Ask Dr. Christina: Should I Go to College?

Dear Dr. Christina,
I am graduating from high school this year. I am going to college, but I was unable to get into a good college because my SAT scores were very low.  My brother told me I was an idiot and my parents told me that I was just a girl and I shouldn’t go to college. Instead, they said that I should just get a job and get married.  I am not a good test taker and my teachers told me I would never make it in college anyway. They suggested that maybe I should consider going to some vocational school so I could learn a trade.  No one seems to believe in me.  I would like to at least try. My parents are refusing to help me financially because they are paying for my brother’s tuition. I was thinking about going to school at night and maybe finding a job during the day so I could help pay for my education.  Am I just a dreamer and a loser like they say I am? Can you give me some ideas about how I could still go to college even if nobody believes I can do it?  Do you agree with them that I am just too stupid and that all of this is just a waste of time and money because I didn’t get into a four-year school?


Dear Lin,
I totally appreciate the fact that you had the courage to write me.  In no way are you stupid.  I can guarantee you that just because you cannot make a good score on a standardized test does not mean that you will not make it in school.  There are many factors involved in taking the SAT or any other standardized test. Some are culture, language, anxiety, not feeling well, and others. There is a question as to the validity of those tests in determining how well a student will do in the future.  It’s true that someone could be a great test-taker but have no common sense. That individual may even have some problems in the work force because of their inability to reason out simple problems.  Then there are those that have a hard
time taking these types of tests and who have the best common sense. They are truly what employers are looking for.  You may think you would like to be in the group that are great test-takers and who have great common sense, but you do not have to be.

It is sometimes hard when a family, depending on their culture, has the male son take the lead in education while the women are expected to assume and assimilate with their cultural roles and beliefs.

I think you are a genius to come up with the idea of working during the day and going to school at night.  The first two years of college are really filled with the idea of making the adjustment from high school to college life. You mostly take core courses and very few electives as to the subject that you want to major in.  Oftentimes schools will look at your
whole record and the progression of your grades as well as whether you were working during the time of your education. Schools will also look at your personality and whether you appear to have common sense.

I would like to share with you that I was also not a very good standardized test-taker either. My teachers told me I would never make it as a professional and that I was too dumb to go to a real college.  They told my parents I should go learn a trade in a vocational school, just like you.  As a matter of fact, I went to a community college (a two-year college). I thought that that was the best place to start because my classes were smaller. As a result, I had more oneon-one contact with my professors instead of being lost in a class of 200-500 students.  I was therefore able to learn the coursework better so I gained self-confidence and self-esteem, which helped me make great grades. We were even studying from the same books as the four-year colleges, so it was much easier for me when it came time to think about my third and fourth year. That is the point during your education when you will decide what you truly want to specialize or major in and study more in depth.

If you study diligently, you can make some really great grades in a community college. Just make sure it is an accredited school so  you can transfer to a larger college or university when you graduate.

Never let anyone, whether it is a teacher, parent or friend, dampen your dreams or your desires in life.  There is nothing wrong with getting a job and/or getting married and having children. That in itself is a phenomenal career. However, if you feel that you would like to go to college, then do it. Remember: you can do anything you set your mind to.  As far as the finances, oftentimes money can be provided by the schools to help with this. Go to the career and financial counselors in the financial aid office and ask questions regarding available funding options such as grants, scholarships and other financial aid that will enable you to get into the college of your choice.  To be honest with you, it really does not matter what school you choose. It is the idea that you get an education and learn whatever you are passionate about.  Some people feel we can only be someone if we go to the Ivy League schools, but you can proceed into any career you want as long as your education is from an accredited school.  There is one thing that matters for some schools: your GPA (Grade Point Average). Try to get good grades, especially in your third and fourth years, in case you want to further your education and go on to be a physician, lawyer, CPA, MBA etc….

So Lin, for someone who could not take standardized tests and the facts that I was a slow learner who had to pay for my older brother’s education, and I came from a poor family, any dream is possible.  I wanted to become a physician. I was able to do that because I had to believe in myself. I promised myself that I would pursue my dreams at all costs. I worked five jobs and went to night school, just like you.

You too can do the same thing. I know you can, as long as no one else gets in the way of your beliefs and dreams.

I am so proud of you for reaching out and for sharing with me your concerns regarding going to school.  You are not stupid. A lot of times people just don’t realize how smart and brilliant you are until they see how determined you are to reach your dreams.

If there is any way I can be of further help, please do not hesitate to write me.  I am so proud of you and I wish you the very best.

With all of my respect and thoughts that you can reach any goal,

Dr. Christina

  • Posted By: doctorc
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  • Comments: 1

One comment on “Ask Dr. Christina: Should I Go to College?

  1. Kelly Rowell on said:

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