I Learned the Hard Way

Christina - Santee, California
Entered on November 28, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

I graduated high school at the top of my class. To some, this may have been a great achievement, but to me it was insignificant. I didn’t feel like I had earned anything. The material was entirely too easy for me, and I never dedicated myself to learning and studying. My high school career was marked with one social event after another. By the time I graduated, I had become a party girl. I was resolved to take a year off after high school before I even attempted college.

When I broke the news to my parents, they stared at me in disbelief. I was given an ultimatum; go to school, or move out. Being only seventeen, I believed that I already knew all there was to know. My whole life I had been told how intelligent I was. I had completed school material quickly, almost effortlessly. What good could come from another four years of non-sense jargon?

Life on my own was much harder than I anticipated. I hardly even spoke to my parents. I lived in a one-bedroom apartment with a girl I hardly knew, and it seemed we were fighting all the time. I was always out late, drinking more, and experimenting with other mind-altering substances. I only worked thirty hours a week, and had too much free time on my hands. My life had no purpose.

In some ways I felt like I had finally hit rock bottom. I was struck with the realization that I didn’t make enough money to support myself comfortably on a waitress’ salary. I no longer wanted to live in run-down apartment complexes where I feared for my safety. In short, I wanted more for myself in life.

I thought I would turn my life around by enrolling in college. I began college at San Diego State University in September of 2004. I was under the impression that my keen intellect would get me through the material with minimal effort on my part; I couldn’t have been more wrong. After one semester, I left SDSU with a .8 GPA.

I had never been a failure. Never received less than a B in any class. Holding that miserable report card in my hands made me realize that the ability to learn was not enough. I had to strive to attain wisdom.

Grossmont College gave me the perfect opportunity to try again. I dedicated all of my free time to my studies, and took my education very seriously. I worked hard to get the material from the books to my brain. I continued to support myself, and once again began earning A’s and B’s. After two years, I received my Associates Degree.

It took a long time to realize, but now I understand that the acquisition of knowledge is far more important than the ability to learn, this I believe.