One of the great suprises I've realised in the couple years I've kept a blog is that my blog receives literally hundred of hits from folks looking into info about what to do if you flunk out of college. And because I'm sure I've permanently broken the links to the other site of my blog, I'm having to go back manually and repost pertainent posts from that site. With that said, please excuse what may appear to be unrelated posts showing up on my blog.
So this post is a repost talking about my expereince with having flunked out of college:
In the process of filling out my AMCAS application, I’m thinking back to what was going on in my head each semester I dug myself into the academic hole that finally lead to my flunking out of college. It actually all started my first semester when despite having taking Calculus in high school, I managed to get a “D” in Algebra and Trig. I thought my enrollment into the class would be a review, in preparation for my future enrollment in Calculus 1. The first mistake I made was taking this class in six weeks, which quite frankly was done out of pure arrogance. The second was in taking such a heavy load over a 6 week summer session instead of just taking it easy by taking just one course, like the Salutatorian of my high school who also went to College with me had done.
The following semester, I earned another “D” in Asian Humanities, a course I had an “A” average going into the final exam. I remember my advisor telling me first of all not to take Latin this Fall but of course, I took it anyway since as a premed, I thought it was best for me to take a competitive load of courses. Of course, that only works if you’re doing WELL in those courses. Anyway, my father was distraught reminding me that I was ONLY at UF which wasn’t anywhere near as competitive as Berkeley where he and my mother had graduated. I was distraught by my parents lack of support, but I continued on.
Now the following Spring is the semester where I should have followed my advisers advice, and taken a REAL light load to get both my GPA and confidence up. Well I didn’t and I earned 2 more ”D’s”, this time in General Chemistry and Calculus 1. By now my advisor had given up because it was obvious I wasn’t listening to him. But what happened next, changed my perspective in my abilities and thus my performance in school for 5 LONG YEARS!!!!!! I went to see my Chem prof about my grade and when he entered the system, he saw my other grades too. He then remarked with a comment that I thought about EVERY time I took an exam and that was “well, I guess you’ll never be a Scientist or Doctor” and my response was to nervously laugh and say, “I guess not” (obviously I hadn’t learned to stand up for myself, but hey, I was only 19 years old).
Unfortunately, I can actually still play this conversation in my mind, however given that I’ve been a Scientist for years now, I don’t think about it unless I’m retelling this story. And obviously it hasn’t affected my success, in fact I think it made me a bit of an over achiever in some regard. When I was awarded my BS in Chemistry 8 years later, I thought of him. When I was awarded my MS in Chemistry, I not only thought of him, but went to see him diploma in hand, when I returned to this school to visit a friend. However, when I got there, I learned that he had died a very painful and miserable death from colon cancer at the age of 53, and to be honest, I felt absolutely NO SYMPATHY for this man. I was well aware of the many other minority and female premeds who had been so discouraged by this man that to my knowledge, I’m one of only a handful that kept pressing on in science majors.
1 year after my fateful meeting with the Chem prof in my Sophomore year, I was expelled from college as a Microbiology/Premed major. I was humiliated for a ton of reasons including the fact that I had lost my scholarships and on a more personal level, I had been runner up for Most Likely to Succeed in high school. My parents offered me NO HELP at all, and I was forced to get a full-time job and a place of my own. So what did I do? I got a job working in a lab, where I did VERY well. After a year at the local CC, I was readmitted on probation and had to maintain a 3.0 until I graduated. Now the committee thought they were setting a standard I could never achieve since I hadn’t done better than a 2.3 for the ENTIRE time I was enrolled. Of course I did it and while working sometimes full-time too. However, instead of leaving with my double major in Religion and Microbiology, I finished the Religion degree 1 semester before I would have finished Micro. But by this time, I was so thoroughly burned out with this Southern school, that I had had enough. I did however, leave with a minor in Microbiology, so all was not completely lost.
Having said all that, I think the moral of my story is to:
1) Get a good advisor and LISTEN TO THEIR ADVICE (emphasis on the words GOOD advisor).
2) Get the scoop on Profs especially those in your major, before you sign up for class. Me and every other minority and/or female premed should have just avoided this guy since it was so easy to do. Of course, you can’t always do that, and I’ll speak to that in a future post.
3) Be sure to surround yourself with people who aren’t slackers. After my best friend died during my first few years in college, I wasn’t left with much in the way of friends and the of the ones I had, not one of us was doing well in school.
4) If you find yourself in a hostile learning environment, by all means TRANSFER!!! I knew this school had a terrible attrition rate when it came to minorities (and STILL does), but I enrolled anyway. BAD IDEA!! Go to a school where you’ll be supported.
5) If your parents won’t support you (and mine were brutal during this time) find an adult who will.
6) After 2 semesters of poor performance in school, withdraw for a semester to get your head together. Losing one semester won’t be the end of the world although at 18 and 19 years old, it’s hard not to think this way.
7) Finally, by all means DON’T GIVE UP!!! Failure is a certainty if you don’t try!