Thursday, March 22, 2007

Not Everyone, Not Me (Part 2)

For what it's worth, you professors are not the only ones that are sick of all the partying, drinking, and anything-but-studying activities in which college students are endlessly engaged. My first three semesters of college (and my senior year of high school prior to that) were spent in complete agony. I tried my best (emphasis on "my best" - it was the best I could do at the time) to do the work and learn the material. It was torture because I knew that regardless of how hard I tried I was in over my head. I knew it on the first day of classes.

From friends in high school, I realized that I spent double the amount of time on work than those in the Advanced Placement courses. My younger brother has severe dyslexia. My parents got him tested in elementary school because he couldn't read. When my mom talked to the doctor she thought that a lot of the ways in which dyslexia manifests were similar to traits I had. By that time, I was in sixth grade. I had scored in the highest bracket on my fourth- and fifth-grade end-of-grade tests. The doctor told my mom that anyone who scores that high on end-of-grade tests didn't need to be tested for a learning disability. Even still my mom thought I had too many of the "symptoms" of dyslexia for me to have gotten off scot-free. She was right, but that didn't do me any good. Despite my parents telling me I had a learning disability in hopes of easing my frustration at how long it took me to do my work, I still felt incompetent and like I just needed to try harder.

I flunked out of school in my sophomore year. I took on-line course and summer school and was able to get back into college. Back in regular courses, I began to flunk tests even though I knew the material. I just couldn't finish. Not until then was I finally tested for a learning disability. I was diagnosed and started receiving services through the campus Learning Disability Services. They installed a program on my computer that reads my texts out loud to me to help keep me focused and ease the tediousness of reading and trying to understand the material. I get extra time on tests so I can show the professor what I know, so I can have time to "get my thoughts out" and then try to put the thoughts together in some coherent manner. I get notes from a classmate because in lecture if I try to write something down, by the time I've written the first half of the sentence I've forgotten what the professor said that I needed to remember.

So while my peers are in Cancun being filmed for Girls Gone Wild, I'm being lame and going to the library. You're not the only ones that are frustrated with students' lack of dedication. It's frustrating and lonely to always feel like a loser while sitting in the library at nine o'clock on a Thursday night and while listening to other people's tales of exotic spring break trips. It's frustrating because I wonder how in the world my peers make better grades than me without hardly ever cracking a book.

But I've done my time. I've flunked out. I know what it's like to feel like a failure. I don't want that anymore. I know what I want. I know what I'm after. With another year and a half of hard work, I'll graduate with a shit GPA and a degree in Philosophy and Psychology. And after several more years of hard work, I'll hope like hell that a philosophy program somewhere will somehow see the dedication and the passion I have and take the leap of faith by accepting me as a graduate student.

In the meantime, if one of you professors sees a student who looked like she was barely hanging on before spring break and who looks "on her game," relaxed, and tanned after spring break, know that I didn't get my tan from laying on a beach, I got my tan from cycling in the sun for the first time in months, in between hitting the library and looking at the sky.