People and Untold Stories

How to Turn Your Life Around: From Failing College to 4.0 PhD Student

I was almost kicked out of my University in 2013.

I didn’t care about school.

I hated my General Education classes and never studied.

I failed 2 math classes, 2 psychology classes, and almost failed other courses. I was an Elementary Education Major. I already had experience in the classroom and loved teaching! Sitting in my education courses made me unmotivated and never cared enough to ask my instructors for help. At best I was getting C’s in my major classes. I just wasn’t having fun and didn’t see the point.

As an undergraduate in college, my GPA was below a 2.0. I was on Academic Probation and told that if I did not get my GPA above a 2.0 by the end of the year, I would have to leave.


My parents really thought I wasn’t going to finish college.


They were beyond frustrated with me, and just didn’t know how to motivate me. In what I view as a last ditch effort, they took me to tour a much smaller, private university. They thought that transferring there and having smaller classes with teachers who knew my name and cared enough to reach out to me, would help.

While visiting the private University, I met with a career counselor. She had me complete a Myers Briggs personality assessment, and she talked with me about my career goals, my skills, and my other interests. This was not a magical experience that instantly changed my life. But it started a journey that has led me to find my passion and purpose.

The career counselor told me that if I really wanted to teach, I could get a communications degree (which might be easier). I would just have to take a year after college to get my teaching certificate. I did not end up transferring to the private school. But I enrolled in an Intro to Interpersonal Communications course at my university.

I had so much fun in that class. I was learning about communication techniques that would help me to better inspire, lead, and work with other people. These are skills and values that were (and are) very important to me, and that I could use in my daily life, as well as in my future career. The class instructor exuded these skills. She didn’t just lecture, she challenged, mentored, and motivated us.

The complete turnaround.


I finished that class with an A+. I switched my major to Communication Studies, and learned more about effectively connecting with people around me. I got all A’s and B’s for the rest of my college career and graduated with a 3.75 GPA!
I’ve changed my career path a couple times since switching to Communications. I went from Elementary Education, to Missionary/Non-Profit, ESL instructor (Master’s degree 4.0), to College professor/Online Business owner (PhD 4.0). I’m still educating, and still using my communication skills-every day.

I thought I wasn’t smart enough.


But with the help and support of others, I’ve achieved more than I ever dreamed. Someone else along the way told me, “Don’t worry about finding the right thing. Just find what you don’t like.” I’ve been doing that for more than 5 years, and it’s working. Every year I’ve learned more about what I don’t like, and don’t want to do. And now I know (and am pursuing and starting) the perfect job for me. All I did was pursue skills and values that I wanted to learn and use, and identify jobs that I did not want to do.

So if that’s you: If you feel inadequate, hopeless, and just don’t know what to do, I’d advise you to keep trying. Talk with people who know you. Find and pursue your interests. Search for free online courses and training. It won’t happen overnight, and it will take some effort. But I found my purpose, and you can too! We all start from somewhere. You can be happy and be successful too. Both Dani and I want you to achieve your dreams. If you’re stuck, reach out to us. We’d love to chat with you more and listen to your goals!

How to Turn Your Life Around - From Failing College to 4.0 PhD Student

About the Guest Contributor

Corinne Van Ryckeghem of CVR Life of Learning: Languages, Grad School, Adventure
Corinne Van Ryckeghem from CVR Life of Learning: Languages, Grad School, Adventure

Corrine is a PhD student in Linguistics. She teaches college courses, and she’s starting her own online business where she helps others learn languages or apply to graduate school. But it took many years to get to where she is. She hasn’t always been a good student or a motivated learner with career goals but she is a living proof that we can turn our lives around and direct it to where we want it to go.


Connect with Corinne:

Website | Facebook

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How to Turn Your Life Around

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10 thoughts on “How to Turn Your Life Around: From Failing College to 4.0 PhD Student

  1. Love this! While I was in high school we did work experience, so we got to choose three different careers that we were thinking about pursuing, and actually work in each of the three places for three weeks each. Honestly it was one of the best things for me. I learned the easy way and MUCH less expensive way what I didn’t want to do and that is just as important as finding what you want to do. I’m totally with you, you gotta try things out and see how they go. Often the idea of something is very different from the reality of it. Great post!

  2. This truly is inspirational, thank you so much for sharing; I’m actually a high school dropout. I haven’t been in school for six years until I finally decided to go back. I am currently upgrading and going for my adult dogwood (a fancy word for the adult version of a high school diploma in BC), and after that, I am going for a welding course; social work; and interior design. I know it’s a lot to go for, but I am confident and determined! 🙂

  3. It makes a huge difference when you find the right path. Had I attempted nursing in my twenties, I a) never would have gotten in with my D average in high school, and b) would have failed immediately because I didn’t know what I wanted to do at that age. Now…all A’s in nursing school in my 40’s. Great post Corrine! 🙂

  4. It is amazing how a certain person can totally change your world around. It’s also incredible too to realize all the false beliefs we sometimes hold dearly like “I’m not smart/I’m not a good student/I can’t do this” etc, and to then turn those around with a shift in perspective. Very inspirational, Danica <3

  5. This is so important!!! So many people are obsessed with finding their “calling” and sometimes that can be really discouraging if you’re unsure of yourself. Finding something you don’t like is good advice to anyone starting out!

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