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Dealing with Personal Issues in High School | #WeBelongInCollege Stories

Last updated March 5, 2020

Some of us have to cope with difficult personal circumstances that make applying to college much more stressful. Hear from students who have had to cope with difficult personal challenges while pursuing their college dreams. 

Luis’s #WeBelongInCollege Story

Luis’ parents’ divorce hit him hard and when he had trouble passing his AP Chemistry class, he started to question if he belonged in college. Soon after, when Luis found a therapeutic outlet, everything changed.

Balwant’s #WeBelongInCollege Story

When her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, Balwant took on the responsibility of taking care of her younger siblings. She found it hard to focus on the college process when all that mattered was her mom’s recovery but her parents encouraged her to continue to pursue her college dreams. 

David’s #WeBelongInCollege Story

Problems at home bleed into problems at school when David couldn’t even get himself to go to class. When he started to fail classes, he questioned whether he belonged in college. Looking back, he is so grateful that he didn’t give up because it turned out that going to college was exactly what he needed.

Nicolette’s #WeBelongInCollege Story

The college process itself can create so much anxiety. When you are the first in your family to apply and you are balancing school, sports, and a job, it can get even more stressful. In her story, Nicolette explains how she coped with all of these.

Catherine’s #WeBelongInCollege Story

Catherine was so focused on caring for her dad during her senior year that she came close to deciding to not apply to college. She realized that the last thing he would ever want was for her to give up on her future - and that no matter what she was dealing with right now, she belongs in college.

Gregory’s #WeBelongInCollege Story

Throughout high school, Gregory found it hard to focus as much as he wants to on sports and academics. This is because of the many family obligations he has. He has always helped care for his four siblings and his family has had to move around quite a bit. To top it off, the college process was one more thing to focus on, but he realized that “just because the process is hard doesn’t mean that you don’t belong.”

Michelles’s #WeBelongInCollege Story

I always thought that college wasn’t going to be for me. I was so certain that since my academics in high school weren’t the best, I would fail at college. I figured, “why even try?” I was making decisions about my future out of fear, self-doubt, and insecurity. Even though I knew my failures in high school were due to my emotional state, I could not be sure that I wouldn't face the same emotional challenges in college. I didn’t have the motivation to even try.

To give you the back story, in high school, my father was suffering from kidney failure. He was on dialysis, constantly in and out of the hospital, and doing everything he could to fight for his life. He even flat-lined a couple of times, and they were fortunately able to resuscitate him. He was my best friend, and the thought of losing him shook my world. Alongside him being sick, I was being severely bullied at school. My school and home life were not conducive to academic success. I became more concerned with surviving than getting good grades. I was in such a dark place that I felt I wouldn’t make it past the age of 18, let alone enter college and get a degree.

If it wasn’t for my mother constantly encouraging me and telling me that she knew I was capable, I would’ve just found an alternative life path. However, I applied for a community college and got accepted. My mom told me to take baby steps, to give the best I could given my emotional state. She wasn't hard on me, she was understanding, and knew that in time I would develop confidence in my abilities.

When I initially started at the community college, I was still working through my inner demons and wasn't performing my best. I didn't know myself; I just knew my pain. I let my pain define me. Community college allowed me to find myself and explore what I did and didn’t like. I had a total of 5 major changes before I landed upon teaching. I found out I had a passion to help children. The moment I found my passion, my grades even started improving, I applied myself more, and my life changed.

I went from a student who had to retake basic courses to a student that got straight A’s and was constantly on the Dean’s list. For anyone who may find themselves in a situation where they feel they are incapable of succeeding at college, or that they don’t even know themselves because they have endured a life of difficult circumstances. I recommend going to community college first. It allows you the opportunity to find yourself, build yourself up, and learn all the things you probably didn’t in high school. From community college, I worked my way to the university. It felt like I had a world of opportunity at my hands!

Once I was at university, my passions only grew! I pursued my dream to work with kids, got experience in the field, maintained a high academic standing, got into 3 honor societies, and graduated Magna Cum Laude. I never in a million years thought I would get this far, especially knowing that I had no aspirations when I initially entered college.

I used to only live to SURVIVE, and college makes me feel like I’m LIVING. I’m not just existing, I’m growing, progressing, and changing. College gives me the knowledge to be able to make a difference. That is why I pursued graduate school. Even if you feel you can't succeed, even if you feel you have the world against you, it is important to know YOU CAN DO IT. I fortuitously had my mother's profound faith in me that pushed me to make the best decision of my life. I'm now addicted to learning and always find myself going back to college to learn more. Your story does not define you. We are all capable of success, it just takes persistence. WE BELONG IN COLLEGE! 

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