After my third semester away at school, four days before Christmas, I received a letter from my university’s Provost that every college student fears.


“…I regret to inform you that your unsatisfactory academic performance has made it necessary to dismiss you from the university.”


I immediately felt shame and failure. I had known that my GPA was on the low side, but not low enough to warrant dismissal. Academically I was not always the strongest, but I tried my hardest to get decent grades. I was confused, sad, and embarrassed. I couldn’t return to school for a whole year. I felt as though the end of my future had come. After overcoming this awful roadblock, I’ve compiled a list of things to think about after your career as a college student has been shaken.


1. Breathe.

I know what you’re thinking. Everything is over, there’s no going back, and your college career is over. Trust me, it’s not. Take a deep breath. There are a lot of options ahead of you. Please don’t give up so soon.


2. Think to yourself: What could have caused this?

There are lots of questions to ask yourself while you are going through this. Did you not work hard enough? Did you work too hard? What was going on in your life when you realized you were struggling? Did you study enough? Be real with yourself. The more you deny and place blame on other things or people, the harder it’s going to be in the long run. Think about if college is really for you, or maybe it’s a fix as small as a major change. Either way, really think about your future and whether or not that still includes being a student.


3. Work on your appeal.

Depending on your university, there could be a chance to be given an immediate second chance after you are dismissed. Most colleges give the opportunity to write an appeal letter, which allows you to explain what happened to your GPA. Be honest, and don’t try to get the easy way back in. The best thing you can do is tell your entire story. You can also find a lot of sample letters on the internet to help you out.


4. Take some classes at a community college.

If your appeal ends up being accepted, wonderful. If not, don’t panic. You still have many more options. While you take your break from school, I highly encourage taking some classes at a community college. You don’t have to take on a whole schedule if you don’t want to. Taking just a couple classes is a great start. Working on your education while away from your designated college shows that you’re taking the upper hand and trying your hardest to return to school after your original plan took a hit. Remember: there’s absolutely no shame in finishing your degree at a community college.


5. Work.

It’s important to stay busy and motivated while you wait to return to school. Working or volunteering is a great way to distract yourself from stress. You can also take up several hobbies if you have some time on the side. Make a list of things you’ve wanted to do but couldn’t because you spent so much time at school.


6. Prepare for reinstatement.

When the time comes, and you still wish to go back to school, submit your required materials for reinstatement. If it’s a letter you need, remember again to be honest with yourself and your school. Tell them how hard you worked to improve your GPA, and mention that you’ve also worked on yourself. It’s not just about going back. It’s also about self-improvement and growth. If you feel you have improved academically and mentally, and you feel you are ready to continue your education, tell them. It also doesn’t hurt to include a letter of recommendation.


7. Remember: You’re not alone!

Dealing with a blow like this is hard. I’ve been there. It’s important to remember that you’re never alone during a time like this. Talk to your parents, friends, or even a counselor if you feel like the weight is getting too heavy. Stress is never something to deal with alone. Believe it or not, your university is rooting for you. Although extremely disappointing, this is something that forces you to make some important life decisions. I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but it’s going to get better. Don’t let this small hiccup stop you from getting your degree. It’s your life, and you can do it!

After taking a couple classes at my nearest community college and changing my major, while also working and doing some hard thinking, I’m extremely happy to return to my university. Whoever said students who take a gap year and don’t go back doesn’t know what they’re talking about, because I’m back and #thriving!


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