How I Saved My Drowning College Career

How I Saved My Drowning College Career

I made a complete 180 in less than a year, and here's how.

How on Earth did I make a complete 180 in less than a year? If you’re reading this, you’re probably desperate or nearly there. I raised my college career from the dead and so can you. Here’s how it went down:

No one likes to talk about how they’re doing in college unless they’ve got a 4.0 and they’re kicking ass in every way possible. I am not that person. I never was, but that doesn’t mean I couldn't be.


By the end of my freshman year at the University of Florida, I had done so terribly that I lost all of my Bright Futures scholarship (for you out-of-staters, Bright Futures is a scholarship that a large majority of Florida student are eligible for – you only really need a name and a pulse to get funding) and an additional grant from the University valued at about $1000 per semester.

That was the first time in my life I’d ever failed a class – not one, but two classes at the same time. I also withdrew from another course because I was flunking that one, too. Not only did I lose all of my scholarship money and more, but I earned looming disappoint from my family and a nearly-failing GPA, which made me ineligible for many scholarships, student jobs and any club I wanted to join. It’s not like I was too busy – I wasn’t involved, and I certainly didn’t have a job of any kind.

Fast forward to the start of my junior year - I’m crushing my classes. I’m pumped about my major and updating my resume is one of my favorite things to do. My GPA also now qualifies for the grad program I have an eye on, I have leadership positions with multiple student organizations, and I'm doing a really exciting internship. On top of all that, I just started my own company and I’m working on putting together a new club at school.


STEP 1: Realize something’s wrong and address the problem.


Admit to yourself that everything you’re doing sucks. It’s ok – it happens, and you can only go up from here. Whenever I went home to visit my family, my dad noticed that I would dodge any questions about school, which he knew meant my grades were trash. I was in denial because I graduated Summa Cum Laude from the IB Program in high school and my GPA never fell below a 3.7.

As a college freshman, I was on that ‘I’m such a freakin' genius because I’m at a University’ high horse – so I thought I was doing just fine. The problem wasn’t boys, drugs, or parties – I was just plain lazy. I just didn’t realize it until my dad showed me the math behind my GPA.


STEP 2: Realize what’s at stake and get pissed.


When your GPA is too embarrassing to say out loud, many doors will shut in your face. You lose funding and other scholarship opportunities, a chance at internships/student jobs and you won’t qualify for many graduate programs. My parents were starting to think college just wasn’t for me and were ready to bring me home because I wasn’t smart enough.

Everyone around me was doing awesome and making their parents proud, but I wasn't. That hurts. Quitting school wasn't an option -- I knew I was meant to be here, so something definitely needed to change. Earning my degree means so much to me and allowing my parents to think that I’m too dumb for school sounded like a nightmare, especially as their first child to go to college. You care more about something when you know what you have to lose.


STEP 3: Set long-term goals.

You’re a twenty-something now, and you probably have no idea what you’ll be doing later in life. And that's ok. You may not know for certain where you'll be, but I'm sure you have dreams or goals that you want to achieve. What are they? What lifestyle do see for yourself in five years? Ten? For me, I’d want to settle down and have a family after I’m financially stable and I’ve had a successful career. Get specific.

Do you wear a suit, scrubs, or a T-shirt and jeans to work? Do you work for someone else or are you the boss? How much do you want to make a year? Figuring what you want can help you do your research and sort out what steps you have to take to get there. It doesn't have to be set in stone, but having a goal to work toward is incredibly motivating, even on the days you don't want to get out of bed.


STEP 4: Set short-term goals.

Now that you have a long-term goal to work toward, move backward from finish to start. Trace those steps all the way back to what you’re doing right now and ask yourself what you could be doing differently. You want to be an engineer? It’s a Wednesday night, you have a physics exam in a few days and you need an "A- " to keep a "B" in the class.

I don’t care if it’s Ladies Night, put that beer down and get to the library. Outline what needs to get done in order to move from one step to the next. For me, my GPA needed to pick up. In order to get my GPA back up to qualify for scholarships again, I needed an A/B average. That means actually studying for tests several days in advance and not waiting until the day of to start my assignments.


STEP 5: Get organized and start a routine.

The best habit I’ve picked up in college is putting all deadlines for all my classes on the same calendar every month, as well as any other important dates or events. I even like to color code. It sounds like common sense, but sticking with it religiously can really make a difference. The next thing you know, you’re on top of all your classes because you didn’t get blind-sided by deadlines or pop quizzes.


STEP 6: Do what you have to do.



Now that you know what you need to do and what you will lose if you don’t, swallow your pride and do what you gotta do. Even if it means you have to stay at the library until 5 a.m. or do homework while everyone else is out partying, you’ll do it because you know it will be worth it and what the consequences will be if you don’t. Buckle down and get it done.

My "comeback" year was defined by my lack of sleep, frequent colds and a shrinking circle of friends. It sounds miserable, but I had "A’s," extra credit, homemade study guides and resume builders to show for it. One thing that definitely helps is making to-do lists every day. Even if you don’t finish all of them, just crossing off a few still shows that you did more than sit around like you were doing before.


STEP 7: Don’t stay too comfortable...

Once you’ve been hitting the books hard for a while, you may start to feel comfortable. Once you do, go back to your calendar and look at the holes. What could you be doing in that free time? Try getting involved with a club that sparks your interest, apply for an internship, join an intramural team or anything that employs your talents. Even if it has nothing to do with your major, look for any opportunities just to remind yourself that the college experience should be more than just sitting at the library or getting plastered every weekend.


STEP 8: ...But know your limits.

Once I started to feel comfortable with how my grades were looking, I started to branch out a little more. I started looking for internships and got involved with a few clubs and student publications, but all at once. I was trying so hard to compensate for everything I didn't do in the past and I ended up running myself into the ground. I hardly slept, I got sick often and I stretched myself out way too thin. It's great to look for new things to do and branch out, but know your limits and remember to keep some free time for yourself.


STEP 9: Don't forget to let loose from time to time.

I'm not saying you should barricade yourself in the library every chance you get. Just do it when you know you need it. Busting your ass in college is only temporary. You just need to hold it together long enough to where you aren't sucking anymore and you aren't being crushed by looming disappointment anymore. Be proud of yourself and the work you've done. Spend time with your friends. Sleep that extra hour. It's ok. You dug yourself into a hole and you have the power to get yourself back out.

Cover Image Credit: Photo by Ashley Williams

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This Was My First Semester At Rider

Man did it fly by.

After months of thinking about what college was going to be like, it is crazy that in the blink of the eye you finish 1 semester. I spent all summer wondering if I would enjoy college or if would absolutely hate it, but after a wonderful 3 1/2 months, I learned to love it.

College is exciting, and its new and can sometimes be overwhelming but once you adjust, it's a blast. I quickly adjusted to living away from home and give myself props for never being homesick. I do have to say the times I did go home were for food( dining hall stinks), because I was sick, and to see my boyfriend.

I also quickly adjusted to my classes. I'm not sure if I just got lucky with a good first semester of classes, but the 15 credits were not as bad as I was expecting. All of my professors were nice, understanding and, helpful with only a few downsides. I am proud of myself for doing well and earning the grades I did.

Life away from home can be challenging and when you don't have your family or friends around you it can be difficult. I do appreciate the times I went home and the times I saw my friends. But, I also appreciate the weekends I stayed and enjoyed my college experience.

To all the seniors out there waiting for it to be over, I do have to say enjoy it. You only get so long to be a kid and then everything changes.

Thanks Rider for an amazing first semester, bring on the next one.

Cover Image Credit: Samantha Pucci

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Don't Tell Me Whether Or Not I Want Kids

It's ignorant, it's presumptive, and mostly, it's rude.

I try to avoid the topic of children as much as possible with people because half the time, I'm looked at as if I'm some heartless witch for saying I'm not really fond of them.

There's no rhyme or reason as to why I feel this way. I've grown up in a kid friendly home, I'm not an only child, and my extended family is littered with children of all ages. But for me, kids are annoying and I don't like them. I don't want them.

When I say kids are annoying and I don't like them, I just mean the idea of them. That doesn't mean I can't like certain kids. All my younger cousins are hysterical, fun, active little munchkins that I could hang out with all day. I can meet a newborn and appreciate the beauty that this little baby brings into the world. I can "ooh" and "ahh" at all the little yawns they let out, the button nose they might have, or the way they cry when they want something. I can see a kid in a commercial and think, "Damn, what a cute kid!"

But would I want one of my own? As in, do I wish to have a daughter or son?

No.

I don't really understand why that's such a hard concept for some people to accept. You tell them you're not interested in having kids and all of a sudden you're a demon. You're delusional. You're not a real woman.

I get this response quite often. Mostly - no, especially – from women! I'm expected to take on this motherly persona in which I burst into tears at the sight of a three month old wearing a cute outfit or when I see a four year old make a funny face. I'm expected to feel the inherent desire to coddle someone when they cry. I have to want kids because if I don't, what am I going to do later in life?

The truth is, I don't feel that pang in my heart that makes me excited to start a family. I don't day dream about what my kids names will be. I don't have baby fever. I don't know if I ever will.

All I know is that I'm 22 years old right now. I have graduated college. I have gained merits from organizations and professors. I have friends who I like to spend time with. I have had my fair share of failed and successful relationships. I continue to strive for the best for me at this current time.

I plan on going to graduate school. I plan on starting my career. I plan on marrying someday, not any time soon. I plan on traveling like no other. I plan on eating new foods, drinking new wines, exploring new activities. I plan on getting a kick-ass apartment or house in the city of my dreams. I plan on spending my days doing what I want, when I want. I don't see what's so wrong with that.

Besides, whether or not I want a kid is irrelevant. I know this because notice in the paragraph above, the main concept is "me, me, me."

I am obviously not ready to even entertain the idea of a kid, let alone am I ready for an actual tiny human at any time. Why? Because I am selfish.

Selfish has been made to be such a dirty word. Of course, in the traditional sense, selfish isn't a good thing to be. But in this case, I think my selfishness is justified because it's my life, my body, and my choice. I'm young! I want to do what I want to do and then when I feel I've done it all, I'll think about kids.

Who knows? When I'm 30, I could very well change my mind. I could decide out of the blue to birth 7 of those monsters, but who are you to tell me "Oh, you'll change your mind" when I tell you that I'm not interested in having kids?

How can I give life to something when I can hardly remind myself to eat breakfast in the morning? What reason would I have behind having a child when I can't afford one? Why would I want a kid when more often than not, I don't even know what I want to do with my free time? I'm young. I change my mind at the drop of a hat. That's what I'm supposed to do. Why would anyone expect me to know when I want to get married, have kids, or settle down?

"You won't feel fulfilled."

"What about your family?"

"What will you do with your life if you don't have kids?"

"If you wait too long, you'll be sorry. The biological clock is ticking!"

If you feel the need to say any of these phrases to anyone ever, just pause for a second and think about how your comments will affect the person you're speaking to. No two people are the same and if someone says they don't want to have kids, then maybe it's for the best that you two agree to disagree on the topic.

And again, who knows what the future holds? I could change my mind. Or I could not.

I could save all my money and live a kick-ass life with my future husband, family, and friends. I could eat all the sushi and soft cheese I want. I could drink all the wine I want. I could work out the way I want. I could travel where I want. I could work where and as much as I want. I could own as many pets as I want. I could do whatever I want.

A life of complete freedom. Now that would be fulfilling.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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