Fail Better: Tim Bono

The first time Tim Bono wanted to drop out of Washington University in St. Louis, he was a month into his freshman year.

“I was totally in over my head,” recalled Bono, now assistant dean for assessment and analytics, and a lecturer in psychological & brain sciences in Arts & Sciences. “I believed that the admissions office made a mistake, that I wasn’t smart enough to be here.”

Bono already had started to request transfer applications from other universities when he showed up in tears at the officer of his adviser, longtime dean Henry Biggs. They agreed Bono should drop his advanced calculus class and add instead an introductory social sciences class — more in line with his natural interests. But, more importantly, Biggs told Bono that struggle was a good thing.

“He said, ‘Don’t let yourself get too comfortable because that’s when you stop growing,’ ” Bono recalled. “That gave me the shift in perspective that I needed. The work didn’t get easier, but when I encountered difficulty, I knew I needed to take a different approach, not run away.”

Read more at The Source. 

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