By an Anonymous User of Quora.
Short answer: It's never a good thing, but hopefully you can look back and laugh one day. It helps to be (over)confident and optimistic. Believing that you will be successful regardless of your education credentials goes a long way.
The Fat Envelope -- December 2005
At the end of the first semester of my senior year of high school (December 2005) I was accepted to a top liberal arts college as an early decision admit. I also received a substantial merit scholarship that my family and I were not expecting.
For background, my high school was very competitive. More than 100 students from each graduating class go on to Ivy League schools and many in the U.S. consider it the best public high school in the country. A downside was that students and parents alike were all obsessed with college admissions. Once I got into college, I was more pleased that I would not have to worry about college admissions anymore than I was about anything else.
I had not worked particularly hard in high school up to that semester. I was never the type to study much for exams -- grades usually came naturally, but I put in the work when I needed to.
Even after I received the fat envelope, I never made a conscious decision to slack off... it just happened.
The Honeymoon -- January to June 2006
As second semester started and I was infused with a newfound sense of confidence and certainty, I dropped an advanced math class I was taking and took what I thought would be the easier version of the class.
I started arriving 30-90 minutes late to school every day because my teachers didn't seem to mind (they all knew and liked me) and I had a lot of independence for an 18 year old.
I turned in papers late (if at all). I got a 65 percent on my AP English senior thesis that had a "-30 points for lateness" scribbled on it. That kind of thing happened a lot that semester.
Luckily, most of my classes were year-long courses in which I had previously performed well. Slacking off for a second semester senior -- to some extent -- was normal and I figured I would get Bs and Cs. That would have been fine. In the end, I passed all my classes except the "easy math" class because I skipped it (and the homework) so much.
The Divorce -- Summer 2006
My report card came back a bit lower than I had expected: F, D, D, D, D, C, B+. I think my bio teacher gave me the B+ she meant to give the kid who sat next to me, but I digress... I got worried.
When my college found out about my grades (I gave them a heads up, which was probably a mistake), they asked me to write a letter "explaining my actions." Meanwhile, my parents freaked out and demanded I see a psychologist. My high school guidance counselors told me I was screwed.
In response to my eight page letter apologizing for my missteps and promising that I would never do it again, etc., the college admission office rescinded my admission late that June. I was a little freaked out, but I don't remember it being that bad. My parents were far more frantic than I was.
I remember I kept thinking stuff like, "Michael Dell, Bill Gates, STEVE JOBS!" This is all part of the plan. Except they all at least started college...
The Rebound -- Mid-Summer 2006
Never willing to accept resignation (failure is OK in small doses; resignation is unforgivable), I immediately looked into my next options -- go to a city/community college or less prestigious school and hope to transfer or just go off somewhere far away for a year and apply again. My parents encouraged me to do the latter. They thought I wasn't ready for college and that I should go volunteer on a farm in a third world country or something like that. No.
After sending over 50 emails explaining my situation to college admissions offices around the country, I heard back from one large, second-tier state school that was willing to admit me. I figured they wanted to boost their incoming class' SAT scores (I had a near perfect score) and/or felt sorry for me. I accepted immediately.
I enrolled in the fall, joined a sports team and a fraternity, had fun, got straight A's, and applied to transfer back to the school that had originally rescinded me (along with 20 others).
A few schools, including the one that rescinded me, accepted me, but the overwhelming majority rejected me, as they should have. I wound up transferring back to my first choice school, which is the opposite in many ways of the East Coast state school I attended my freshman year. When I finally got there my sophomore year, I loved it.
I graduated a couple of years ago, majoring in economics with a minor in computer science. Now (2012) I live in SF, work in management consulting, dabble in tech, and will never slack off again like I did in high school.
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