I flunked freshman year

Can I still get a college degree? Absolutely, says our elder.

I did the same, and I’m living proof that you can turn this situation around.

Dear EWC

I recently completed my first year of college and it was complete hell. I went from many distractions, peer pressure, a bad relationship, and the lack of motivation I had before I actually came to college. I was a great student in high school with an 80 to 90 average and I kind of just jumped into college without thinking about where to actually go. I basically handpicked a college out of a hat and went. For short let’s just say I didn’t do what I was supposed to be doing. Over time I would stop going to class and isolate myself in my room and there were times I literally attempted to go out and couldn’t make it out the door. I had friends, I just hated the college and the environment and wanted to go home. Now I have a plan and am no longer attending that college. I have been applying to colleges like crazy in my town but I am afraid to reveal my grades on my college transcript. I mean, my GPA is literally a 1.6. I am extremely humiliated in myself and wish I could go back in time to fix things. However, the damage is done. I am a very smart girl and am confident that if I do receive the acceptance letter, I will not hesitate to clean up my act, being that I am in a more comfortable environment. However, I am afraid they will deny me off of my reputation from my first year. I cannot take a year off and I do not wish to drop out. Please give me advice.

Ketchman replies

Thank you for contacting us. I’ll try to offer something useful.

The experience you’ve described sounds uncannily like mine when I was about your age. I entered college and skated for almost a year based upon my natural smarts until I collided with the requirements of concentration and study. When I flunked out in disgrace I think my GPA was lower than yours. Really.

I’m living proof of the fact that all is not lost. You can still graduate with a useful degree from a good university. You should schedule face to face (or at least virtual) meetings with admissions counselors from each school you’re applying to — they’re all in your area, right? During that meeting you can tell them pretty much what you’ve told me, emphasizing your maturity and dedication. You won’t be able to conceal your past grades but you can explain how you’re not the same person you were. Past school performance isn’t the only criteria used to determine college admissions. You might also be offered a conditional admission requiring you to maintain a minimum GPA throughout some initial probation period.

Another option you have is to take your freshman and, maybe, sophomore years in a community college and then transfer to a four year institution for your last two or three years. The degree you’ll ultimately receive won’t be any different from those who attended for four or more years. If you can show good grades during those years at the community college the university will, likely, ignore or give little credence to your prior school record. If you choose your community college and subsequent university carefully you’ll lose very little time and save a bunch of money as well. If that’s an option you want to explore it will be critical to insure that the credits you accumulate at the community college will be transferable to the four year institution.

I remember, all too well, how discouraged and humiliated I felt. As I subsequently discovered and, I hope you will too, our experiences are not uncommon ones and can be recovered from. It’s going to take some work and dedication but the degree you ultimately receive will be that much more satisfying.

What you’ve described is, I’m guessing, an all too common experience among bright but (in my case) somewhat lazy or distracted new college students who breezed through high school without a huge amount of effort. The good news is that it’s not a “terminal” condition and once you apply some diligence you can come out of it successfully and a lot wiser.

I hope that helps. You have my best wishes for success, academically and beyond. Please continue to use us as a resource whenever you could use a bit of advice or second opinion about ‘most anything. Call on us anytime and, if you like, you could always ask for me and I’ll be pleased to answer. Thank you for giving me a chance to assist you.

Letter #: 459903
Category: School

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