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Second Chance
(Continued from 1)

When I was in grade school, I expected knowledge to miraculously enter my brain without any effort on my part. I waited until the last minute to study for tests and inevitably woke up in a panic realizing that I’d fallen asleep in the middle of the first page. For me “applying myself” involved reciting chapters into a tape recorder and playing them back as I drifted off to sleep. The results were not good; I attended summer school just about every year for a second try at the classes I had failed. So imagine my surprise when my history professor handed me back the test with a “95” circled in red. What? I’m the 95? If I had been standing I surely would have fallen smack on the cold linoleum from shock. This has got to be a fluke I thought. I was doomed to failure, right? With weak knees, I made my way to my next class, still in disbelief. Another test was returned and I got another good
grade. How can it be that the girl who spent her summers repeating failed classes is now getting straight A’s? I had clearly been given a second chance.

One of the most important lessons I learned was that age and maturity can do wonders for college success. If had gone to college straight out of high school, I probably would have failed. Instead, I started college after I had lived a little and was serious about dedicating the time necessary to succeed in college. For my first test, I read the assigned chapters and reviewed my notes. I studied and emorized the lessons. I was prepared for that test and wonder of wonders it paid off. I
found that hard work and a desire to learn were the key ingredients to succeeding. I spent many nights and weekends foregoing fun and relaxation to study, and my boyfriend became accustomed to watching TV while I worked on my algebra homework. I also missed a lot of sleep. But I wanted and needed that college degree so lost sleep and lost weekends were a small price to pay.

My life has changed in so many ways since graduating from college. More than anything else, it has given me confidence to try new things. I figure that if a math-o-phobe like me can get A's in algebra, there are no boundaries to what I can do. And it may sound like the oldest cliché in the book but if I can do it, you can too.

Do not let your past, or for that matter the present, stop you. Even though I knew deep inside that I was capable and smart, the messages I received from misguided teachers and others prevented me from trying. Sure, you may feel downright clueless at times, that’s normal. Just remember lots of other people are just as lost and scared as you are. You may not become rich or famous but the new experiences you will have and the sense of pride and accomplishment you will gain will be priceless. Minutes, hours, days and years will pass...why not spend them changing your life with a college degree?

Caroline Reeder is a writer, artist, and musician, and works as a development officer for a public library system. She lives in a 1920s bungalow in Houston, Texas with her husband Jose, and their cat-children Friskers and Oreo.

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