The Truth in Learning from Failure


The Maroon-News Staff thanks the seniors for their time and dedication over the past four years and wishes them well in life after Colgate.

When I first started writing for The Maroon-News, I was out of my element. I was full of excitement and misplaced confidence, but lacked the experience to back it up. Not only had I never written for a newspaper before, I had never read an issue of The Maroon-News, nor understood what was going on in the articles I wrote. In fact, until the end of my first year, I was accidentally writing for two sections of the newspaper (Arts & Features and News) without realizing it. I would receive an article assignment from mysterious email accounts, attend the event they assigned me and scrap together quotations and information into what resembled an article.

On the first Thursday I picked up a newspaper that included one of my articles, I was shocked to see mine on the front page. I was even more surprised, and a bit disappointed, to see that my article had been significantly altered from its original form. The introduction I had crafted had been stripped of its originality and replaced with straightforward information. The variety of ways I credited speakers with their quotations had been changed to the format of “this person said.” I didn’t understand what I had done wrong but I decided then that I would make it my goal to get an article published that did not require any significant editing.

On my journey to achieving this goal, I quickly learned that The Maroon-News has a style guide that ensures all articles follow the same set of rules to promote standardization and best practices. As arbitrary as the rules first seemed, such as the strict omission of the Oxford comma and the mandatory inclusion of a person’s full title upon their first mention in an article, over the past three and a half years on the newspaper I have come to see their value. Ultimately, I did write articles that were published with minimal editing. The initial disappointment I felt upon seeing my first published article has transformed into pride for every article I have written or contributed to that has been included in The Maroon-News

In many ways, the “learning from failure” paradigm has been the most prominent one throughout my time at Colgate. After I did not get PE credit for a dance class I took all semester because I forgot to record all the hours, I made a schedule to make sure I logged and received all the credits I needed. After I needed to drop Introduction to Calculus because I lacked interest in the subject and the conceptual capacity to succeed, I committed myself to better recognizing my strengths and taking classes that aligned with my passions. As disappointing as it is to hear, I think the best advice I could give to an underclassman would be to continue to put yourself out there and endure failure. For me, failing has been the biggest proponent to pushing me toward success during my time at Colgate. I’m excited and nervous for the next chapter of my life, but if the worst part of it entails failure, I know I’ll come out better for it.

Contact Elizabeth Hein at [email protected].