“My friends and I still say FRCC had the best teachers and the best classes we’ve taken.”
Kevin had a pretty typical childhood in Fort Collins. He did reasonably well throughout elementary and middle school—he had friends and got good at skateboarding. But he started to struggle with some pretty serious anxiety in high school.
“I had trouble socializing with kids at school. It brought out a lot of worry in me because of both the social and academic aspects. I was more comfortable staying in my room, reading and playing video games, or going skating with my friends.”
Falling Behind in School
By his junior year, school just wasn’t really a place he wanted to be. He started getting in a lot of trouble with his grades and falling behind on his learning.
Senior year, it got worse. “My anxiety got really intense. I couldn’t talk in class. I never wanted to go to school—I ditched a lot.”
When teachers would do ice breaker activities or team building exercises—or start class discussions in which students were required to participate—Kevin would ask to use the restroom to escape. But he would actually hide out in the library until he thought it was safe to go back. “That was one of hardest years of my life.”
Big Bad News
Kevin wasn’t the only one who noticed that things weren’t going well. Early in the school year, his teachers sat down with him and his mom, and told them he wasn’t going to graduate at end of year if he stayed on his current path.
They laid out a grueling schedule he would have to follow if he wanted to graduate on time. “They said this is what you’re going to have to do: Take a full schedule, plus a class after school. Plus you’ll have to complete nine online classes by the end of the year. My advisor said he didn’t think it was possible.”
Motivated to get out of high school, Kevin gave it his all. But halfway through the first semester, he just couldn’t handle all the pressure. “I couldn’t deal with my anxiety anymore.”
Finally, Some Relief
Kevin and his mom met with the school counselor, and talked to his teachers for special accommodations that would help with his anxiety level. (For example, he would no longer have to present in front of the class.) This gave him a huge sense of relief.
He continued to go to school, diligently completed his homework and did his extra online classes. By the end of first semester, he was doing reasonably well. “I finished six online classes that semester. My GPA had been awful up to that point—but this helped a lot.” After first semester, he felt good—like this new setup was working. “It felt good to get good grades. I found a new sense for wanting to learn.”
He continued to get good grades second semester, and by the middle of the term, he had finished all of his extra online classes. That spring he graduated on time with his class.
Life After High School
After commencement, Kevin had no plans to go to college because “the last thing I wanted to do was go back to school,” he laughs. But his mom pushed him to consider it because he had done so well in his final semester of high school. She got him to meet with an advisor at FRCC who helped him register and asked what he was interested in.
The previous year of hiding out in the high school library had given Kevin exposure to some new subjects. “I spent a lot of time learning about the stars and physics, galaxies, the universe—just reading on my own.” So he decided to study physics at FRCC, planning to complete a two-year associate degree. “It was the first time I was ever excited about anything school related.”
He met with the disability support services staff and arranged to have similar accommodations to his high school classes. “I was so scared and nervous,” he remembers. “I walked into my first class—it was philosophy—and the professor understood what was going on and was really supportive.”