced this or may panic after reading my story. But hey! It’s me not you! You may be totally shocked by your result in a positive way, but if you are facing what I am, let me tell you there’s always help and scope for improvement. I know you might be disheartened like I am. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Work on it and you will achieve it.

Dealing with setbacks

By Will (Student Blogger: BSc Hons Entrepreneurship and Management)

I sit here writing this blog on receipt of one of my more favourable grades from a module I simply adore. The story just a week ago however was very different, with one of my most trusted suppliers to one of the enterprises I set up during my university studies expressing their desire to terminate our contract. Setbacks come in all shapes and sizes, however our approach to them should be steadfast in every situation and involve encountering them with pragmaticism and unquenchable optimism.

Sometimes it seems unfair that we receive a certain underwhelming grade on work that we were only co contributor to, or oppositely sole contributor to while following all the advice provided. From the wise words of a fourth year who has seen his fair share of As and Es respectively, I can guarantee you that the perfect streak of 100% on your interactive script does not exist. For that I am glad, as an education with no hiccups or revelations of incorrect practises is no education at all.

Many of us lose sight that University is specifically designed for mistakes to be discovered and imperfect methods practised, without worry of their effect on the ‘real world’. Mess-ups will happen to us all, that I will happily bet my life on. How we individually choose to handle them and utilise the experience sets innovative ground breakers apart from static onlookers.

My first point of advice is to remain humble, this is a necessity that many of us lose sight of due to our advantageous position at a top university. Setbacks happen to all of us. As an entrepreneur they happen almost hourly to myself. My academia and privileges do not and will never stop this happening. The same is true for all of us, no matter how big, how successful or how established. An appreciation that setbacks could be around the corner and your openness in accepting that is key. It allows you a stable head to deal with the eventual hiccup, whatever it happens to be.

Having recognised the inevitability of setbacks and accepted that they will regularly occur to each of us, the question remains of what to do next. My second piece of advice is to use setbacks as a learning opportunity. There is no benefit in repeating the same mistakes, so ensure that any new setback is the only time it happens. As we all appreciate, learning is best done on our own terms, with some of us preferring to relive the actions as interactively as possible, with others mind mapping from ideation to execution. Whatever way works best for you is the way I would promote, but remember this, life is not fair and never will be. What I mean by this is that there is no benefit in blaming the situation for your setbacks, passing the learning from this event off as unnecessary due to ‘external’ factors. You will never find a completely harmonious situation in which all the stars align, it is foolish therefore to believe that your performance is never in need of improvement.

It is important to appraise your performance realistically, appreciating that 100% effort was not perhaps afforded to a certain piece work, or recognising that you maybe did not have enough references. It may be frustrating to initially admit, but true reflection on one’s actions is an essential step in mitigating their reoccurrence. The only person who benefits from setback remediation is the person who is undertaking it, you will only get out what you put in. Sitting and complaining of life’s infinite unfairness will not benefit anyone, the proactiveness to act on your weaknesses will allow for setbacks to become strengths.

The struggle is real

By Manuella (Student blogger: Economics and International Relations)

I have often heard the saying the struggle is real, then I begin to wonder; “the struggle is real, so what?” “What are you going to do about the struggle?” “How are you adapting to the struggle?” “Is it making you stronger?” “Or have you given up?” I guess these questions overwhelm us all, especially in this recent pandemic. As human beings, we evolve best by adapting to situations- so it’s no surprise that online learning has become the next best thing for us students. Nevertheless, I hope I can confidently say that, it has been a struggle for us all. It is quite intriguing to know that, this is not only the case for us students but for all stakeholders in our Universities. That being said, I am going to write five simple ways in which the struggle has been real for most, if not all of us.

  1. The Struggle to learn

Let’s cast our minds to a time before COVID-19, we all miss that period, but we could all agree that sometimes learning was a struggle then. It was the time we had to choose between social gatherings and staying in to burn the midnight candle. Now, so far gone, we are in a time when staying in is the best option. Yet, we can all admit that doing other things before study time has become the new dilemma. How do you pick an hour of full time learning over a new Netflix release? Or would you prefer a TikTok video to research work? All the same, it has been a struggle, and trust me, you’re not the only one going through it. I guess this is where discipline overrides being reluctant. You may not be alone, but you definitely could find other ways to make it work. So yes, the struggle is real, but you are able.

  1. The struggle to stay motivated

Motivation is another thing I do not frankly understand, especially motivational speakers. How can they be so sure that what they did will work for everyone? It is not a one-size-fits-all life, because we are all different in our own way and we see and react to things quite differently too. So the subject of motivation is a personal one, however, you have to (MUST) figure out what keeps you going. Obviously it ranges from a variety of things so I cannot tell you what they are specifically. I will however give you this thought; for a second, imagine having all your goals accomplished, the joy and satisfaction of it all- and simply run with that feeling all year round. Trust me, it works. So yes, the struggle is real, but you are stronger.

  1. The Struggle to be efficient

Efficiency could mean anything from organization, productivity, to just mastering a skill. Honestly, it is okay to just stay alive and have some form of routine. It doesn’t have to be perfect. As far as uni work goes, just divide the work load into mini tasks, so you can accomplish them slowly. Little drops of water do make a mighty ocean. So yes, the struggle is real, but you are trying

  1. The struggle for a functional environment

A functional environment is simply a good vibes only environment, one in which you can actively function for being human. It is an environment in which you can have good and bad days. Lazy days and productive ones. And frankly, they seem like bare necessities (jungle book song in mind), but it is sometimes a struggle to find. So in all you do make sure you find good vibes; it makes this whole “new normal” thing easy going. So yes, the struggle is real, but your vibes are good.

  1. The struggle to be supported

A support system is healthy for us all, and could take any shape or form. Personally, I have found that having friends or acquaintances who can relate to you is a perfect balance especially for academic work. What this does is that in the end, these people in your support bubble are there for you, and as humans that is essentially what we need. So strive to have a support group. I have a group of people I go to, from goal setting, and for laughs and it is the best combination of accountability and a social life. So yes, the struggle is real but so are the people around you.


All in all, this Uni thing is hard, and adulting is no joke too. So cut yourself some slack. You are trying to survive a pandemic and gain an education. You are doing just fine. Take a break when you have to, and keep your goals in that same mind space. You will be just fine. So yes, the struggle is real, but so are you.

Professional failing

by Jeto (Student Blogger: BSc Psychology (Lancaster University Ghana)

Fail as many times as possible! You should get used to the concept of failing. Failing is something you can’t avoid. There is no need for me to remind you of great minds such as Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein who are famous for making many mistakes and failing terribly before eventually succeeding. These are stories we’ve heard before. No matter how smart or careful we might be, we are all going to fail. We either fail at something or we fail to do something. So get used to the concept of failing, just as you’ve got used to breathing, because failing is the prerequisite for success.

This is the hard truth I have had to learn for the most part of my life and I am going to tell you how to become a professional at failing.

I don’t know if you can relate to this, but every time I wrote an exam, my parents would always ask me how the exam had been and I would say “fine”. But every time it came to the end of the term, I was always scared out of my mind because I thought I’d perform badly – and I always did, every single time. I would get woeful results, then always tell myself that it was the last time, that I would make sure I put in my best and do better the next year, but that never happened. All through my primary and secondary school, it was normal for me to fail. In fact, at one point I was no longer worrying about whether or not I failed, but how badly I failed.

However, after I left secondary school, there was a turn around. All of a sudden I was no longer worrying about how badly I failed but rather how well I passed. I went from being at the very bottom of the class to being at the very top, not because my classmates were not very smart, but because I became better at learning. I went from struggling to be a C student to being an A student, from the class jester to the class representative and president of the Psychology Association in Lancaster University Ghana – all of which happened because I came to one realization: failing isn’t the same thing as failure. Failing is a journey towards success, while failure is a destination at the opposite end of success. Failing is when you keep trying until you succeed, while failure is when you quit after failing. So this is my advice:

  • Never mistake failing for failure.
  • Never be scared to fail, because it’s the only way to succeed.
  • Never give up. Keep failing until you succeed.
  • Finally, get used to the concept of failing but don’t get comfortable failing. Never forget that the goal is to succeed!


This is how to become a professional at failing – until you succeed.


Failure is cool…

by Kofi (Student Blogger: BA Law (Lancaster University Ghana) 

The general perception of failure is negative. Why not? We are accustomed to attaching a negative connotation to it and it’s just not glamorous. When we think failure, we think of shame and humiliation. What will my friends think of me? Will anyone spot or make me out in the re-sit examination hall? These thoughts rush through our minds and leave us feeling low with defeat and hopelessness. I know this because I’ve faced it too and from time to time still experience it. Hey, I never said I was perfect.

We tend to focus more on the negative aspect of failure than the positive – but it doesn’t have to be that way! That’s why I thought I’d share my approach on how to deal with failure in school, be it coursework submission or an examination paper:

Breathe. The first step is to breathe. It’s not the end of the world, relax. Don’t beat yourself up. Take your mind off it by doing something that makes you happy and sane. My go-to in this case is my music. I have a playlist for every occasion and at this time my ‘YOU CAN DO IT’ playlist comes in handy. I listen to my music and it empowers and assures me that I’m more than a failure and sometimes you just have to lose to win again. This is not you trying to forget the failure but rather just a temporary escape to ease your mind. Again, as Jay Z puts it: ‘You learn more in failure than you ever do in success’.

Inquire and note what went wrong. Lecturers are not there to fail us purposely and the belief that they delight in dishing out F grades is inaccurate. However, if the quality of work submitted is not up to standard, they will have to give you what you deserve, which is better than they misleading you with a good grade. Once you talk to the lecturer about it and understand why you got a bad grade, you’ll never repeat the same mistakes again because you understand now. This is often the most difficult part of the post-failure process, because it requires you to look your failure in the face and note your mistakes.

Learn from the experience. Every experience is a learning curve whether pleasant or not. Reflection after failing is vital. Ask yourself critical questions like: Why did I fail? What went wrong? Did I start revising too late? Did I really understand what was taught in class? Answering these questions gives you insight to the way forward for you. Reflecting on the experience gives you the ins and outs of the situation. It also helps you take steps to avoid making the same mistakes. For instance, in the case of it being a bad grade in an examination, you just have to step up and change the prepping routine you used before; for example, you can start preparing for exams 6 weeks prior to it.

Above is how I normally deal with failure. The more I encounter failure, the more I learn, grow and improve. This doesn’t mean we should plan and settle for failure. Basically, all I’m trying to say is when you invest time and effort into assignments and the grade that follows is unexpected, it should be a learning experience. ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade’!


Failure is NOT the end of the world

by Melissa (Student Blogger: MA English Literature)

Understanding One Another

Everyone constitutes failure differently. For one person, failure could be sleeping through an exam. For another, it could be missing their expected grade by a half a mark. We all recognise what failure means for ourselves, but it can be hard to stay focused on what matters to us as individuals, especially when working near others in an academically competitive environment.

If you are the type of person for whom missing your expected grade is a sign of an impending apocalypse, you might struggle to understand why your flatmate is shrugging off their own disappointment with a night on the town. Vice versa, if you are the optimistic type who is confident that you can right these wrongs in the next assessment (so why panic about missing the mark now, you got this!), you might be getting a little frustrated with your flatmate down the hall who is sobbing over their ‘Not-An-A’.

This post is about coming to understand how others define failure, and what we can do to help each other overcome our frustrations.

Firstly, we need to accept the past. It happened. You messed up and it hurts to think about it, we have all been there. But what happens next? We can take one of two options here, option one is to bury our memories of the experience and never think about it again. Option two (the preferred option) is to swallow the embarrassment and take a good hard look at what went wrong and revise those issues for next time, thus improving our chances at future success.

Sometimes, it might have been a case of ‘why’ did this go wrong rather than ‘what’. Everyone has bad days and distracting emotions can sneakily turn our hard work against us. I personally struggle with maintaining the correct levels of criticism towards my work if I am experiencing a bad day or week; It can be hard to quantify the importance of perfect academic formatting if I know my family are having problems back home. Our personal lives may occasionally obstruct the path to success and that is understandable, but it is not acceptable to account every failure to the goings on in the world around you. You have direct input in your work and it is important to work hard to minimise the effects of the unexpected (such as personal or family illness) affecting your studies. This includes being aware of the opportunities you have to seek help when lightning does strike, such as extensions on essays and counselling, and knowing when to use these tools.

My Story

It can be hard to get back up again following a bout of failure, trust me, I know. It has been no less than five years since I took my first (and only) driving test which I failed irreparably. Irrelevant of the expected shame that holds hands with any failure, the test turned into a rather harrowing experience when my examiner decided to turn part of his reasoning as to why he had failed me as explained by my ‘lack of wanting to drive’, amongst other comments, which was ridiculous. I wanted to succeed in my driving test so I could take a break from my lessons which had been going for a year. I would not have sunk my savings into all those lessons hand I not wanted to succeed in my test. I would not have aced my theory if I didn’t want to drive.

My examiner took my test as an opportunity to belittle someone who needed his approval, to make a personal attack on my feelings and aspirations as opposed to staying professional and factual in his position. Honestly? I have always had a fear of driving (or being driven) down hills following a recurring nightmare from when I was little. My attempt to learn to master that fear and take so many lessons had been difficult, but positive. I entered that car feeling determined, a year of practise behind me.

I left it knock-kneed and shaking, some older man sat in the passenger seat smirking.

And we have all had an experience such as this one, an experience which goes above and beyond your average failing. One which was originally a couple of mistakes you understand and can rectify (check wing mirrors more often, drive slower) turned personal nightmare. And no, this is not a case of sore loser syndrome. I’ve cried over Cs, swallowed those tears, moved on, got help and improved. Social tactics gone wrong when I’ve said the wrong thing and offended someone, it happens, we get over it together. I dropped a whole roast dinner on the floor last year and I am glad to say that my fiancé didn’t take the opportunity to tell me, ‘I don’t think you even wanted to eat roast dinner in the first place.’

I don’t appreciate when someone misuses their power to make themselves feel strong at the expense of others, it is unprofessional, childish, and only serves to hurt people, as opposed to giving them the best chance to improve.I haven’t driven since, and I see this itself as a failure because I have allowed that one experience to get the better of me. I am taking actions to rectify it this summer by taking new lessons, but I’ll always struggle to forgive those examiners who take their students failing personally and angrily, as it not conducive to our progression as a society.

Stay strong!

We can help each other to overcome failure by being supportive during times of hardship. This can be as little as offering to make your flatmate a brew if they’re working hard, or listening to their troubles if you know they are struggling. If you are in the same course, it can be useful to compare your work post-grading so you can learn not only from your own academic failures, but those of others too. By sharing our stories we can improve together.


Failure: What will be, will be.

by Anna (Student Blogger: BA Hons French and Linguistics)

Let’s be honest: it’s normal to fail. It’s not only normal, it’s common. How we choose to come back from failure is the true demonstration of our character. The important thing is to pick yourself back up, dust yourself off and carry on. To tell the truth, you automatically fail at something if you did not even give it a go in the first place. Better to fail, learn and grow than never venture out of your personal status quo.

When it comes to university, we take failure pretty hard. The majority of us are overachievers, with earth-shattering dreams and incredible career plans. Not doing as well all you had hoped on an assignment is one thing but compared with failing an exam, it’s relatively miniscule. Take it from someone who has had to resit a university exam. It can either be a well-needed kick up the backside, or a bit of a blow to your pride. Nevertheless, just be grateful for the possibility of even resitting. Make the most of it and shine. You are going to pass this time and prove to yourself why you deserve to be at university. Second chances can be silver linings.

To really counteract any fear of failure, there’s only one thing to do: face the challenge head on, whatever it may be. Throw yourself in the deep end. But do so purposefully. You will gain more respect from others and from yourself for trying and for having given it your best shot. Once you’ve experienced failure, you become a well-oiled machine, much more prepared for hard work and ready to put all your effort in. Que sera, sera, as they say.


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