From Uncertainty to Dean’s List: How Small Changes Result in Big Wins
By Anderson Jaggernauth
Being featured on The College Tour was one of the most shining moments of my community college experience. It was a dream come true that allowed me to share my story with the world. But before any of this could happen, there were some life-changing events and drastic changes that needed to happen before I could be where I am today and write this to you.
Growing up, like many other children, I spent too many hours doing things that did not constructively utilize my time. Instead, I spent hours playing video games and watching hours-on-hours of late-night television shows. See, I grew up in a household where both parents worked many hours to keep the family afloat, which meant that I had a lot of unsupervised time on my hand to be unproductive. Which evenly took its toll, and the results showed. It showed in my lackluster performances at school and my behaviors toward life, and it showed on my report card. At that time, I was going through the motions and looking forward to being free from school responsibilities.
After graduating high school and not knowing what I wanted to be, I knew that going to college was the next step. That semester after graduating high school, I enrolled in the local community college, CCBC, or The Community College of Baltimore County, where the school’s motto is, See What You Can Be. A simple yet impactful statement that I would later grasp. At that time, the school motto did not mean much to me, but I wanted to see who I could be. Attending college for the first time was amazing! It was liberating, thrilling, exhilarating, and refreshing all at once. It was a different feeling, a feeling of being in a new environment and having a change in scenery from my day-to-day life. There were so many people and things to do around campus, and I wanted to be involved in everything. I went into college very bright-eyed and with the best intentions to succeed, but that did not happen immediately. It took years of hard work, trial, error, and lost sleep. But it was all worth it!
When I began taking classes at CCBC, I realized that my bad habits from high school had followed me and began haunting me in college. I was taking five classes a semester, much like in high school, thinking I could get by as I did before, but I was wrong; it came with expectations and requirements, especially since I was receiving Financial Aid. That requirement meant I had to maintain a certain GPA and perform well enough to uphold my Financial Aid status. After having a series of unsuccessful semesters and having an all-time low GPA of 1.65, the school sent me a letter asking me to take a semester off. That was a devastating and shocking reality that struck me at my core. I came to college with every expectation to succeed and do well, but I did not have the skills necessary to be successful, and my bad habits and poor study skills were getting the best of me. I did not have the discipline it took to spend the necessary amounts of time on my assignments to get the grade that I needed to pass my classes, I did not have a reason as to why I was taking my classes because I did not know what I wanted to be in life, and I did not have the discipline I needed to ground myself and commit to taking my classes seriously. I was a swirling mess of chaos heading nowhere.
It was not until I met my then-girlfriend and now wife that my life and outlook toward my education changed. She was passionate about her education and had far more discipline than I ever did. She began to help me to develop the skills and discipline I needed to transform my grades and academic trajectory to the point where within 2-3 semesters, I was recognized on the Dean’s List. With her guidance, persistence, insistence, and strong desire to learn, my life began to change. She spent many hours tutoring me, coaching me, and counseling me so that I could be where I am today. Through her passion for her education, I saw the importance of education, and it paid off. At this point, I finally had the GPA needed to qualify for many opportunities around campus, such as joining the honors program, the student life ambassador program, and even becoming a member of Fresh Faces, where I was involved with promoting the college. These opportunities led to making connections with other students, which eventually caused me to hear about a casting call opportunity for The College Tour. Now at this point, I felt confident in my abilities and had developed the fortitude needed to try and fail without it impacting my confidence; that night, after spending hours recording and re-recording my casting video, I sent in what I believe to be the best one and the rest is history.
If there is only one thing you take away from this, it would be the importance of using your time, energy, and resources effectively. Additionally, the importance of choosing the company you keep because they will be your greatest influence. Lastly, remember that one day, all of the steps you take today will add up to a mile before you know it, so use your time wisely. And before I go, I will leave you with the title of my favorite childhood book by Dr. Seuss titled “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”