There is Life After Academic Dismissal! An Inspiring Story for the Holidays

As we approach what, for many of us, is the holiday season, we want to share an inspiring success story with you.  The story comes from one of our readers.

We often receive comments on posts or e-mails from both parents and students.  Many of these messages come at a time of difficulty – often around probation or dismissal or other crises.  It is often a time of struggle and uncertainty.  As often as we can, we offer a few words of encouragement or advice, and most of the time we never know what happens.

Here is a portion of one such comment, received in  the summer of 2013 on our post What to Do If Your Student is Academically Dismissed.

“Vicki,

First of all, I really appreciate your responses!  I have learned a lot just by reading them.  I do have a similar issue with being Academically Dismissed.  I was attending school and majoring in Gerontology.  I attained my Associate in Arts degree prior.  I did very well my first 2 semesters, but then some personal tragedies began to unravel my life. . . . Unfortunately, due to my living situation being turned upside down and also my car breaking down and having to buy a new one, school was not feasible.  I stopped attending class because I had to go to work.  I was a mere 20 credits away from my degree. 

I am so disappointed in myself for not going to class, but I can’t help but think that at the time I had no other options . . . I have pretty much given up on returning due largely to the fact that I am in no position to quit my job or go down to part time to accommodate going to campus for class. 

I had so many dreams of going to Grad School and becoming an LCSW (Clinical Social Worker.)  I am the first and only one in my entire family to pursue a college education and this situation has totally disheartened me.  I just don’t know what to do at this point.  I would go to a community college, but I can’t even get financial aid there because I wouldn’t be considered a “degree seeking” student.  I am ready and determined to finish this, though.  It was less than a year ago I was making the Dean’s list and had a decent 3.2 overall GPA.  Now my GPA is down to a dismal 2.4 overall.  Any assistance is greatly appreciated at this point.”

It’s always difficult to respond to stories such as this.  There’s so little that we can suggest.  But we tried to offer some encouragement.

Vicki wrote:

“I am sorry that I cannot offer you any specific advice. Your determination may be your best weapon, but you may need to add patience to that. I would continue to work with the financial aid office and also see whether there is anyone else at the college who can give you advice. Did you establish a good relationship with any of your professors? Alternatively, you may need to take a break and use the time to earn some extra money so that you can attend the community college to boost your grades. Then you can apply for reinstatement. Good luck – and don’t give up!”

Usually, that’s where it ends.

But not this time.  Over 2 years later, we received another comment.  Two years!  This time, the story was different.

Vicki,

I posted on here a long time ago and I just wanted to share my experience since that awful time in college and life I described.  Maybe it would give some insight to others?  Well, I ended up taking about a year off and worked at my full time job and I even got some volunteer work on my resume for a great organization that sends medical equipment around the world to those living in extreme poverty. I could not have made a better decision.  Not only did taking the time off give me more insight into what my goals are, but it allowed me to get motivated again.  I ended up applying to some “safety” schools and some schools I thought might be a bit of a stretch.  Out of all of the schools I applied to I was accepted to all of them. 

Here’s why I think they all gave me a chance: I took the time away from my studies and was able to show admissions that I had learned from my experiences.  I was able to present to them a solid reason why I would be worth the “risk” and that is because I was determined and I wasn’t a quitter.  I wrote a letter to every admissions department even when I wasn’t required and explained in detail how I had moved past that awful time in my life and how I could contribute to their community.

After the acceptance letters came in I was in total shock!  How? Why would they admit ME after my horrible record at my previous college?!  Well, I am very proud to share that I graduated with my B.A. in Social Science with a minor in Gerontology last May.  Now I am taking my own advice and taking another year off before I pursue my Graduate degree.  I just wanted to share my experience so that others here might know that it’s not the end of the world.  There is life after academic dismissal.  Just keep at it and never give up!  Thanks!”

“Thanks” is what we have to say to this reader.  Thanks for sharing your story. We think it’s inspiring.  Many students will never face a situation this difficult, but for those who do, we hope they, and their parents, will be encouraged by this story.

Happy Holidays!

Related Posts:

Academically Dismissed from College?  Time for a Reset

Academically Dismissed from College?  Ten Steps to Move On

Helping Your College Student Avoid “How Do I Tell My Parents?” Fears


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