College was quite the experience for me. Truthfully, I strongly disliked almost every minute of it. I love learning and writing… I just hate being graded and tested on my work. The pressure of passing or failing made the experience stressful and under stress I don’t learn well. I’m not the type of girl who went to the Hillel on campus, joined clubs, attended frat parties, or even Shabbatons/holiday parties. I wanted to get in and get out of school as quickly as I could. Ironically, what should have taken me four years to complete took me five and here’s the story of how and why.
I’m very stubborn. My stubbornness and strong desire of not wanting to be in school showed. I left readings to last minute if I did them at all. I would barely set time aside to study for tests and when Professors said attendance didn’t hinder my grade I didn’t show up unless I had to. I had a 7:45am math class my first semester of College. I’m not one who likes waking up that early to be sitting in a classroom learning math of all subjects. Most mornings I showed up I was fighting myself from nodding off. Most of the time it didn’t work and my head would dramatically drop to one side scaring the life out of me, which would cause me to gasp and wake up. After that semester I never took a class that early again. I would take my tests, hope for the best, get okayish grades due to my lack of effort and it never occurred to me until three semesters in to check my GPA.
When I checked my GPA I was shocked. It was so low I felt like if a squirrel was in my class, it would be doing better than I was. I didn’t know what to do. My father is a beyond intelligent individual and take schooling very seriously. Having a good education and being well educated is one of the many keys to success. All my Father ever wanted was to set us up for success and pass on as much knowledge as he could so we can thrive. Well, my paternal grandmother passed on unshakable stubbornness and I mostly chose to emulate her and go my own way. I was in a state of panic. I was put on academic probation for two semesters. I had a total to 30 weeks to get myself together and figure out this whole good grades and college thing. Mind you, High school was a joke for me. I never learned study habits that worked because most of my teachers spoon fed us information. Over the course of 30 weeks I had to change my whole approach to studying and I was drowning from the stress and pressure.
Aside from that, I was getting engaged during this time. That wasn’t exactly a breeze either. Each of our parents had their reservations about the other. I taught Pole dancing and expressed my opinions loudly. Mo completed 60 credits in College and decided it was not for him. I’m sure there were way more reservations but I can tell you its exhausting trying to get people to love the person you love as much as you do. It was endless fight and during my last 15 weeks to prove I can do this College thing, with family objecting loudly, Mo flew me to Disney and proposed. It was magical and wonderful however, paired with the stress of being engaged, convincing our parents to be on board, and planning a wedding those 15 weeks flew by and I didn’t get my GPA to where it needed to be. I was shaking in my pants and when I refreshed my student profile it said Hold: “academically dismissed.” My heart almost stopped in that moment. I called up my College advising office and asked if there is anyway this can be reversed. Can I have a second, second chance. I needed that second, second chance.
I was informed I can submit and appeal to this decision and if the appeal was accepted I would have to appear in front of a 10 person panel to be listened to, then judged by then. If they decided my circumstances to cause me to fall behind were legitimate, I would get back into school. Keep in mind I could NOT let my parents find out. I couldn’t tell anyone aside from Mo, My sister and best friends. So I sat down to write them all the reasons, events in my life, and stresses that would cause one to flunk out of school. That essay was 16 pages long, and that was me cutting it short. I had to get that essay notarized and submitted within 48 hours of when I saw I had been Academically dismissed. Probably one of the most stressful times of my life. Getting the appeal requirements in on time an then waiting to hear if they accepted my appeal. I had to wait 8 weeks, apparently this happened to hundreds of students a semester. I had to have a better story than 80 students because they do not allow everyone back in. I finally got a call that I had to appear in front of a panel. The began questioning me about things they highlighted in my essay. Each one made a comment along the lines of “Wow, that’s rough.” Or “That’s enough stress for a lifetime.” Then I was asked how I would make sure that I wouldn’t let my grades slip through the cracks again. I said truthfully, I really don’t know. Whatever it is though, when I figure out what method works for me I’m giving it 150% of my effort. I didn’t care if all I was doing was eating, sleeping, attending school and that’s it. I needed to figure this out and get my degree. After 30 minutes of talking amongst themselves a majority vote came in deciding that I should be allowed back in and they made sure to tell me this was my very last chance.
I got married and studying and taking night classes was very difficult. People would invite us to hangout on week nights, Shabbos, and Sundays. I was almost always saying no, and with my husband being a huge social butterfly it was a struggle for us. I ended up giving in because I was scared he would resent me, and he never chose to student life so trying to understand the work I needed t put in didn’t come easy. On Shabbos when I should have been reading at least 5 chapters from two textbooks at a time was spent socializing and secretly I was being eaten up by anxiety. I was so anxious and afraid that I would fail again, but I was a wife now and I had to figure out how to balance and chase my own dreams while I fancied my Husband’s dreams too. Family kept saying they never see us, friends were telling me I don’t exist and my Husband was starting to feel isolated. I was being eaten alive by the pressure of balancing both and then my health began to spiral out of control. My IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) got so much worse. Most of my classes I couldn’t attend because I was half the day doubled over in pain. Stress, along with triggering foods, caused me to spend way too many sleepless nights in the ER and all I could think is “WHY ME.” “What have I done so wrong, that something always has to go wrong.” Aside from my IBS being an issue I started having partial seizures. I was paralyzed from anxiety. I was so scared that while driving to class I would have a seizure and my doctor expressed the same concerns. My Neurologist wrote me a letter to excuse me from classes that semester on medical leave. However, I was already set back from being academically dismissed. I wasn’t ready to slow things down even more. I explained to my Professor’s that I could do assignments from home, I can prepare myself for exams and participate in group projects all from home, and when I could I would try my very best to make it in for the exams to take in person.
Compassion again was what I was given. My professors were so accommodating to me. I mean, when you get a note from a Neurologist saying a student is having unpredictable partial seizures… it usually freaks people out to some extent. I also believed that none of those professor’s wanted me dropping out of my chair in class, convulsing, like I was trying to act out an exorcist movie. That visual can cause trauma to any bystanders. Its frightening, and very ugly. So I was granted the ability to do assignments from home. Some Professors made it easy and gave me different assignments than the class that would count as majority of my grade for each little percentage that made up my final grade. Three semesters went by like this and I finally found my method that worked. Add a doctor’s note from a neurologist, subtract the stress of driving to school, subtract the social anxiety I got sitting in a classroom setting, add teaching material to myself, add being able to work because less time was spent in school and Viola I was getting all A’s and B’s.
For those wondering, my Father did find out about my academic dismissal 2 semesters before I finally graduated. I had a car accident driving to school my second semester in. Two and a half years later, the taxi driver who was 100% at fault decided to sue me. I was called by a Geico agent who was representing me in court that I has to show up with him. The first time I had to show up I was called the night before saying the Taxi driver was out of the country. The lawsuit should have but didn’t end there. I had to appear in court again but the time and date chosen was when I had lab. Any college student knows that you do not and cannot miss lab. So I asked my lawyer if he can show up on my behalf and tell the judge I was academically dismissed from college previously so I cannot under any circumstances miss lab or any class because I can risk my last shot at graduating. Mr. Hong, my lovely agent did exactly that. However, my contact information had two numbers. My cell phone number and my parents’ house phone number. Mr. Hong left the following message on my parents answering machine “Hi Rachel, It’s Mr. Hong from Geico calling. The Judge accepted you reasoning for not attending this court date and said the following “Because Miss. Rachel Dublinsky wasn’t able to show up due to being on academic probation for being previously academically dismissed, we’re going to settle on half the requested amount.” My father quickly interrupted the message and picked up. Questioned Mr. Hong and quickly realized my Father had no idea I was academically dismissed. I then get a call to my cell phone from Mr. Hong and when I pick up I hear “I am so sorry! So I said, why did we lose? No, you got a pretty good deal. I’m sorry because I left a very detailed message on your parents Phone that said you were previously academically dismissed and now on probation. I didn’t know your parents didn’t know… I am so sorry! Please don’t hate me.” “Oh God! Mr. Hong. I don’t hate you but just so you understand I am a grown a** married woman. I do not share everything with my parents anymore. I live under my own roof. Thank you for your help with the case, I’ll text you my funeral arrangements if I don’t survive what’s to come.” My father called me in a state of panic, but I wouldn’t be my Father’s daughter if I didn’t almost give him a heart attack every few years. And Dad, if you’re reading this I love you! Breathe because I FINALLY GRADUATED!!!! I am now the proud owner of a piece of paper that says I have a BA in Psychology.