SGA president gives advice to struggling students

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PHOTO/Ryan Lohman
PHOTO/Ryan Lohman

SGA President

Well, here we are. By the time you read this article, we should be well into week four of our semester here at IU South Bend.

This is when things start to get really real, especially for our first-year students just coming out of high school this past spring. Your first exam is probably happening this week or the next, and maybe that is the case in several of your classes. Or, maybe your first “big” papers are due around the same time as one of those midterm exams.

It can get a bit overwhelming.

Add to that all of the challenges you’ve been facing outside of school. I heard some real stories this week from some of our students that reminded me of just how challenging managing school and real life can be.

A 27-year-old student, with three children all under ten and another one on the way, was trying to manage a full-time course load of twelve credits. She couldn’t get her computer to work for her, which she needed for taking an online class. When she took her laptop to the IT Help Desk in Wiekamp Hall Room 1245, they told her it was full of bugs and viruses, and it would take a while to get cleaned up.

This was not what she wanted to hear. She was feeling like she was getting behind already and wasn’t sure if she could dig herself out of the hole she was in. All I could do was listen and encourage her to keep trying as hard as she could.

“Maybe I should quit,” she said.

“Don’t quit,” I said. “Get some help. Communicate with your professors. Let them know what you’re struggling with. Go to the Titan Success Center in the Education and Arts Building. Head over to the Tutoring Center on the fourth floor of the Schurz Library. Make sure that you’ve tried everything you can before you drop out because it is likely you will regret that decision.”

I know I did. I dropped out halfway through my first semester in college way back in the fall of 1989, and it took me 23 years before I was able to manage to get back on the college track successfully. That’s real right there.

Another student emailed me this week apologizing profusely for missing a meeting we had scheduled. Her car had broken down in the middle of a big traffic jam on the north side of the city. She was trying to get to class and had to wait for someone to come get her.

Then she found out the engine block in her car was cracked and it would take several weeks to repair. Now she had to rely on her parents to drop her off and pick her up for school and she was embarrassed about how that would look.

My advice to her was the same as to the other student: “Don’t give up! Life happens! Don’t let life get in the way of achieving your academic goals! You’ll get through this!”

That’s another dose of reality. Many of you reading this have at least one similar story to each of these young students and probably many more. The fact that you’re still here and still plugging away toward that degree is a testament to your tenacity.

Don’t be afraid to share your stories because your fellow students need to hear them. They need to know that, no matter what challenges they may be facing outside of the classroom, if they stick to it, they can be successful.

We all have stumbles along the way. We all may fall down on our way up the mountain, but the real story happens when you decide to get up from that fall and keep going.

The mountaintop is that platform at graduation day when you shake the presenter’s hand and they say, “Congratulations. You are now a graduate of Indiana University.” Imagine the feeling you will have on that day and use that energy to pick yourself up and keep climbing.

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