While I was coursing my junior and sophomore year of high school, my mental health got really bad (depression, anxiety, panic attacks, suicide attempts, the lot) this caused my grades to be severely impacted and affected my overall gpa. My senior year I was doing a lot better and managed to improve my academic performance, but the damage was already done, and by the time I graduated hs I had a significantly low gpa. It’s now been two and a half years since my graduation and due to economic circumstances, family issues, and recurrent metal health struggles I haven’t been able to apply to college. It wasn’t until recently that I finally was able to get financial support to pay for my education and got in touch with an advisor (bc I really want to study abroad), the only problem is that the requirements for the gpa are too high compared to what I have, and apparently the embassy interview for my student visa will ask me why I havent been studying these past two years (And that might influence wether or not Im given the visa all).
I’m worried that my history of mental illness might affect my chances of achieving my goal. I’m frustrated because even though I’ve been in treatment for so many years now I still find myself falling back down and unable to recover fully, and I keep falling into old patterns and behaviors. I don’t know if I should talk about it in my college application or to the visa agent or even to my advisor, in hope that they might give me a chance to prove myself beyong the illness . I‘m just so close to giving up on my dream and just going to a local school. I wish I could start over and just not get sick. How do I overcome this overwhelming feeling of guilt and anger and frustration? How do I come to terms with what my mental illness has taken from me and what it might take still?
Before the answer to your ask begins, I, Jude, would like to say that if you need any help with college admissions, I can help you. I not only work in the industry, but I've been through the process before. Feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com:
You are never too old to achieve your goals. Kudos to you for going back to school AND for kicking butt in the mental health department!
It is never too late for you to go to school or for you to better yourself in any kind of way. Education is ultimately an investment in your future. It’s easy to be hard on yourself when you are struggling and other people aren’t, so don’t ever compare yourself because you will always come up short.
If it helps at all, one of the newer directions of teaching here in the US is called trauma-informed teaching, where educators need to learn about trauma and the effects it has on young folks (https://www.edutopia.org/article/how-and-why-trauma-informed-teaching). The idea is that more and more young people are struggling with some sort of trauma or issue that are too big to tackle alone, and educators need to consider this. Because of this, schools are becoming more flexible and adaptable to accommodate students’ needs--including yours. I recommend looking at schools that are at the forefront of accommodating students, particularly their struggles and disabilities.
My only question is: do you feel ready? If not, then there is absolutely no shame in trying again at a later time. You don’t even need to elaborate all that much; you can likely just tell the embassy that you are dealing with some medical issues and will come back when you are okay. If you feel ready, then take the plunge, but prepare yourself as best as you can. And I have some ways to do so.
Is there a way to simply describe the gap in schooling as a medial leave of some sort? I would imagine that no one would question a gap from something lengthy like cancer treatment. If you worked or volunteered during that time period, you can simply cite that. Some folks have to work right out of high school to save up for college or to support their families, so the gap can’t be that out of the ordinary. You might need to provide documentation, so I recommend using an eventuating circumstance where you have proof, such as a doctor's note (which you can get from your medical advisor), an employment contract, and so on.
Is there a way to keep up with treatment while you’re abroad? I imagine that, with all the elehealth options for people seeking physical or mental healthcare, you would be able to utilize this. If you have a current mental healthcare provider, see if they can do some sort of Telehealth or distance treatments. Asking Jude has some great and affordable Telehealth options, so feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Maybe you can see what options the school offers; many colleges and universities offer some sort of counseling services. If you take medication, can you have it mailed to your new school address? Hopefully, your insurance will not cause extra headaches for wherever you land.
Build your support system while you’re home. How close are you with your family or friends? Maybe schedule a weekly video or phone call with someone from home. Or maybe when you’re just out running errands, call up a friend and catch up with them. Thanks to the pandemic, there are so many options out there to keep in touch with loved ones! Do what is most comfortable for you.
It might also help to learn what you can about student living spaces and resources available to you. You can then use this to start rebuilding those study and work habits, so you can get to school ready to learn! I also recommend seeing about attendance policies and syllabi/workloads as much as you can, so you can see what is and isn’t feasible for you. Make sure you find out what resources are available on campus for you so you can make the most of your time there.
I would also imagine any school that accepts international students would have organizations with such students’ needs in mind, so avail yourself of any opportunities you have to connect with supportive adults and to make new friends. I wouldn’t be surprised if you are going to meet other students who are different ages and from all different backgrounds and situations; this should make it easier for you to get comfortable and make new friends. I’m sure that someone else in the program is dealing with something like you are right now.
Speaking of habits, here are some handy links so you can get back into that learner mindset:
Here are some links on how to prepare yourself for studying abroad:
Please don’t hesitate to reach back out if you have any questions. Good luck!
Hello there! I'm so sorry for the delay in your response. Unfortunately, there were personal and professional obligations that made maintaining Asking Jude very difficult. Thankfully, those difficulties have subsided and won't be occurring anytime soon.
As compensation for this extremely long wait time, I'd like to offer you remote, live peer counselling session free of charge. I'm sending you an e-mail with more information on this now!
Until then, one of our peer counsellors will be answering your ask. Please, stay strong!