College Success: Students Who Have Beaten the Odds

If you think college is out of your reach, think again. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have the grades, the money or the support of family, if you are willing to work hard, you can go to college. Students from lower economic backgrounds, returning military veterans and non-traditional students from all walks of life have succeeded despite the odds against them. They not only got into college, but excelled. Here are a few of their stories.

Going Back to School

Years ago, when she was in nursing school, Dana Hainer got a call that changed her life. She and her husband learned that they were approved for adoption. Dana dropped out of school to care for their newly adopted family member, who had multiple medical issues. As time passed, Dana’s situation changed. Her son grew up and Dana and her husband divorced. Determined to find the right school to fit her non-traditional circumstances, Dana entered the nursing program at Rasmussen College. The one-on-one attention she received enabled her complete the program in 2013 and rapidly re-enter the workforce.

It’s Never Too Late

Michael Hurley, a 65-year-old police officer in Texas, earned a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice by taking classes after work. While taking classes he dealt with brain tumor surgery and hurricane damage to his home. Through it all, he kept up with his studies. He obtained his degree in 2008. His four-year degree resulted in an automatic pay raise and opened up teaching opportunities at San Jacinto College. Hurley says, “Old men need their education, too.”

When There’s the Will, There’s a Way

Students in underserved communities have a tough time getting the grades and skills they need to get into college. Many communities offer intermediary programs that help students whose home situations are unstable. Anthony is a case in point. He was placed in the foster system when he nine and became homeless at age 15. Falling far behind academically, Anthony enrolled in the Gateway to College program that serves kids 16 to 21 years of age who have dropped out of school or are significantly behind their peers. The program gets them back on the path to academic success with the ultimate goal of earning a college degree. Since his enrollment, Anthony has earned over 100 high school credits, 25 college units and more than doubled his GPA. He graduated in the fall of 2012 and is currently studying at a community college with plans to transfer to a four-year institution.

The people in these success stories have one thing in common. They each sought out programs and support systems that enabled them to succeed. Programs like Gateway to College and Educational Justice in Louisville, Kentucky, are designed to help disadvantaged young people succeed. Non-traditional students find what they need by enrolling in the school program that fits their needs, family obligations, goals and personal circumstances. Many communities have programs in place to help you get into college, no matter what your situation. You just have to look.