At College Re-Entry You're a Student, Not a Patient

Posted on February 7, 2019
I went to College Re-Entry in the winter of 2018. A year before, I had dropped out of Syracuse. My dad died in the summer of my freshman year, after I came back from abroad. Between my grief and psychosis, I started to isolate myself the fall of my second year. The reality that was going on in my head was completely different from the one that was actually real. My mom and my family saw me deteriorating and so did the people who managed the scholarship I was on, Scholarship Plus. In fact, they were the first people to say to me, “We think you need help. We’re here to help, we love you and we will do what we can.” They sent me to my first hospital.
Finally, when I had calmed down and everything was starting to get back to normal, I was looking to go back to school right away. The people at Scholarship Plus are the ones who recommended that I look at College Re-Entry. Of course, I was kind of bummed because it would delay my return to school, but it came to me at the exact right time. It happened when it should have happened.  
I realized pretty quickly that going to College Re-entry was a good idea because it’s practice. Everything in life needs practice. School is one of the main things you need to practice for. I feel like this is a place where I got to learn the ropes of school again from a different perspective. It’s just a way to truly understand how to be a better student. I think College Re-Entry is needed for everybody. I wish there were programs like this for kids who even didn’t have a mental health diagnosis. I feel like this program is helpful in so many that it doesn’t even matter about our mental health diagnosis. It’s about how to be a better student regardless of anything that life may throw at you.
Something that was interesting to me when I was at College Re-Entry is that when you are there you aren’t a patient, you are more of a student. Everything is centered on school with this caveat of, yeah, we also have psychosis or depression or are experiencing bipolar. These are just side notes, they’re not at the forefront of what the program is trying to accomplish. I found that to be super interesting because I wasn’t just a person dealing with schizophrenia, I was just a student. I was somebody else who was trying to graduate, which, honestly, I feel like had been the biggest struggle ever. Undergraduate has been a struggle for sure and it’s great to go through that with a group of people who are in the same spot that you’re in.
College Re-Entry showed me that I’m not the only one. I really thought that this is happening to me and only me. It helped me get out of my mental space that this is only happening to me. I made great friends from it. We still talk. It’s just been great.
I feel like before I was too focused on school and was like, “Oh my God, I need this to be on my record because it looks good when I apply for a masters.” Now I look at education a little bit differently. Now I take my health into consideration first. That’s something I didn’t do before. That’s something I just took for granted and now it’s something that’s at the forefront.
This fall, I started at John Jay College because my ultimate goal is to go to law school and John Jay has this great idea for justice and I felt it was the right fit.
By Ambar Paredes, College Re-Entry Student
College Re-Entry student Ambar Parades