Here’s the thing about the healing properties of time: difficult subjects would eventually become easier to talk about.
Not a lot of people know that I had to spend one semester at City College of San Francisco in order to transfer back to Mills. I also didn’t drop out of college of my own accord but was in reality issued a disqualification due to my failing grades. I was in a deep depression that took a year and a half to come out of and was the source of disappointment, worry and frustration for many of my loved ones.
I ultimately enrolled in school again in Fall 2012 and came back to Mills for the Spring 2013 semester. I did dread having to again see old professors whose classes I’ve failed, deal with roommates and make new friends, especially since my original class year had already graduated. All in all, I knew starting over again would be hard but I didn’t expect to encounter the unique challenges that would come with readmittance.
So, here are four things I wish I knew when I became a readmitted student:
1. All of your accounts might still be deactivated.
New and readmitted students have a different enrollment date than everyone else in which we inconveniently have to sign up for courses the day before actual classes start. For campus residents, it’s also the same day we move in.
(This year, the online course registration for new and readmitted students is from Tuesday, August 27 to Friday, August 30)
The troubling thing about being a readmitted student is that your accounts might still be deactivated even after you’ve paid your tuition and been accepted back. When I logged into the Mills Portal at 9 a.m., I was blocked from accessing course registration and had to make frantic phone calls and send emails to the school to get it fixed. Unfortunately, I was too late and couldn’t even make it onto the waitlist for two of my classes required for my major so I had to rework my schedule. Fortunately, the professors I emailed allowed me to take their course.
My login also didn’t work at the Mills Library or any of the computer labs until I called up the Help Desk because I was still registered as an alumnae.
You know the one thing the system will still remember about you? Library fines.
2. There will be a lot of false starts and genuinely sad moments that will make you want to give up again.
I was at the Tea Shop one day when I was approached by another student who invited me to join her and her friend for lunch. I recognized them from class and my heart warmed with gratitude as I had been eating by myself a lot and was thankful to finally have some company.
As I made my way over, I noticed they were both wearing a colored armband with a clothespin attached to it. Around that same time, they were both competing in the exciting campus event called the ‘Hunger Games,’ which was modeled and named after the wildly popular book and film franchise.
The game went like this: each ‘tribute’ was issued a target’s photo, dormitory and name which they could use to snatch away another’s clothespin without resorting to violence or threats. Tributes ran around campus stalking their targets as well as trying to avoid being ‘killed’ by another tribute. There was a swarm of excitement as scores of names were being crossed off the Hunger Games poster at Adams Plaza everyday.
One of the designated safe zones happened to be the Tea Shop.
With this in mind, that’s when things started to get weird. Although we were all friendly during the first few minutes, their eyes kept darting away from mine. They would joke that they saw their intended killer in the same room and they were merely watching out for them. But the chemistry was still off and I found it very difficult to keep their attention. I ended up having a one-sided conversation and being the only one talking and asking questions.
I kept thinking I was being too boring or we simply weren’t connecting, which was okay by all means. But they would get up from the table one at a time to get their lunch order and at two separate times, left me by myself with their bags and books. It wasn’t until I was crying on the phone to my boyfriend later that night did it finally hit me that they were actually using me to watch over their belongings so they wouldn’t be ambushed by other tributes.
I don’t believe those two classmates intended to be malicious and perhaps they were too wrapped up in the game that day to know any better. Unfortunately, their actions further reinforced the deep fears and insecurities I had about myself — that I would be unable to connect with others and make friends. I still attended class on time and did my assignments though I spent the next week in a very dark mood, thinking my new start would again come to an abrupt halt.
3. But all is not for naught.
When you’ve hit rock bottom, the only way you can go is up.
The one thing I was most thankful for when I got back to Mills was when a former Campanil news editor hit me up on Facebook one day to ask if I wanted to hang out. Although I’ve only seen her around in the newsroom, she had always been a kind soul to everybody including me. She told me she wished she got to know me better before I left school and was glad to see that I was back in town. I initially didn’t think much about her offer as I was still uncomfortable with opening myself up but finally mustered up the courage to join her on one outing with her friends.
I was immediately thrown into these ridiculously fun weekly adventures. We had bikram yoga every Friday night at Berkeley, rode AC Transit and BART everywhere, went to an Art Murmur, got lost in downtown Oakland in search of craft beer, and even explored the teeny-tiny Koreatown near Telegraph.
I laughed, gossiped and made merry with peers who enjoyed my company as well. It was simply the happiest I’ve been as a college student in a long time and I finally understood what it meant to have the college experience.
4. Getting a good grade in a class you’ve once failed feels super awesome.
As a readmitted student, I can’t change the failed grades I’ve received before but I had a second chance to improve upon those mistakes. I fell back into a familiar routine but was able to cut out most of my bad habits.
Honestly, even just the act of showing up to class was a huge self-esteem booster. I had to remember all the times I regretted not attending class and channel those feelings to make myself get out of bed. I even started making to-do lists as it was visually satisfying to cross something off after I was done with it.
I battled my own demons and suppressed the inner voices of self-doubt to get through each day until I came out of it with a 4.0 semester GPA, which was the best I’ve ever done at Mills.
It was, of course, no walk in the park for my mental health. The only thing I wish I had time to do was attend the Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) on campus and have a professional to talk to who could help me relieve the intense stress I went through that year.
Still, getting that 4.0? That definitely helped a lot.