College, My Favorite Rollercoaster

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College is a truly amazing point in life. It’s the biggest step towards your future that you’ll take; meeting lifelong friends, choosing a major and preparing for the real world. Any college graduate will tell you that their time in college was extremely pivotal and worthwhile, but it wasn’t easy. The three years I have under my belt has led me to think of college as my favorite roller coaster.

I started my freshman year at UW-Madison moving up. Slowly but surely, I gained momentum as I dawned my UW T-shirts, met amazing friends and found academic success in my engineering classes. Then the ride took a drop: my first calculus midterm.

I was 30 minutes late to my very first college exam and needless to say, I didn’t do well. I failed the exam and didn’t feel too confident about salvaging my grade after talking with my professor. Instead of dropping the class, I decided to keep it in an attempt to prove myself.

My semester of hard work actually paid off and I finished the class with a low “B,” securing a spot on the dean’s list my first semester. “Not bad,” I thought, as the coaster leveled out and began moving upwards again.

The following spring, my confidence dropped after another sudden nose dive. I struggled through another five months of engineering courses and nearly failed the entire semester. The abrupt plummet from the peak of the dean’s list to the depths of probation was hard to handle. At first, realizing my ideal major wouldn’t be engineering left me defeated. I started kissing my well-paying future goodbye.

After talking things through with my parents, I realized my situation had sent me a clear message. I needed to try something entirely different.  I changed the direction of my sophomore schedule and took an intro English course. To my surprise, I fell in love.

I loved working with words, crafting original ideas and sharing my thoughts on paper. I couldn’t believe I could possibly take such a sharp turn in majors, but that’s the nature of the coaster. I let the ride take me along its destined course and lead me to my unanticipated dream major: English.

I was riding high after finally finding my passion, but I was simultaneously struggling through an intro economics course. Despite a valiant effort, I ended up flunking the class. I was bummed, but didn’t let it crush me. Knowing English was my new path helped me stay firm in my seat during the nauseating twist.

I thought I’d be prepared for any potential craziness, given the progression of my college ride. However, the second drop continued farther and faster during my Christmas break. I received a letter in the middle of break notifying my family that I’d been expelled from the university. My probation status in the college of engineering and failed econ class were to blame. Talk about panic.

Despite my optimism in the face of my failed class, the consequences had caught up to me. My dream school had kicked me out. I couldn’t help but imagine leaving my amazing friends and home away from home. The college of engineering contacted me personally to let me know the troubling news, but included one sliver of hope. I was allowed to write an appeals letter to the college requesting readmission. I rallied what was left of my confidence and (ironically) used the skills I’d learned in my English class to craft an appeal proposal – my best piece of writing to date.

After a month of severe fretting, I found out I won my appeal and re-secured my spot at UW Madison. The college coaster shot upwards from its lightning fast nose dive. Since changing my major and riding through the bumps, college has been amazing.

As much of a nightmare my experience was, I would go through it all over again. College functions exactly like a roller coaster; the highs are incredible but the lows will test you. After each of my failures, I learned invaluable lessons that no class, professor or TA could ever teach me.

No matter what test I fail or course I struggle through, I know not to get overwhelmed by the wild ride. Now, I just buckle in, sit tight and enjoy the rise, falls, loop-dee-loops and everything in between.


I am a Senior at UW-Madison studying English, Comm Arts, and Digital Studies. I’m a media junky, especially for movies and video games. Kowabunga readers!

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