If you’re in college right now, or if you ever have ever been, you know the pressure put on you to maintain a high GPA. The pressure is such that you may feel you won’t survive if your GPA drops below 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. I’m here to tell you that I lived through one year when my GPA tanked because I got very sick, I discovered what I really wanted my future career to be, and I learned some hard lessons about life and the way things worked. My GPA has since recovered, but I learned more things of value in that year than the classroom could possibly have taught me.
I had fallen in my junior year. It was my first time away from home, living on my own. I was pretty comfortable with my wheelchair, but was challenged in navigating an environment that was not disability friendly. The stress that placed on my shoulders was devastating, I often felt that I was failing not only myself but my family, as I would often have to miss class because I could not get to the classroom due to, say, a broken elevator. I searched for alternatives but found nothing — completely no fault of my own and there was nothing more I could do, yet I felt disappointment ring in my ears as I would turn to go back home instead of to class.
October came, and a sore throat with flu-like symptoms kicked in. I pushed this to the back of my mind and the bottom of my to-do list for about a week, until I could no longer keep food down. I continued to vomit long after I had stopped eating, and could barely speak through a swollen throat by the time I made an appointment with the student health clinic. Some questions, an exam and some tests later, my mom was called to come pick me up as I had mono and needed to return home to get well. It was important to me not to withdraw, and return to class as soon as possible.
Personally, I took the “whole GPA defines your life” thing very seriously, and was very afraid this would somehow ruin my life. When I wrapped up that semester after coming back, I was a different person. I had completed the semester with more bad grades than good, but I finished. I knew my GPA could take a punch and I had time to make up for losses. I learned a lot about letting go during this time. I also discovered my passion for writing and social media.
You can’t be good at everything all of the time! I think we all know that some of our best and brightest today have had low GPAs, or perhaps didn’t finish college at all. College is not for everyone, after all.
I sit here today having taken a medical withdrawal from my senior year of college. So far, it’s been very difficult for me. There were a lot of changes in where and how I could attend school, as well as in what I would take. While my doctors and I were hopeful of my returning for the spring semester, that unfortunately is not yet the case. My health is still a work in progress that people tell me “must come first.” I’m not quite sure they understand that as a young person, though.
Because of all I’ve been through, I have learned that your GPA is not the most important thing in the world. It doesn’t reflect who you really are, it doesn’t make you a good or bad person, it does not mean that you are smart nor dumb. It is a number on a piece of paper. Yes, it is important to get good grades, but it is also important to experience life and learn about yourself before you miss out.
Note: Cerebral Palsy News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cerebral Palsy News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cerebral palsy.
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