Grit & Greatness

Jess Hassell poses outside of Bunce.

This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Wellness Center. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @RowanUWellness on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Jess Hassell poses for a photo outside of Bunce.Meet Jessica Hassell, a second-year Higher Education Administration graduate student from Owings Mills, Md. Jess wrote this article to help the Rowan community. She shares: “Fear can be paralyzing. I was inspired to write this article because I was so worried about success that it was stopping me from being my best self. I hope that this article will help other Rowan University students not be afraid to fail and to persevere.”

Failure is a scary word. In the collegiate environment, failure is associated with under-achievement, incompetence or a lack of trying. As college students, there is a tendency to get stuck in the dichotomy of success or failure. This manner of thinking can result in every nonsuccess: raising stress levels, being demotivating, or even debilitating (Shelton, 2017). Therefore, students must reorient their thinking to understand each “failure” as a growth experience.  

When success is determined by grades, deadlines, expectations and a long list of involvements, it is difficult for college students to manage coursework, jobs, clubs and a social life with health and emotional well-being. If an individual finds themselves incapacitated by a nonsuccess, employing mindfulness can help manage the stresses being experienced (Shelton, 2017). Having an awareness of oneself, challenges and support systems can cultivate an internal shift wherein growth from failure is acceptable.  

Jess Hassell speaks to another Healthy Campus Initiatives intern on Rowan BoulevardThat being said, there exists no person who sets out to undertake a task and enjoys it when their efforts lead to a lack of success. The result of an unexpected outcome can leave individuals questioning their abilities, but this should not be the case. Mistakes or unexpected outcomes are necessary for experimentation, problem-solving and increasing efficiency (Driscoll, 1989; Shelton, 2017). As such, it can be helpful to remember that success is only the expected or desired outcome. Understanding what does not work can only help when developing strategies to inform future courses of action. Without unexpected results, there is no push for innovation, so the opportunity to fail should be embraced (Driscoll, 1989).  

Grit is a better word. To have grit means to have the courage and ability to overcome obstacles and challenges. Recognizing one’s capacity for psychological grit, wherein an individual has the passion and perseverance to achieve their long-term goals, can ease the stress of a failure (Duckworth, Peterson, Matthews, & Kelly, 2007; Vonderheyde, 2017).  Moreover, each nonsuccess and subsequent attempt to continue teach us a greater lesson about our capacity to persevere.  

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Story by:
Jessica Hassell, second-year higher education administration graduate student, Wellness Center intern

Photography by:
Alyssa Bauer, senior public relations major


Driscoll, D. (1989). The Benefits Of Failure. Sales and Marketing Management, 141(5), 46. Retrieved from

Duckworth, A. L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M. D., & Kelly, D. R. (2007). Grit: Perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(6), 1087–1101.

Muenks, K., Wigfield, A., Yang, J. S., & O’Neal, C. R. (2017). How true is grit? assessing its relations to high school and college students’ personality characteristics, self-regulation, engagement, and achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 109(5), 599-620. doi:

Shelton, I. G., Jr. (2017). A generic qualitative investigation of academic stress in college students in the 21st century (Order No. 10608475). Available from ProQuest Central; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global; Social Science Premium Collection. (1947584353). Retrieved from

Vonderheyde, E. (2017). The relationship between mindfulness and stress among college students.