Why I Failed My 1 Year of College

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I’m going to share something very painful for me. It is something I have lied about, told half truths over and have fudged the truth about as I never wanted to discuss the details. I will say I learned a great deal, I’m just not happy about why I had to learn it.

I failed my freshman year of college. I failed so badly that if I hadn’t left school for all of my reasons outlined below I would have been suspended. As it was I ended up on academic probation in my second semester.

Why? A lot of reasons, so I shall start at the beginning.

1. I picked my college poorly.

I had very little guidance in which school to pick. My grandmother went to college much later than normal (she went back in her 40s), my mother attended community college and most others had military training and little to no college. To top it off I am the eldest of my siblings. There was no one in my life saying “look, here are the important parts and why you need to pick this or that”.

My entire goal was to get decent financial aid and get the hell out of Nebraska and away from the tiny farm town where I attended high school. I had lived in Colorado until I was 14 years old and I am not a small town girl. Living in Nebraska depressed me completely. I just wanted to get away. I applied everywhere I could that had the program I was interested in (Biology with an emphasis in Medical Technology).

The one I landed at I never visited but it gave me the best financial aid package I could muster. Would I have done better applying to any of the University of Nebraska locations? Probably. But I just wanted out of Nebraska and never even applied.

2. I was a big fish in a little pond in high school, quite the opposite in college.

I scored a 32 on my ACTs and I had a 3.76 graduating GPA in a school with a max of 4.0. I was 6th overall and the top 3 were Valedictorians. I rarely studied as I didn’t need to. Everything came easily to me. I never really developed bad study habits, thankfully, I just didn’t do much of it. I was in the Gifted and Advanced Learners program all through school and usually took the more advanced classes with others my level. Even then I excelled.

At college everyone was like me. Sadly for me I picked a school that at the time was a very good school, one of the highest ranked local universities in the country.

I didn’t know what to do with myself my first semester. I just assumed I would get through it just as I always had. I kept assuming even when I was much beyond that point and couldn’t find my way back. I had a very rocky end skidding into Winter Break.

I did manage to start both fresh and strong my second semester. I went to every class, I buckled down studying. I did it all. And I had excellent grades until Spring Break. But by then other factors (see below) came into play and I gave up. I stopped going to class and didn’t turn in anything. I failed every class as a result.

3. I didn’t research my professors and/or have a college mentor/advisor.

Thank god for Rate My Professor now! It wasn’t around then and I was not a good fit with a couple of professors. I just didn’t know that until it was too late. I had picked classes based on the time and subject matter. Big mistake on my part. I flat out failed biology (the intro class for my major!) due to an incompetent professor. I never could figure out what she wanted for answers on her quizzes. It certainly wasn’t the lectures nor was it the book.

And I had no idea what to do for myself in college. I had no one to guide me. You can certainly say I had an advisor. I did, but I had no idea I should have spoken up about being 1st generation. I was embarrassed about that so my school never even knew. I never said a word. That means I bumbled my way through. Poorly I might add. My college boyfriend was in the same boat. At least now I am not afraid to speak up and I have my husband if I have to!

4. I was poor. Very poor.

I was so poor I had to do quite a bit of outside work just to pay tuition even with a full financial aid package with lots of grants and scholarships. Never mind any living expenses and books. My first semester an aunt purchased my books for me, a gift I have always been grateful for. But by my second semester I was so broke I just photocopied sections from a friend and checked out the remainder from the library. And I still needed more resources. I never went anywhere or did anything as I had no money. I had no decorations in my dorm room, save what could be printed from a printer. I had no food even though on the dining plan I was expected to provide 1 dinner for myself a week. I ate 1 package of Ramen as I couldn’t afford anything else. Ultimately, this point is why I dropped out and what I tell everyone. I didn’t have enough money to keep going. Not even to fake it.

Much worse than that was some family issues which resulted in my mother not filling out the FAFSA form. The Pell Grant is the only reason I could attend college. Without it? Not a chance. Spring Break was when I realized it was never going to happen.

Which leads me to my last…

5. I was screwed up emotionally.

I was homesick. Very homesick. And it wasn’t for Nebraska. It was for places I knew, people I knew, family, etc. I have anxiety and it peaked at this time due to these, and many other, factors.

I was super lonely too. I made a few friends but only a few. I felt out of place as I had two separate snotty, rich, roommates neither of which liked me. I lived alone my second semester.

I didn’t think I had anything to offer anyone. As a result I stayed in my dorm room most of the time. The second semester was worse. Especially after Spring Break. So I turned tail and headed home where I got a real job.

Why didn’t I go to college before now?

A number of reasons. Mostly it was not knowing what I wanted a degree in, my working hours interfered with being able to go to class (thank you for online classes!) and I had a shit ex-husband. He took advantage of me, screwed up my credit, cleaned out all savings and in general put me on a path that took years to recover from. I was just about square when the economy bottomed out and I couldn’t afford it on my own. Ultimately, I decided about 2 years ago to go back but didn’t do anything about it until this summer. That’s my anxiety talking I guess.

But now I am going to do my best. I have no other reason not to.

Research & Getting Organized

Research Getting Organized

I am a Pinterest addict. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, right?

Ever since I cinched a coveted invite sometime in 2010 or 2011 (I want to say it was just before Christmas 2010 – I was pinning wedding things and I wasn’t even engaged yet!), I have spent an extraordinary amount of time doing nothing more than perusing that which someone, somewhere, thinks is cool. Like all things in life you must wade through a great deal of garbage to find anything of value. Gigantic shock there, right? But there are gems. And it seems easier to find them on Pinterest than anywhere else. Google search anyone?!

Lately my guilty pleasure of a time waster is all about finding paper planner organization tips as well as study and college tips. The last time I was in school I used Mead single subject notebooks to take notes. Needless to say with the prevalence of laptops and iPads and the like note taking has evolved. Heck I take notes in meetings at work with my iPad so I’m not delusional about it in the slightest.

And digital textbooks you can rent?! Textbooks on Amazon for cheap? Fantastic! I still can recall the $150 biology book I had to purchase new (no used available) and was only able to resell for $20. This was 1999 I might add, so $215 and $28 in 2014 respectfully. What a joke.

Everything has changed and I am rusty. And it has been interesting reading about it from the eyes of traditional-aged college students. They have such fascinating ideas for things I never considered, not at their age and not now as an old lady of 33. The very reason I love the internet and what it is capable of! They don’t call me the Google Queen at work for nothing (and yes, they really do call me the Google Queen – I Google anything I want to know more about)!

But researching study and note taking tips was a natural side-trip from researching paper planners. I know myself well enough to know that I need one once more. I used one for years and years once upon a time; a smart phone “cured” me of that. But 2 school courses plus bills plus a multitude of other things (like truly sucking at grocery shopping and blowing more money than necessary) has enlightened me to the fact that I fail at using my iPhone as a planner and need to start carrying a paper version. Besides I like the slight “scrapbook”-like quality that results when you pour your entire life into a dead tree planner. It is definitely much easier to keep track of when something happened, where, etc.

So I did a lot of Pinterest research (and YouTube video watching) to figure out what paper planner would work best for me. One benefit of attending school later than the norm, I won’t waste money on things I don’t need or want and I know exactly what works best for me.

My first inclination, of course, was an Erin Condren planner. So much has been written or videoed about this planner that I won’t add any addition commentary. I love the pretty colors, the layouts, the ability to snap things into it without it being a binder (I hate binder planners; Filofax was eliminated immediately). But I truly hated the additional modules I would never use on each page and the day schedule layout. I don’t organize my day on morning, afternoon and night. I’m a list maker and would rather it just come in a way that works for me without a lot of additional add-ons needed. The large size certainly didn’t help.

Incidentally, my list making is what stopped me from picking up an Arc Notebook as well. I love the disks but I didn’t want to spend $50 and print out my own agenda pages (I dislike their daily layouts as well). I wanted it clean but colorful, simple, and easy.

It was then that I stumbled upon Personal Planner. Colorful layouts you design and it comes packaged neatly in a spiral notebook? Sign me up. I was able to design it exactly the way I wanted. Total win.

I found loads of reviews for them, just not very many good ones. It looks like they peppered the lifestyle/mommy/organization bloggers to get the word out about themselves a few months back. Too bad I read and/or saw very few objective, complete, reviews unlike with Erin Condren (who has done the same thing). So be it.

Regardless, my planner will be arriving later this week. Hopefully…I ordered it 2 weeks ago and it takes a bit of time to custom print and receive. I’m planning on doing a full video review then. I have Vlogged so rarely that I might as well do one.

Until then it’s back to Pinterest for a bit more organization porn!

Witnessing Life From the Sidelines

While I was setting this blog up and adding all the bits and pieces that make it functional and interesting I took the time to update my Goodreads book selections. I get totally lazy about updating it and have to catch up. In my defense I only read a book every few days at best and so updating slips my mind.

Originally I had challenged myself to reading 52 books, 1 a week, for 2014. Sometime around March I discovered that that was not going to happen. I naturally like the 800 page books and I just can’t read 52 of those. I am a fast reader but that ‘s a bit too much. So I have altered my goal down to 40. So last night I checked on my status of where I was in the challenge and update the ones I had read. I’m 2 behind in case anyone cares.

Instead I was hit by something I had not anticipated. I encountered the reading goal/challenge for the year of an internet & Facebook friend. She hasn’t read any books towards her goal of 25. Instead I am reading daily updates of her husband’s on her Facebook page. She is currently losing her battle against cancer and is in hospice. She will never read another book.

Nothing hits you like that information will. And witnessing this from the internet sidelines has been painful. I can only imagine what those that love her and care about her most must be going through. I have lost lots of loved ones for various reasons but no one I have personally known passed slowly like this.

So here’s to the thought that life moves on, that everything keeps happening and you must embrace what you have today. You may not have a tomorrow.

That is why I am writing, that is why I am doing. I have had enough of the sidelines to last me my lifetime.

Back To Finish My Degree

I am in both an unusual and yet totally normal spot in life.

I am going back to college at the ripe “old” age of 33.

I have finally decided that my piss poor 1 year of college (which I half failed I might add) is not enough. Not anymore. My resume is very sorry-looking!

And so last week I took the first steps into becoming a college student once again. I did rather well on my placement testing, except for math (Algebra was much too long ago). I placed nearly perfectly (1 question missed I’m sure!) on reading and just a bit less on grammar. At least I have educated English skills!

And so I registered for English Comp 1 as well as Information Systems & Literacy (basically an intro to computers course required as a prerequisite). At this time, excepting a change of opinion due to course load and the like, I am going back for an Information Technology degree with an emphasis on Web Development. I am attending online courses, at least for this quarter, at my local community college with the idea to transfer to a 4-year in the future. Perhaps. I’d like to focus on the Associates for now.

I’m ever so slightly scared. I am ever so slightly worried. I won’t lie. This is going to be an adventure. Care to come with me?