July 18, 2006

My Story

Filed under: 100 Days of Summer,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 7:50 pm

I suppose this may come up now and then. Instead of just repeating the story over and over, I’ll give it all to you here and link you.

Some found it odd that I went to college without having graduated from or even completing high school. That I graduated from college at age 20. How did this happen? Well, listen up, folks, because I shall tell you the tale!

The year was 1998. I had completed ninth grade. Ninth grade sucked. In fact, I was going to have to repeat it. I did fine in most of my classes, except for English. I lost credit for being late a few too many times. Even so, still only got a D in it anyway. The teacher was a moron, okay? So, wasn’t too happy with the idea of having to deal with all this crap that fall. Not to mention the pointless workload. Every single class was practically trying to outdo the others in burying more and more work on their students. Couldn’t keep up. Didn’t see the point. Certainly didn’t like it.

In short, high school sucks.

And, no, I had no social life to speak of. I wasn’t in any group or club or clique or anything else. Even if I was, the academic issue was way more important.

So I was in a bind. There was tenth grade staring at me. Not to mention it had gotten most of the way through the summer and I hadn’t even started the stupid summer English homework they assign for some reason. Like they don’t drown you in enough work during the actual school year. Things did not look good. Not to mention my questionable academic standing and not being sure if I could handle the load.

Then we had a better idea. I just didn’t go to school! Fall of 1998, I unschooled. Tried to homeschool, but that wasn’t working well with me. I was taking a semester off, learning on my own here and there, working on my own projects. As well as watching South Park reruns, but whatever. Hehehe.

Of course, I was 15 years old and pretty much without school. Where was I to go from here? A 4-H group I was sort of involved with at the time included lots of families with homeschooled children, which sort of inspired me to take that route originally myself. That didn’t work too well with me, though. I enjoyed the break, but I needed a classroom or something.

Then someone recommended Montgomery College. We learned MC will admit students as young as 14 and has sub-freshman level classes. I could just get my book learning and all that way!

It was January of 1999 when I went to MC to take the aptitude test. To see which class level I should get into. It was on a computer. I sat there and answered the questions. Sentence structure. Reading comprehension. Math. Very easy stuff, really.

Afterwards, it was scored, and I got my results.

Recommended English? English 101. College freshman English. Awesome!

Math? Intermediate Algebra and Trig. Don’t recall the number. I think that one might have been just under 100-level. Meh.

The proctor told me I had scored much higher on this test than average high school graduates. And I was only a 15-year-old girl who should have repeated ninth grade!

Being my first semester and all, I was allotted only those two classes to take. Okay. So I signed up for them. English 101 on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 9am. Intermediate Algebra on Tuesday and Thursday at 11am. Not a bad deal.

Had my first day of college on January 26, 1999. I went into my English class that morning. Yay! I was being educated again. I took my education now a lot more seriously than before. After all, I wasn’t out of the woods yet.

I was facing still a dangerous scenario. I had to do well with this. Otherwise, I didn’t really have any more options. Worse was my mindset in those days, which I still feel a little bit, that being a loser drop-out was a fate worse than death. I knew I had a few semesters at MC. Doing well enough, I could transfer to a four-year college. I had a lot of work to do and an ambiguous, scary road ahead, but the path was there. It seemed worth it.

I left that first day feeling so electrified. Oh, and it was also the very first time I rode a Ride-On bus. That’s how I got home. The old Route 62, which just last year I was sad to see discontinued. Hehe. The fare was only ninety cents back then!

The next day I went to my algebra class. Went well.

In both classes, I got off to a bit of a rocky start. I failed my first big assignment in my English class, but managed to figure out my mistakes and pull myself back up. I like to write. In this class, I was learning to write well, and I liked that. I read the books. Five of them during the semester. The Grapes of Wrath. In Cold Blood. Makes Me Wanna Holler. Hunger for Memory. Gifted Hands. Then halfway through the semester was the Competence Test. Exactly like one of these writing assignments, but passing the class depended on this. I failed it the first run. Sigh. My teacher coached me a bit, and I totally nailed it the second time around. Whew! That was a close one.

Meanwhile, in algebra, I was treating it like all my previous math classes. Lagging a bit on the homework. Hehehe. Teacher would be instructing, and I’d be sitting there trying to catch up on it all.

Then in May, when it was all done, only just turned 16, I got my final grades. English 101? 89.3% B. Gaahhh!!! So close to the A. I expected about the same in algebra. But what a surprise. A!!! I got an A. Very first college semester, I got a 3.5. Only time I’ve ever made the Dean’s List or even came anywhere near it. I’d say that was a nice start.

The second semester, fall 1999, was looking nice. English 102. Precalculus. And, what I’d waited for so long, General Biology 107!!! That’s the one for biology majors, even though I hadn’t officially picked a major yet. Oh, man! I got to take biology! Yay!

Well, that quickly turned to disappointment. I was doing horribly in the class! Precalculus wasn’t so hot either. What was looking like a wonderful experience had turned stressful and irritating. Only English 102 was going well.

End of the semester, and I found two Ds and an A in English. Spelled out “dad”. Scared the hell out of me.

I did meet a few other under-18 college students like myself that semester. That was cool. And they were doing WAY better in their classes than I was! Sigh.

Third semester, spring 2000, I was looking at five classes, now permitted to take a full-time schedule. US History. French. Psychology. And retaking Precalculus and Biology. Oh, well.

This semester was a mixed bag. Psychology and French were going great. I ended up having to drop US History. I wasn’t failing it or anything, but I just lost confidence in it. I arrived a couple minutes late one time and was kicked out. I was so humiliated about it that I went straight to the registrar and withdrew from it. I don’t need that. It caused a major ruckus with my family though. My parents were furious, of course. The worst part was when my mom felt like she had to call up the teacher and ask him about it. Even more humiliating, because she revealed to him that I was only 16, and sure enough he made kind of a “well, that explains it” remark. Ugh.

Probably a good thing I got that out of the way. I had two classes that were going great. Good. Then the two I was retaking. Biology was definitely better. This time, I at least knew how much studying and all I had to put into it. I started off well, but hindered a bit, and came out with the C. Psych and French were both As. Then Precalculus. Okay, I can’t win. Something about that class just wasn’t sinking in with me. I got another D. Twice! Couldn’t believe that.

That was supposed to be my last term at MC. After some rather unrealistic college searches, I finally came down to earth and looked at some local colleges. I ended up only applying to one, Salisbury State University. Was going to apply to Frostburg State, too, since it’s just like SSU only on the other side of the state, but decided not to. Almost picked American University as well, but decided against it because of tuition and being closer to home than I wanted to be. So Salisbury it was. Although if I had gone to AU, I would have been involved with NYRA a lot sooner. 😉

And seeing as I was already a college student with a certain number of credits, they did not need any high school information nor a diploma nor a GED. :b:

On May 11, 2000, having just taken my French final exam, and with a horrible cold, I opened up a bit of mail from SSU along the lines of “We are pleased to inform you..” Woo hoo. Going off to college.

Wasn’t definite. After some inadequate grades and class dropping, I had to take two summer session classes to make up for it. Just about anything would do, so I wasn’t too picky. I wound up choosing American Literature and Social Psychology.

Oh, my, is the summer session fast-paced! Cramming four months of class into one month. Yikes! But I pulled through it. For the lit class, I pretty much had to spend all of my time just reading. Didn’t do all the reading. Just sort of winged it on quizzes. Came out with a B.

Social psychology! I expected it to go well seeing as how well the general psychology class went. Heh. I was learning not to assume a class was going to be easy. Rather it got like halfway through the semester and I was making a D. Oh, no. I had to make a C or better to be able to transfer to Salisbury! Otherwise I would not have enough transferrable credits. I managed to pick it up some, but by the end it was right on the line. Wasn’t looking good. And to make matters worse, I had to turn in this huge assignment that I hadn’t even started!

So I worked on it that weekend. It was fourth of July weekend. Actually, no, the last day of class was Monday, July 3. Had the fourth off, of course. I had that evening and the next day to finish this. Had to have it to the teacher by noon on July 5. Okay. Of course, didn’t think how big this assignment was. I blew it off until late night of July 4, of course. That’s me. Heh. Stayed up all night. Nervous. This had to not only be done but be done very well. Several hours sitting in front of the computer, typing at this thing ever so slowly.

Well, I got it more or less finished the next morning. I got no sleep. We went to the campus and I found the teacher’s office. He wasn’t there so I left it on his desk. And I went home. Tense.

It was getting to late July, and decisions about my going to Salisbury only a month later had to be made. Was I going to even be able to? Having not yet received my report card. We finally went to campus to the registrar to ask. The woman there made a little print-out with all my grades the whole time while there, so a second or so was spent skimming the page.

Social Psychology
C

I made the C! I made the C! Somehow, by some amazing miracle, I made the C! I’m going to Salisbury! I’m going to Salisbury!

And that pretty much sums up my time at Montgomery College. I transferred to Salisbury and started that fall. Also began another little adventure that distracted my mind. That’s how I became a 17-year-old sophomore at SSU. Later an 18-year-old junior. Then a 19-year-old senior. Finally a graduate walking across the stage at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center on May 22, 2003, a couple weeks after I turned 20.

So that’s my story.

I want to mention that even though I definitely hit a few bumps along the road, I highly recommend this method. You don’t need high school. Not if you’re going to college. Well, okay, some people might. But at least remember it is an option. If you know high school just is not working for you, there are other ways. It may vary depending on your region and what your parents will allow, but if you’ve gotten those taken care of, pursue it. It’s great. College is way better than high school.

Of course, I haven’t been without dumb questions and assertions here and there, even to this day, now that I’m 23, when people find out about this. Some think I should have kept my high school years because I’ll never have them again and that they’re supposed to be the best years of my life. These people need to realize that just because they enjoyed high school so much doesn’t mean the rest of us will. They were hardly the best years of my life, and they are far from it for so many other people as well. And, no, I don’t care that I can’t go back. I have no regrets.

Others have mentioned that it was a shame I didn’t go to my prom or graduate with the people I went to school with all those years. First of all, I think proms are stupid. I would not have gone to it. I would not have gotten a date either. I certainly would not have put on a fancy gown. No way. As for the other people my age, well, I didn’t get along with them well enough to care. Just not a concern for me. Again, people, just because some meaningless thing about youth was important to you doesn’t mean it has to be important to me.

Then comes the one that irritates me to no end. Someone said this to me last year. Apparently, having gone to college early, I “lost my childhood”. You know, childhood loses all of its appeal when it is forced upon you. A 15-year-old is not a child. I was a child when I was five. I was a child when I was ten. Fifteen? Not a child. Rather developed at that point actually. But regardless, I made that choice. It was a good choice. I’m by most definitions an “adult” now, and am still saying it was the right choice and have no regrets. Lost childhood? You know what? Define that. Had to deal with college work? Guess what? College work was actually a whole lot LESS rigorous than high school work. Not living with my parents? I left home at 17, not 15. Even so, hardly a perk. My family sucks. I could go on, but I really don’t need to justify this when someone makes such an asinine claim.

In any case, quit applying your personal morals and life span expectations to me. It doesn’t work with me. Not everyone’s life from birth to 18th birthday has to be the exact same. Far from it. Try acknowledging that. I have no use for your little milestones. They are yours. I have my own.

I didn’t want to turn this into a rant, so I’ll stop now. That’s how it happened. If this sounds appealing to you, then by all means go for it. If not, then continue on your merry way. The moral of this story is: if you can and you truly want to, do it!

This has been Day 56 of the 100 Days of Summer, Round 6.

7 Comments

  1. Oh, I envy you about this.

    Comment by Tempus Fugit — July 18, 2006 @ 10:00 pm

  2. Wow, this sounds really familiar…I started college just before I turned fifteen (summer semester), after finishing my freshman year in high school. For me it was the math; I was too far ahead and I wasn’t looking forward to taking Precalculus and then nothing for the last two years of high school, so I took trig at the college and went straight to calculus.
    But oh, I wish I’d realized sooner that high school is just a repeat of middle school, combined with (for the lucky AP students) a preview of college. It wasn’t horrible, socially speaking, but once my English teacher left it was boring. Drudgery.
    Nobody’s yet told me I’ve lost my childhood, but I’ve gotten the “you should have stayed in high school for the social experiences” junk too. Depending on who it is who says it, my responses vary from changing the subject to telling my listener that that was why my parents wouldn’t let me skip second grade, and why I chose not to skip eighth grade, and in both cases I’d’ve been better off skipping anyway. I don’t go to dances, I don’t date, I don’t make so many close friends it’s worth slowing down academically.
    More students should be told about college…high school seems like just a place for some people to catch up, while the rest idle. College-bound students are often better off just going to college, and career-bound students might do better getting practical experience in their chosen fields than being made to prepare for college.

    Comment by Gwen — July 21, 2006 @ 4:22 pm

  3. Yes, Gwen, exactly! :b:

    Comment by Katrina — July 21, 2006 @ 6:09 pm

  4. Wow. I had no idea Kat had done so much.

    Comment by Conor — July 25, 2006 @ 11:51 pm

  5. Brilliant! I wish I had that opportunity…in fact, I would’ve done that if my parents weren’t such autocratic cunts who tried and still do try to sabotage my having an education at all. Of course, that’s a long and nasty little story that I’ll bring up later.

    Comment by Luke — July 26, 2006 @ 8:54 pm

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