I never wanted to go to college because I had no confidence in my ability to thrive in the classroom. (Check out my dyslexia experience from K-12th grade on Dyslexia Destroys.) With a little encouragement from neighbors and not wanting to work full time I applied to Valdosta State University (VSU). Once accepted I was not excited due to the fact that I knew I struggled in high school I figured college would be the same way.
I entered freshman year as an Athletic Training major. I grew up around sports and could tape a pretty mean ankle after watching my dad do it over 100 times. Everything as an Athletic Training major seemed fine until about three weeks in and I had my very first test. I studied for two weeks straight but when I got to the test and just saw a whole page filled with text and about 100 blank lines for fill in the blank I think I died and came back to life before even writing my name on the exam. Needless to say I was the very last person to finish and turn in the exam. I did the best I could but ended up failing the test and eventually getting a C in the class.
The same semester I struggled to stay on top of all the learning needed to get good grades in biology class even after going to every single tutoring class available. I got a B in english 101 because I couldn’t get higher than a C on any paper I wrote. It was rough when all of my friends were getting A’s and excelling on everything and I kept falling further and further behind.
After going home for Christmas break I spent a lot of time in prayer asking God if I was suppose to stay at VSU for the following semester. He made it very clear to me that I was suppose to go back. I went back for my second semester in college and really started to dread class. I worked so hard my first semester and only walked away with 2-C’s 2-B’s and 1-A which was a leadership elective class.
I quickly got behind again in my classes and ended up dropping out of one Athletic Training course. I took time at the counseling center where I did about five online test so I could better understand how I learned. This led me to spending time at the career services office with a great man named Kevin Taylor who set me up with a few different test that pointed out my strengths and what careers would be a good fit for me. He pretty much opened my eyes to the degree in communication where the classes are performance based instead of strictly test based. This gave me hope that I may be able to excel in college even if it means changing majors.
With his help, I quickly switched majors to Speech Communications in the College of the Arts. Switching majors is such a normal thing to do it college but I was over the moon excited for this change!
With my new major I was so happy with what I was learning and the work that was expected of me. I was able to plan, prepare and get help with every single assignment that was given to me. I knew that my spelling, writing and reading were not strong so I worked extra hard to overcome. I would read all of my weekly reading on the weekend before the class week so that I would not have to rush and read it and not understand the content. I would start writing my papers and doing research as soon as the professor gave me the assignment because I knew it would take me longer than most students. I would even take every chance to get the professor to review the assignments before the final deadline and use the tutoring center to have a older college student read and edit my papers!
I was so happy with what I was learning I wanted my grades to reflect my joy for each subject. That just took a lot more work and attention to each graded assignment. I was so determined to not let dyslexia get the best of me. I was not paying for college to just get a degree, I really wanted to embrace every topic. I wanted to use my dyslexia as a strength not a weakness in college and I think my time at VSU shows that I did just that.
I remember the very first time I made the dean’s list. I honestly didn’t even know it was a thing because I never made any list for having good grades. I felt like I had overcome the world! I knew that if I did it once I could do it again. I worked my butt off knowing that it was very attainable if I put excuses aside and put the work in! I remember studying for a Georgia history final for my US history minor…dates and events are pretty hard for me to get locked in my brain…I learn by doing and seeing. But that was pretty hard in history right? Well I made it not hard. I build a massive timeline in my bedroom and stood and studied each event in order. I aced the test and as I was answering the questions I could picture exactly what was written on the index card in the timeline.
In life we can make so many excuses. Being dyslexic I have spent so much of my life feeling stupid…college gave me the perfect situation to put aside any excuses of being stupid because I had all the tools needed to succeed. So I chased that feeling of getting on the Dean’s list every semester after the first time! No excuses, no feeling stupid, just hard work to prove it to myself that I am not stupid, that I am capable of whatever I put my mind too.
Much love, your Dean’s List Dyslexic!