Even though I had planned to complete college in four years, I’ve come to accept that I learn differently from the traditional college student.
by Rebeka Covell
Sometimes, things don’t turn out the way I planned. I planned to go back to college in September as a junior in the Civil Engineering program. As it turns out, that’s not how it worked out.
I wasn’t exactly a star student at my college in the first place. My freshman year I didn’t tell anyone that I had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). I just took my Ritalin, went to class, and tried to blend in with the other students. This philosophy seemed to work OK, and I ended my freshman year with mostly C’s and B’s.
My second year, everything changed. The classes got harder, I got more overwhelmed, I was staying up at all hours of the night doing homework, and even when I wasn’t working I couldn’t sleep because of anxiety about classes. Finally, halfway through my second semester sophomore year, I went to the disability services counselor for help. I needed to go through more testing by a psychiatrist on campus and lots of paperwork; but she was able to arrange for extra testing time on my exams for the remainder of the semester.
However, I came to find out that not all teachers were forced to accommodate me, and the math department (where I was failing Calculus for the second time) refused me any extra time on exams. In my other classes, the time-and-a-half helped, but it was probably too little too late, and I was put on academic probation after last semester.
Then, I found out that my school was raising tuition, and the government loans weren’t going to come through for the fall semester. Also, they put me on financial aid probation, saying that because I was not going to complete my degree in 4 years; my financial aid would be cut. I panicked. As it was, last semester had left a bad taste in my mouth about that school, and I was thinking of transferring to somewhere more accommodating, and less stressful.
It took just about all the courage I could muster, but I asked my boss about possibly staying at the company, and doing an internship during the fall semester, while I looked to transfer schools. He said they would be glad to have me, which was just about the biggest relief of my life.
As it stands now, I’m officially on a leave of absence from college, for one semester. I’m going to look into transferring for the spring semester, because the thought of going to those classes again is enough to make me nauseous with fear.
Even though I had planned to complete my schooling in four years, I’m not too upset to discover this is not possible. I’ve come to accept that I learn differently than the traditional college student, and just because it takes me a little longer doesn’t mean I can’t be just as successful. I just need to find a school that is willing to accommodate me and help me accomplish my goals, and not shut me out because it takes me longer.