Saturday, 19 November 2016

Story Time: The Time I Dropped Out of College

Disclaimer: I did finish college with two diplomas. One in social service work and one in recreation and leisure services.

Terrible Blackberry picture of the first day of school, the year I quit school
When I was eighteen and graduated from high school, I had zero idea what I wanted to do with my life. I knew that I wanted to work with seniors, but I didn’t know what path I wanted to take. I was pressured by my guidance counsellor to apply for social service work, so I did. Honestly, I had the coolest guidance counsellor, but ultimately, I regret not following my initial plan sometimes. That was to go for pre-health sciences then bridge into nursing.

I hated social service work. I almost dropped out at least a dozen times. When it came time to getting an internship, I initially didn’t know where I wanted to go. My professors encouraged me to try something out of dementia care, because that’s where they thought I would comfortable. So I did the first month of my four month placement at the local Boys & Girls Club. I hated it. I cried on my way home almost every day. The only reason I survived my first month was because my friend, Heather, was also doing her placement there but in a different department. However, she was always sent to the area I worked in to use the computers. So it was kind of a win-win.
I did end up switching placements and going to an Adult Day Program. Which was a respite program for adults with disabilities and seniors with various needs. I loved it. I knew then though, that I wanted to go back for more post-secondary education, because my first diploma wasn’t going to get me where I wanted to be.

I applied, and was accepted to a post-graduate program in therapeutic recreation. I still to this day regret not going. After talking to my placement supervisor, she mentioned how good I was working with the adults with disabilities. Last minute, I switched my program choice to developmental services worker.

The first semester of the program wasn’t terrible, but it did feel like I was just doing a repeat of social service work. I didn’t love it. But I thought I’d stick it out. That semester, I was also in and out of Toronto General Hospital with my heart. As well, I had an unexpected skin infection so I had to miss a week of school during that. I still finished that semester making honour roll, so I figured that I’d be fine going forward.

The second semester, I had little to no motivation to even get out of bed to go to school. I honestly probably skipped about 75% of my classes that semester. Frankly because I didn’t care. That March, I ended up really sick. I missed two weeks of school. When I came back from school, I found that I had been doing projects wrong because I wasn’t there to get clarification and I just wasn’t getting it. I decided that I couldn’t do it anymore.

The day that I decided to give up on developmental services, I went to the program coordinator of the recreation & leisure services program at my school. He reiterated to me that I’d be an asset, especially because of my passion for seniors. He signed off that he would let me into his program, so I just had to fill out the internal application and send it into the college. I was approved. The next day, I dropped my course load down to 40%, keeping the courses that I knew that I’d pass and wouldn’t impact my GPA. I finished the semester, and never had to return to the program again.

Honestly, dropping my course load and switching programs was my saving grace. Not only did I not like the coursework in the program, but my classmates and professors made me feel almost unwelcome. In the program that I switched into, I received so much help from my professors and classmates. Even in the low points of the program, I knew that I would pass the courses and that I wasn’t alone.

The DSW program is a great program for people who are super interested in working with people with disabilities. Honestly, I’d love to work with adults with disabilities in a recreation setting in the future. The environment just wasn’t for me.

I’m so grateful that my parents respected my decision to switch programs, and supported me while throughout my college journey.

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