Otherwise, you need to identify whether this information is really important and negative, or if it is only important and negative in your own subjective eyes.
- Everything in the world can be explained using positive language or negative language. Choose the positive track. Avoid words that convey negativity, like: failure, shame, loser, blame, difficulty, fault. Instead, use: learning experience, challenge, responsibility, independence, lesson, improvement, growth.
- Indicate positive change. Show that you understood the source of the problem, learned from it, implemented what you learned and used it to grow and improve. It can work to your advantage that you have improved. Use this experience as an honor, rather than a source of shame. It shows your self-awareness, diligence, and drive towards continuous improvement. For example, “My first year grades were a wake-up call for me. I decided to learn to prioritize my goals, and to focus on what was important for my future. This approach was reflected already in my second semester grades. This also taught me that improvement is always possible, a lesson I am implementing now as a TA. I believe my students now benefit from the learning experience I had.”
- Don’t come across as insecure, judgmental, whiny, or disrespectful. People want positive people near them. Positive people also have bad experiences. But they view them positively.
- Never say anything bad about anybody. Even if you are correct. Don’t criticize. Don’t make excuses. Don’t blame. Don’t bad-mouth anything or anyone else on your application. Ever.
- Show excellence and balance in other academic fronts to overcome any negative information.