I've suffered as a sub-par student for much of my academic career. Poor organizational habits were a contributing factor, as was a frankly bad attitude towards education that was caused by a sort of aimless life-view. The principal cause of my absentee education, however, was the inevitable lack of motivation and skewed outlook that accompany the denial and depression inclusive to my hard-drinking lifestyle.
The last time I attempted to return to college and finish my degree, I never even attended my first class. I registered, paid, picked up my student ID, signed up for two courses, one classroom and one on-line. Then, not-surprisingly, I didn't show up for the first, second or third day of class and so-on. I couldn't even manage to log in to my online course from the relative comfort of my own couch.
I remember -- with startling clarity, given the general fogginess surrounding the period -- sitting at the kitchen counter in the sunny, early afternoon. My small, white Mac open to the course login page. A very full tumbler of cheap gold-brown whiskey sat just to the right of the keyboard -- not the first of the day... At some point between adolescence and semi-adulthood, I had forgotten, probably intentionally, that one isn't supposed to fill a rocks glass to the rim, only stopping just shy of the lip, squeezing every last drop into what one's wounded psyche could qualify as a "serving." Sometimes I listed slightly as I poured, spilling whiskey, or gin or occasionally vodka across the counter. Sad, lonesome rivulets of wasted alcohol dribbling away like my future...
I was staring at the comics and magnets and photos stuck haphazardly to the refrigerator in front of me, sipping whiskey, oblivious to the notion that most people, normal people, happy people, might think twice about drinking straight whiskey before eleven AM. Something snapped or popped, or rather, shifted back into its broken home and I decided either that there was no point in even trying to study, or that I might as well wait a few hours (probably a little of both) and I gave up before I even began. I shut the computer and wandered from the sunny kitchen into the dark, closed-in basement to empty what remained of a bottle of Canadian Mist in front of a glowing TV. Not your model student.
That echoes my original college experience as a student at DU through some unlikely miracle of GPA sleight-of-hand, luck and forsaken kismet. Attending class only sporadically, very occasionally completing homework on time, and failing fantastically to note any correlation between brazen alcohol abuse and grade-killing apathy. I made it two years -- sort of. The clarity and focus I’ve gained through a rigorous personal inventory and active participation in A.A. and other sober activities has helped me to cement my goals in my mind. Where I previously floundered, I now have a clear perspective. Before I didn’t know what I wanted, now I am sure that I want to graduate from college. I am plainly and intensely motivated.
I have to admit how incredibly surprised I was when I recently entered my third week of classes at Regis University, to find that I'm actually a college student. I'm reading, doing my homework, writing papers, paying attention to deadlines. Its shocking, but I'm actually STUDYING. Thank God for third chances.