My college experience has not been the most typical of most college students. (Although, whose to say what the typical college experience really is anymore? I think it’s constantly changing, anyway…)
I barely graduated high school with a 2.05 GPA. I took some time off after graduating high school and worked part time at a local shopping center. I’d always hated school, so I liked the freedom of not worrying about due dates for homework assignments and stressing over low scores. Somewhere along the way though, I wanted to go back to school and finish my degree. (I’ll have my AA this summer!)
I wanted a fresh new start in a new town where no one knew me. I applied to a school a few hours away, and in a few months time I was enrolled and moved into the dorms. That first semester I did well. I never missed class unless I absolutely had to, and even did my best to finish homework early. The second semester, however, I found myself skipping classes and beginning to slack off on assignments. I wasn’t happy being there, and was eager to leave, to go elsewhere. I wasn’t exactly sure where though.
So I took another few years off, to decide what I really wanted. I worked here and there, and once I finally saved up a bit of money, applied to the local community college. I didn’t want to have to move to a new town again, and I figured it’d been long enough that no one would know me at this school. (I was right about that..)
I have a 3.5 GPA at school that is only creeping upwards, and I am proud of that. But I can’t say that I did it all on my own. If it weren’t for the professors I have had, along with my friends, I would have given up on that success long ago.
One of the first classes I had to take when returning to college was Developmental Math 1. I struggled, greatly, with order of operations, PEMDAS. It was when I was attempting to work out a solution to one particular problem at a friends house that it was evident my multiplication skills were a little below par. My friend’s mom offered the suggestion of emailing me a multiplication table to practice everyday, to the point I could answer problems like 4 x 8 = 32 in less than 2 minutes. I began doing it every morning for the next month, until finals came around. Final grades came out and I, surprisingly, passed the course with an A when I was only expecting a B!
The next semester, I enrolled in a special mathematics course sequence offered at Valencia called Statway. The first semester course is called Developmental Mathematics for Statistical Understanding, followed by Statistics the second semester. The first day of class, I was terrified. There was an expectation that we would work in groups on a regular basis and I never had much success with working in groups in the past. While waiting for permission to go into the classroom, I decided to forget about worrying about getting along with everyone in the class, and introduced my self to two other students standing nearby in the hallway. One of the two became one of my best friends for the next couple of semesters. We were both Psychology majors and joked about going to the same school, though I’d be a semester behind since he was graduating that semester. He and our other group mate helped make the work in Statway much more fun. I didn’t really get to know them until the end of the first semester, right before the second semester of Statway, though. Before then, the course was made fun and interesting, at least to me, with the help of our professor. He often told jokes in class and would encourage us to keep going even if we hadn’t done as well as we would’ve like on a quiz or exam. I can only think of a few times I felt that I really needed his help with any homework, and even though I was scared to ask, my two group mates were awesome at pushing me to get over it and ask for the help I needed. I think I was scared he was going to yell at me, or think I was stupid or something for needing help with what now seem like such simple problems. By the time the end of the second semester rolled out, I was still a little scared of asking questions but not as much as the first semester. My friends didn’t have to encourage me to get over that fear as much the second semester, and at the end of the Statway program, our professor took us out for CiCi’s Pizza. Neither of my friends were able to go to CiCi’s with the rest of the class and our professor, but I decided to go since it was probably going to be the last time I got to be around this amazing professor. (It wasn’t.) After that I started emailing him, telling him how I was doing in biology, a required science course for my major. I wasn’t doing well, which surprised him since I’d excelled at everything in his course. He encouraged me though, even after I ended up failing the subject. He was the first and only person to say that it’s okay to need to retake a course. That definitely helped me feel less worthless after I spent a day or two disappointed at failing. I continued to communicate with him through email the following semester, and even managed to visit him during his office hours just to say hello. In October, I told him I’d started driving lessons with my future ex-boyfriend. He chuckled when we both realized I’d be taking my driving test and getting my license on Halloween of 2013. (I just realized the 13 part…that’s kind of cool!) I feel he’s still a professor I feel that I can talk to about whatever, whether it’s through email or visiting him during his office hours. Another plus about this professor? He’s in a band and they’re actually quite good at what they do. Here’s a link to one of their performances: