I can’t make the grade

This letter writer wants to become a software developer but just can’t get the marks at college.

Are you sure this is the right career choice for you, asks our elder?


Dear EWC

Hello! I am a student of computer sciences and want to become a software developer. The main problem is that I care a lot about my grades in academics and work hard. But the results in my academics never come up to the mark/according to my expectations, or do not match the time that I gave to my studies. As a result I get depressed every time the result comes. I also started cramming my topics and I’ve tried many other techniques but all in vain and my marks never crossed the mark. This has also reduced my self-confidence and communication in classroom activities; I can’t communicate, especially with girls. And now I have been in a state of depression for the last three months. Please give me some tips to improve myself in academics and communications also.


GranJan replies

The first question I’d have for you is: are your performance expectations realistic? Have you spoken with your teachers about your work, and asked if they think you are doing well enough to succeed in a career as a software developer? In other words, are you a perfectionist, asking more of yourself than is necessary or reasonable?

Next question: why do you want to become a software developer? Do you know, specifically, what a software developer does – how he spends his time at work? And do you enjoy doing that sort of thing? If you are struggling now with the very things you would have to do as a software developer – and it doesn’t sound like you’re enjoying those struggles very much – why would you want to spend your professional life doing the same kind of thing?

So, we have two possibilities here: either you have chosen the right career for yourself, and need to lower your expectations for yourself so that you can relax and enjoy doing what you are already doing well, or you need to re-think your career goals because software development may not be a good fit for you. Which do you think it is?

When you are all tied up in knots about your studies, when you are feeling like a failure and struggling with classes and exercises that seem too difficult, it’s no wonder that your self-confidence is low. You are probably so upset with yourself that you aren’t much fun to be around. 

I think that you need to have a serious conversation with your instructors, and possibly with a career counselor (if such a thing is available to you). You need to find out whether you’re pushing yourself to succeed in a career that will always be difficult and frustrating for you – and, if so, figure out what would be a better set of goals. You need to reassess your criteria for success, and if they are too high, learn to be more realistic, and much less self-critical. 

If you do continue to work toward a career in software development, you may need to find a tutor to help you get past some of the things you now find difficult. I know a bit about programming, and I know how easy it is to let one small mistake, one thing overlooked, undo hours of hard work. Bugs in your code can be really depressing!

Whatever you decide, please realize that what’s happening now is not a predictor of what must happen next month, or next year. You have hit a bump in the road, a bump that may be a very useful signal to stop and take a fresh look at yourself, re-assess your skills and accomplishments. There is a big world out there, full of opportunities; you don’t need to lock yourself into a course of study that’s making you unhappy. Take some time out to breathe, put the books aside, and get to know yourself again.

Be well, and good luck!

Article #: 493641
Category: Self-Improvement

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *