The College Re-Entry program has had two successful classes since opening in September. Each student spent at least 15 hours a week for 15 weeks participating in College Re-Entry’s core program, which is comprised of academic preparedness classes, wellness workshops and community activities. Here is what a few students had to say about their experience:
College Re-Entry alumni gathering
What was your favorite part of the College Re-Entry Program?
Shannon: I would say my favorite parts would be, first off, the social aspect. I was extremely fortunate with the group of people who went through the program with me; they all taught me a lot and I am so appreciative of that. I also loved all the different subjects we covered, including: note taking, nutrition, budgeting, and self-care (and that's just a few things we covered!). And of course, the farm trip was incredible!
Maggie: It was really encouraging to meet such awesome people who were in the same boat that I was in.
Nicole: Getting to meet other young people who are currently going through or went through similar experiences.
Awa: I think my favorite part was learning new things.
Michael: The free food. There was a lot. But honestly, it felt nice to be with people who understand your personal issues and how they can take their toll on your schoolwork and learn how to fight past that.
What challenges did you have during this experience?
Shannon: It was hard for me to get back into a routine of going somewhere everyday. I was really used to being on my own schedule and doing things on my own time, so it was kind of shocking to have an agenda. Also, some of the things we learned were really hard for me to implement into my everyday life (like working out or some aspects of self-care.)
Maggie: Forcing myself to back down from my previously held perceptions was difficult. I personally do not like admitting that I'm wrong and need a change!
Nicole: Finally dealing with past financial/academic issues that I had put off for years.
Awa: Learning how to apply what I learned, making them a habit, being consistent, being responsible and learning to work harder.
Michael: I was very hesitant to participate a lot. Honestly, my mental illness always made me feel like I wasn't strong enough and I shouldn't have stayed. But I'm glad I did.
What did you take away from this experience?
Shannon: I learned that balancing one's schedule with a lot of activities is not easy, but is an extremely useful skill. On a deeper level, I learned that a diagnosis doesn't matter. Everyone with mental illness can connect with each other and learn from one another through shared experiences.
Maggie: You should never stop improving or at least trying to improve.
Nicole: In order to resolve the current issues in your life, you have to be strong enough to confront the previous circumstances that brought you to where you are. It was also encouraging to finally see that my issues are not just specific to me.
Awa: I took away the things that applied to my vision board and that each new moment is a brand new chance to try and apply things.
Michael: That you are much more than you give yourself credit for.
What advice would you give future students of the College Re-Entry Program?
Shannon: Take advantage of everything the program offers you! Incorporate the tools you learn into your daily life and practice them every day until they become habit. That way it will just get easier and easier to continue your newly acquired skills. Secondly, talk to the other people in the program. It's so amazing to build friendships from all the experiences you share.
Maggie: There is nothing scary about Anna, Julie, Matt or Jason. They want to help you even more than you want to help yourself. Let them, or even better, ask them to!
Nicole: Things are never as bad as they seem.
Awa: Show up and be open to all things, even things you are skeptical about. You never know what will spark something in you or others.
Michael: You can get out of stuff if you pretend you hurt your leg. It works great for parking tickets (laughing). My grandma taught me that. Also, don't let your illness feel like it's going to overcome every aspect of you. You're much stronger than you think you are.
College Re-Entry students at High Point Farm
What are your future academic plans?
Shannon: I am going to Borough of Manhattan for another two semesters (summer and fall) and then I plan on transferring to a four-year college in New Jersey called Montclair State University and spend some time there. I will hopefully major in Psychology and also obtain a certificate in Makeup Artistry!
Maggie: I am applying to BMCC currently, and I plan on using the credits I get there to transfer to a four-year program to get my B.S. in Computer Science and/or Game Development.
Nicole: For now, I am focused on finally getting my bachelor’s degree.
Awa: I hope to make it to graduate school at least. I am not sure beyond that, but I really like learning so I hope to be able to continue taking classes and learning new things.
Michael: I'm going to stay at Hunter College and hopefully graduate there too. I look forward to streaking during the graduation ceremony (joking).
May 29, 2015.