college essay

January 19, 2009
By Joe Kurkiewicz, Hartland, WI

When I was in sixth grade at St. Charles Elementary School, I experienced many failures. Every science test I took, no matter how much I studied, no matter how much my parents helped me, I failed. The same went for literature, math, and social studies.

This trend continued into my seventh grade year. Then one day, as I was walking with my class to church, I was asked by a woman to follow her to the library. At the time, I had no idea what was happening, nor did I know why she had folders and a tape recorder. Then she hit me with it: “I’m here to test you.” Suddenly, I felt like fainting. The whole time, I thought Why am I getting tested? I’m not dumb!

She tested me for two hours before she let me go. When I got home, I told my parents what happened, and they told me that I might have a learning disability. I sat there in disbelief, wondering how I was going to make it on my own if I really did have a disability.

Months later I was tested again. This time I had to answer certain questions, many of which I had no clue. My parents were overwhelmed to hear that I was on the border line of having a disability. After I heard this, I feared I would wind up in a special education class in high school.

Luckily, my learning disability wasn’t severe enough to put me in a special education class. However, this worried my parents because they thought I would get lost in high school. We then heard of a new program that Arrowhead High School had designed. It was a class for students like me where help was always available in difficult classes. A guidance counselor and an administrator from the school came and interviewed me, and they asked me questions and recorded my answers on tape. About a week later, they sent a letter, telling us I had made it into this program. I was no longer stressed, and my parents were no longer worried about me going to high school.

The minute I started high school, the teachers in the program saw I was a very hard worker and I stood out from the rest of the students. As the first semester of my freshman year was winding down, they approached me, saying I had exceeded all of their expectations and could choose whether or not I wanted to be in the program anymore. Although I had enjoyed this program, I wanted to opt-out of it second semester to see how well I could do on my own. I made a good decision because I passed every class I had, and I had a grade point average I was proud of.

I got through my sophomore and junior years, remembering what I had learned in the program. I learned I had to be a champion for myself. I needed to get help when needed and always be in communication with my teachers.

This experience has taught me life lessons I will use from here on out. From being tested and being in the program, I’ve learned I must always get help from my educators when I’m having difficulties. I must try hard on my own at all times so I will be successful in college and my life after school. I have never been the best or smartest student, but I never give up and I always work hard, no matter what.

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