08 July 2011

Dealing with having to leave for a semester

To catch you up on what's been happening with school-- I'm taking classes at the local technical college this fall instead of the university I've been attending. I don't have a choice, really. My university dropped me as an enrolled student for a semester, and if I didn't take classes somewhere I'd no longer be eligible for student employment. So back to the two-year school I go, for one semester. Then I have to reapply for admission to the university.

The military term for this situation is "washing out", as in "I failed a block twice in Electronic Warfare school, so I washed out. Now I'm headed to Mortuary Affairs school." It carries a very negative connotation. Washing out isn't something you normally want to do, because it often puts you in a less desirable place.

This is one of those ideas that you take with you when you hang up the uniform and go to college. You also pick up the new idea that since you were in the military, you've gained the discipline and strength to handle something like college. In transition assistance and after, every time you read about Veterans going to school you hear success stories. So and so graduates with honors, so and so starts his own business or non-profit organization. Happily ever after.

No one writes about the Vets that simply got frustrated the first semester and left. Or the ones with PTSD or TBIs that get all the help they can and still struggle all the way through school. Well, except me, but I'm one of those people that's been struggling.

It used to be that you could find a job to keep you fed, clothed, and housed without some sort of degree. A high school diploma was enough for some jobs. My Dad worked in a truck frame factory for most of his life, and retired with a decent pension and health insurance. He didn't go to college. He did, however, start working there in the 1960's. That's 50ish years ago.

The important part here is that walking away from a university, technical college, or trade school grants you a temporary reprieve, but doesn't solve the problem of school being hard to manage. You still need an education of some sort.

The other important part is that if you're dealing with PTSD, even if you're on medication and in therapy, there are going to be times when there's just too much going on in your head. When that happens, your grades suffer and you may end up in my position, taking classes at another school for a semester.

There's really only one class I have to take in fall, and that's Spanish III. The rest of my schedule I'm filling in with a creative writing class, a study skills for Veterans class, and some sort of IT class if I can get into one.

Does this set me back a semester in my plan to graduate? Certainly. There is, however, a silver lining to this cloud. Another Spanish class is a requirement to graduate, so I have to take that. I'm taking a writing class because I've decided I like writing. I've also received good feedback on my writing, so taking a slight detour to learn a little more is a good thing. The study skills course is restricted to Veterans, and deals not only with study skills but adapting to life in school. I could use some help with that. Finally, the last class may turn out to be something completely different. Who knows.

Being dropped for a semester is not the end of the world. Having trouble with school is not the end of the world either.

I'll get through this. So will you.

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