Some people already know the following story I am going to tell; others do not. I share in the interest of transparency, the hope that someone may proactively learn a lesson, and the prayer that someone who was or is in a similar situation may be encouraged and exhorted.
I never finished high school. That is, not in terms of graduation. In my senior year of high school, in the late winter-early spring, I finally realized that there was no way I was going to graduate without coming back another year. That was not something I was willing to do. I had gotten myself in that situation mostly by being lazy and disorganized; I had developed bad habits that were not going to be easy to break. So I left. I took the GED test, passed it, and figured I’d go on to college, where all my problems would be solved.
Some of you likely smirked, because you can see where this is going. The habits I had developed were not helpful, and not easy to get rid of—not that I tried very hard. I skipped classes, didn’t do homework, and generally did not study for tests or quizzes. It was a minor miracle I managed to pass my classes that first semester. But I didn’t pass all my classes that second semester, and each semester seemed to be just as bad as the one before it.
Finally, I came to the place where I realized I had to either get serious about school or simply quit. I realized I had spent too much time and too much money to walk away with nothing. So, while the road from there was hardly smooth, I determined to finish. And eventually, I managed to turn four academic years into six (seven and a half years of actual time), but I finally graduated. The habits I developed beforehand were laziness, procrastination, self-serving behaviors, and quitting. These habits are not easy to break, and I still deal with repercussions from these attitudes even now. The point of the story is this: yes, you can go from high-school dropout to PhD student. But the only reason I got there is God’s work in my life, and even then only after a lot of pain. I still have to learn most, if not nearly all, of my lessons the hard way. Don’t be the same (and I pray I won’t be going forward, as well!).