How do i get back in school?
October 30, 2012 4:09 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to petition to get back into my college.

in winter 2009, I was diagnosed with biopolar disorder. i lelt my college, Collegeton College, immediately and have been receiving treatment in a mental health treatment center since.
previous to me leaving Collegeton, i had dropped and withdrawn from a lot of courses. last spring semester (spring 2012, my first semseter back since spring 2008) i returned to school but dropped
one course. i got decent grades that semester but because i dropped one course i was out of completion rate compliance. the school told me to do 40 or so credit hours outside of
school then come back to be evaluated. i told my psychiatrist about this and she voluntarily reccommeded that she write the school a note excusing my completion rate stating that i was misdiagnosed previous to winter 2009 (when i was still diagnosed with depression) and was on the wrong medication and treatment plan which account for my poor completion rate then.

i still decided to take community college over the summer and this current fall to strengthen my argument but got a D in one of my courses. So I'm just not going to mention that i took any courses since leaving Collegeton. My question is, what are some good things i could say to Collegeton if they ask me what i've been doing with my time since being out at school? i've been doing some things outside
of taking community college courses but really not much.

Thanks everyone.
posted by defmute to Education (11 answers total)
Say that you were underperforming due to an illness that is now in treatment and that you are confident that, given another opportunity, you will successfully meet the requirements.
posted by greta simone at 4:16 PM on October 30, 2012

I would recommend against not mentioning the college courses you've taken since you've been away. Can you take another semester and replace the grade of D? That way your time isn't wasted. Collegeton College might decide to search to see if you've attended elsewhere and if they find out you lied it won't look good (they may not search at all, but it's a risk.) If you choose to leave it off you'll have also wasted that time and money, and you'll have to re-take the classes elsewhere if the "take 40 credit hours" thing is a concrete rule.

As for what you've been doing, mention the psychiatrist and mention any improvements that you've made emotionally. Colleges like to know that you've "learned your lesson" as far as making it through classes during tough times. I'd mention any coping skills you've learned, things you're doing to manage your disorder, and what steps you'll take (or have taken at Community College if you decide to mention them) so that you can make it through your classes without dropping. Mention that you're on medication and in a treatment plan to manage your disorder.

The psychiatrist note is definitely a good idea, from my experience colleges look favorably on notes from professionals. (I had to do the whole "please let me take classes here again" thing as well because I had too many W's.)
posted by Autumn at 4:18 PM on October 30, 2012

You could also petition to be part-time with the expectation that your re-admission to the full-time program be dependent upon your positive performance.
posted by greta simone at 4:18 PM on October 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Thanks everyone. I didn't think about offering to do part time first.
posted by defmute at 4:57 PM on October 30, 2012

It might help to walk in with a solid academic plan listing the courses you plan to take by semester from your readmission to meeting the graduation requirements. Show how the number of credits/semester will be reasonable for you, that you haven't put too many classes that will be particularly challenging for you together, that you have suitable alternate plans in the event that you need to drop another course in the future (though, of course, you aren't planning on doing so), and that you've thought through all the relevant requirements and prerequisites.

I do want to make sure that you really are ready to go back though, and aren't just looking to do so because you believe its expected of you. A D in a college class isn't the end of the world by any means, but I'd be concerned that you're setting yourself to petitioning to do something where you're not yet in a strong position to succeed. Is there an explanation for what made that class an aberration? Perhaps you can take the course again or take a related class to show that you've overcome that?
posted by zachlipton at 5:38 PM on October 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Collegeton College might decide to search to see if you've attended elsewhere and if they find out you lied it won't look good

They can't legally get your records without your written permission.
posted by bradbane at 5:43 PM on October 30, 2012

They can find out if you've attended another college, though.
posted by Autumn at 6:15 PM on October 30, 2012

I did this exact thing successfully. MeMail me for more details; I'd rather not talk about specifics in the open.
posted by griphus at 6:29 PM on October 30, 2012

What I'd do right now is petition the college you attended this summer to drop that D. Most schools won't let you do that after a certain amount of time's passed, often not more than a year. Take advantage of your psychiatrist's offer, and be persistent about filling in the documentation, and pushing through that process. Otherwise you'll have to make explanations for the rest of your academic life.

Which doesn't mean it's the end of it. This was me a bit over a year ago. I gained admittance to the undergrad program I wanted, after following the advice given there and above.

I took a couple of evening (credit-carrying) courses at a not-so-competitive university as a visiting student. I did ONE course per term, which meant I was able to get As.

I received excellent personal guidance from the non-trad students coordinator at the university I'm currently attending (before applying). She made sure I dotted every i on the many forms I had to fill, and helped me shape the mess I linked to into a persuasive letter of support (which was an optional part of the application; highly recommended if that opportunity exists). Find out which hero at Collegeton can help you do the same.

I was honest about all my failures (included all my stinky transcripts in the app, and yes, I flinched when I mailed it in, for about a week, probably) but addressed each of them with documentation. I didn't try to victimize myself in the letter - I wrote maybe one sentence per event, addressing things in a sort of matter-of-fact way - and instead emphasized successes in other parts of my life (work, hobbies, etc). I also demonstrated knowledge about my current field of study (with reference to particular areas of research), and made clear links with my future goals.

Not to pat myself on the back, but I feel I succeeded because I was able to evidence my interest, demonstrate academic rehabilitation, etc. And I was able to do that because I'd made a bit of headway in sort of general life skills. (Which, by the way, took me about a year and a half after a total meltdown. I'd been laid off, ended an abusive LTR, and moved countries in three months.)

I'll be done this program by next December, though.

Anyway - yes you can get past this! But get that D taken care of, and most importantly, take care of yourself.
posted by nelljie at 8:21 PM on October 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Strongly second zachlipton, though, on biting off much less than you think you can chew for a while. Even if you delay full-time study for another year, if you use that time to consciously work on building any coping skills you might need, it'll serve you better in the long run.
posted by nelljie at 8:55 PM on October 30, 2012

While bradbane is correct that colleges can't get your transcripts without your permission, as Autumn says, they can check if you've been enrolled in classes at other colleges, since most colleges in the U.S. submit enrollment data to the National Student Clearinghouse.

For this reason--and also because you have few other major activities to cite, and, of course, for the sake of integrity--I would not hide your community college enrollment. You have decent grades in your other classes; that's something that you can play up. What was your D in? If it's in a field that is not your strength or your major, if you worked hard to get the grade you did, or if you can spin it as having learned some lessons about how to study and manage your time and health effectively, those are things you can play up. If you're currently enrolled in classes, do the best you can in them, to mitigate the impact of that D.

The fact that you've been consistently working with a psychiatrist is wonderful, and her letter could potentially be very helpful to your case. College readmission committees can be pretty picky about exactly what they want you to do to demonstrate readiness to return, though; while there's certainly a chance that they'll waive the 40-credit requirement on receiving your psychiatrist's note, I wouldn't necessarily count on this. (That's another reason to disclose the community college coursework, actually, regardless of whether you can remove the D from your record: so that it can count toward your 40 credits.)

And yes! Write a letter or essay of support, if you can. But do keep it succinct. I submitted 12 single-spaced pages with my (rejected, although not solely for that reason) application to return to my original college. This was not a good idea. Indeed, I was amused to note that the college added a length limit (of 2-4 pages) after that semester! So yeah, don't do that.
posted by beryllium at 7:52 AM on October 31, 2012

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