On all the first days of school, I was nervous. From Pre-school to Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 7th, Freshman, my Senior year, and believe it or not even in college. There is this crazy overwhelming feeling I, and I’m sure many other students get when going to school. It’s usually not the regular nervous butterflies that I feel, it’s more like my nerves are turning into ropes and tying themselves into tight knots. School is so terrifying to me, there must be an endless list of things that can go wrong at school, especially in the beginning. Students like me often fear failure and begin to doubt themselves, students like me find ourselves in situations where we tend to feel too nervous to ask questions, too nervous to speak in general. Those feelings may seem like they’ll go away once you get the hang of going to school but for me, those feelings multiplied when I went to college.
Around my Junior and Senior year, I started to hear a lot more about college. “Are you going to college? What are you majoring in? Are you going to a four-year university?” All those questions about college, I never knew what to respond, my answers were always different. And of course, they put my mind to work, I started to feel nervous but I would tell myself “oh it’s okay I have time to think about this”. This was going to be tough, it was huge deal because I would be the first one in my family to attend college. Which put even more pressure on me because I would make sure to succeed, I wouldn’t be able to slack off, this was a big deal.
Graduation came sooner than I thought it would, life was flying by and going to college was stuck in the back of my mind. I spent the summer pondering about what I even wanted to be, my High School grades and the type of student that I always was, I wasn’t a troublemaker but my grades were never the highest. My highest GPA in High School was a 2.8 and the lowest 2.0, I maintained a 2.0 because I played softball from Freshman to Junior year, and my Senior year, I didn’t slack too much because the importance of graduating. The summer passed by fast, it was now time for me to enroll, I chose to enroll at Mt. San Jacinto Community College. With the help of my best friend, she showed me the main steps I should take to enroll, it sounded easy, turns out it was harder than that. I struggled so much but I wanted so badly to be an adult and do it on my own, I didn’t want to ask anyone for anymore help.
It took me two weeks to figure out how to enroll and to go take the placement test which I had studied and prepared for. My results for Language Arts was the lowest, Beginning Writing and I didn’t even score high enough for them to know where I should be placed in Math-this was such an embarrassment. A week later, I went back to retake my math placement test and scored for Elementary Algebra. Because I took so long to figure things out, the classes I needed were full, and I had no idea how the waitlist worked. The open options for me were Child Development and Life and Career Guidance only 6 units, and I still felt overwhelmed, but I still had some bits of confidence that it would be easy for me, two classes should be nothing, right?
The semester started with more syllabi, which I didn’t completely understand I didn’t know the future assignments were on there, I didn’t know how much information was on the syllabus, one of my first mistakes. I stayed on top of my work for the most part in the beginning. I tried to stay positive as well, I knew I had to focus really hard and continue doing all of my work, in Child Development we were given way more work than I thought. About ten weeks into the eighteen-week semester I began to lose track of routine and my mind. I wasn’t organized, I wasn’t staying focused on school, I had become distracted by things outside of school which was not a good thing, I tried not to let things get so overwhelming but I felt like after a while I lost control of things. I found myself in a toxic relationship, it had brought me down and it made me lack confidence in succeeding in college, I already felt overwhelmed on being a good student. I had become the slacker that I didn’t want to be.
At this point I thought my life was falling apart, I stopped going to class, I ended up failing Child Development and the easiest class ever Life and Career Guidance. How could I fail such easy classes? I stressed myself out more because I failed knowing how big of a deal it was for me to not fail. Because I was giving up on everything I didn’t want to go back to college until I got my mind right and figured things out. I never opened up to anyone about my failure, my transcripts came in the mail and my parents saw and I got chewed up for failing, which I had already done to myself but I accepted it because I expect it from my parents. The small two-week break between Fall and Spring semester I did some thinking, I thought I had stored up enough courage to go back and try again for the Spring.
The Spring semester rolls around and I enrolled in 9 units this time, I prepared for this again. Enrolling was still as difficult as it was last time, this time I figured it out all on my own, but I knew I learned absolutely nothing from doing it before. The semester began with more syllabi, I was wrong about being prepared this time, it felt like the first semester never ended and I was just in new classes, my mind was closed and I wasn’t thinking academics, no books, no studying, no learning, more mistakes of mine. I was still having troubles figuring out what I wanted to major in so I felt even more worthless, like what was I doing there, wasting my time? Another semester wasted, I lasted throughout the whole semester up until the last two weeks, I stopped going again due to anxiety and I didn’t want to be around so many people, I tried to get good with my professors through the semester so when I was staying home I would email them and try to explain my situation, thinking maybe I’ll email all of my work to them but they couldn’t help me work anything out.
I couldn’t try anymore, college was too overwhelming for me as I was dealing with mental health issues, but I wanted to be successful so badly, I couldn’t give up just like that. Fall 2016 semester which I didn’t attend, I had actually been put on Academic Probation, another thing I really wasn’t aware of. This time of year I had gotten really sick so I was in and out of the hospital, it was my time to give myself some real thoughts into a career I could be passionate about. I was getting inspired by the nurses and doctors, my mom and I talked about Physical Therapy, which has always stayed in the back of my mind but I would always switch between a Photographer to a Marine Biologist, to just a regular Biologist, to a Florist, Web Designer, Director, all of these things, I was all over the place. A lot of thinking was going on; I was all over the place with ideas but I was a lot more focused this time I could tell.
Time for Spring 2016, I thought of it as a fresh start after taking the last semester off, and of course enrolling was still difficult for me and I waited until last minute again, but I knew this time would be different, in a good way. This time I asked for help from a counselor and I made friends to study with, I’m so glad that I asked for help because I received it, everyone was so helpful and it made college a little easier, there are students out there like me that need to seek help with college courses. It seems like everything may be easy, but in reality without help it can feel like everything goes wrong, you end up getting stuck, and there is a chance you can give up or at least feel like giving up. This semester I wasn’t going to give up, I took English 92, Life and Career Guidance, Intercultural Communication, and Political Science, I was ready to take on these classes. My English class was a 5 unit and our professor made it known that it was going to be a lot of hard work that we must be prepared for, she even asked us how many other classes we are taking because this class was going to consume our lives for the next 18 weeks. This scared me so much in the beginning, so I ended up dropping the Political Science course and Intercultural Communication. I wasn’t happy with those decisions of mine but I really wanted this semester to be easy with me, the English class really ended up consuming my life but I enjoyed it, and Guidance was so easy, my counselor was my teacher and she was amazing! I passed both courses and I am proud of myself for all of my hard work, I didn’t miss any assignments and I participated well in those classes. But to me, the most important part of all of this was my attitude, I was strong and confident! I knew my outlook on school changed for the better.
This was the start of something wonderful, I was finally becoming the successful student that I’ve always hoped to be. I wanted to continue doing good and keeping my mind on the right path so I transferred schools, to a better campus with more opportunity, now I am taking 13 units and I am taking classes that are going to benefit me for my career I would like to pursue, and I am feeling very confident and passionate about being a successful student. Between all of this time failing and wanting to be a good student I have learned so much about myself and the college experience that I have had, I learned many do’s and don’ts, and I am still learning more and more. Now I know you must be prepared for everything, expect the unexpected, get the books the professor mentions in the syllabus, keep the syllabus and actually take the time to read through it, there are so many things that I failed to do in the beginning that I now know to not ever do those things again if I want to be successful. I love my experience with college and I am proud of myself for not giving up, I have known many people that betrayed their college educations and I have been doubted by many, including my own self. My progress and growth in education is a big deal and it will be a huge deal when I finally finish and receive my degrees.