It’s always my pleasure to highlight when a student makes a successful turn-around in college. Below is a Q&A with a young man who went from unacceptable academic standing to a 3.37 GPA, which has opened many new doors for him, including international studies. Through the right combination of factors, including school choice and in-college support, many students can make a successful turn-around.
1. What happened early in your college studies?
When I graduated high school, I had a good GPA and had done well in AP courses and in the AP exams that I had taken. However, that’s not to say I didn’t already see a noticeable decline in my marks from freshman year through senior year. Starting in to college, I felt like it would be definitely be more difficult and the differences between high school and college would re-energize my motivation and efforts toward doing well in school, but I started doing poorly. That’s not to say I did poorly in all classes, my grades were definitely inconsistent relative to each other and instead were dependent on my interest in the subject. My lower marks in my first semester I blamed on my generalized studies, but they had discouraged me enough that I did poorly even in my more-subject specific second semester. When I returned for my 3rd semester I was already on academic probation and I had pretty much lost interest in doing well, so I dropped out during that semester.
2. How did you begin to turn things around?
It took me awhile, and a few experiences, to make me realize that I needed to return to college. I think it was working at two dead-end jobs that really set in my mind that I needed to take a few steps back and look at my life. Once that happened I realized how much of a trap I was in, the bad economy was getting worse, and I had pretty much assumed out of college that I would be able to get at least an OK job based on my academic abilities (which had only been showcased in high school). My parents had been telling me I should work with Jeff Ludovici for about two months, but I was very intent on rectifying my mistakes by myself and I had checked his website and was so unimpressed by the layout/structure (which has changed since then) that I didn’t even try to read his articles. I was turned down by 2 colleges before I even thought of contacting him, and being turned down made me understand that I could not keep shunning help. Once Jeff started helping me I was still hesitant, but with his support and through his guidance within only a couple months I had been accepted into a university.
3. What was your first semester back like?
I was definitely excited about going back, but a little nervous about my age (I would be the age senior entering) and the idea that this would probably be my last chance to be enrolled in college as a full time undergrad…I could not make the same mistakes I had. Working with Jeff kept me on track academically each week, helping me make sure I understood the caveats of my schedule, while being there to give me advice on essays and other homework. Just having a conversation would sometimes make me realize I had forgotten to start on class work which was crucial to my marks that semester. Socially, I had felt that I might have been too old to really fit in (especially since I had to live in a dorm for at least a year at my university), but things really worked out for me in the end.
4. How are you doing now?
I would say I’m doing fairly well: I’ve earned A’s in many courses including some writing intensive courses (which always make me nervous) and currently have a 3.37 GPA. My grades in my major courses allowed me to go on a study abroad trip in the summer to Asia which was an amazing experience. Now I’m currently on track to get a degree in International Business and East Asian Studies and I am planning to spend my next two semesters in Asia through a full exchange. I definitely feel like I’ve escaped the trap that plagued me a little over a year ago, and my self-confidence and relationships with other people has improved as a side-effect.
5. What advice would you give a student who wants to succeed?
Be willing to accept help from other people…It’s still hard for me to do sometimes, but letting people help you does not show weakness or inability. Don’t wait to act either, because opportunities come and go, and inaction does nothing to change a situation. Be honest with yourself and with other people, sometimes it takes honesty with other people before you become honest with yourself and sometimes vice versa, but whichever way it makes it easier for everyone to have a clearer understanding of each other and of how to help. Define your own idea of long-term success, and then set that as your goal, making sure to break it down into short-term goals that, when completed, are a visible mark for your own personal progress. Eventually one of those short-term goals will be to study and do your homework, and you should.
Jeffrey Ludovici, M.A., is a national level Higher Education Consultant based in Pittsburgh, PA. He’s worked with students and parents across the U.S. about college issues since 2001, and is a member of CSRDE that focuses on best practices in helping students. He is also a member of NACADA, the national college advising association in the U.S. Please see the program page for services Jeff offers.