I’ve learned a lot from the College Re-Entry Program so far that I used in my first semester back at school: Organizational skills, study skills. But I think the biggest thing College Re-Entry gave me was the social connection. There’s no class in College Re-Entry about social skills or being around people, but that was really the biggest thing for me and it was exactly what I needed.
I didn’t have many friends at my old school. I hopped around friend groups my first year, but I didn’t really meet anybody that I connected with, to be honest. I had a few friends, but they were surface level friends. We didn’t really see the same way and we didn’t have a lot in common. So, when I left school, I had no friends and was living alone in an apartment. That definitely contributed to my depression.
At College Re-Entry, I was with nine other people who have gone through situations similar to mine. Being with people in the same boat, who were taking time off from school and figuring out their next option, that was the biggest thing for me. It really helped me realize I wasn’t the only one.
It also helped me step out of my comfort zone when I went back to school this semester and make new friends at my new school. I’ve already made a ton of friends and look forward to making more next semester when I move onto campus. I will be living with five other guys then, which should be good.
Even this school wasn’t perfect when I first got there. I was so nervous about starting classes and concerned about how I would do. Would I be able to get at least a B in my classes or would I be barely passing? And I just worked hard, I spent time with a friend from College Re-Entry who was there too. We have been going to the gym together and studying in the library together. It helped me put myself out there. It made it a lot easier. I think I am going to have about a 3.5 in my first semester. I don’t know my exact grades, but I had A’s in both of my classes.
Joining clubs at school helped me meet people, too. It took me a while. I sent emails out to tons of people at school about joining clubs and I wasn’t getting any responses. I was getting really anxious and started worrying about what was happening. I didn’t know if I was going to fit in. If I didn’t fit in, how would I be able to move onto campus. I didn’t know anybody.
Then I went to a networking event and one of the guys who heads career services was there. I introduced myself to him and told him I was interested in finance. He said, “Oh, you should join the finance club.” He put me in contact with the woman who is president of the club and she emailed me. It started there.
For me, the clubs are huge. The clubs and my classes. I actually met a kid in my IT class who had transferred from my old school the semester before I did. We didn’t know this until two weeks before the class was going to end, or three weeks ago. He was like, “yeah, I didn’t like it there.” And I was like, “yeah, me as well.”
When I think back, the advice I would give to myself as I was struggling with school and with my diagnosis is to think short term. I’m trying to take things one step at a time and not think too far in the future. Things work themselves out. Take your time. Work hard and take a positive attitude and it will sort itself out. Having a toolkit really helps you. I think that’s the best way to succeed with a mental health diagnosis.
By David, College Re-Entry Student
College Re-Entry helps academically engaged 18-30 year-old college students, who withdraw from their studies due to mental health challenges, return to college and successfully reach their educational goals. If you or someone you know is struggling in school due to mental health challenges, please reach out to our team at College Re-Entry.