Getting expelled from college was one of the turning points of my life.
Looking back, I always had it easy. I was a top student throughout my whole boyhood, and got my high school degree with top grades. I was lucky enough to have parents who always made sure I was not slacking off at school. Well, maybe easy is not the right term since I still had to put in the work, but I had the right environment to prosper.
After high school I passed the entry process of one of the top engineering school in France, INSA Lyon. In France, public engineering schools are in a different system than regular universities. More prestigious. Based on a selection process to ensure only the best can survive. Truth is, they are but remnants of a napoleonian heritage. Engineers in France were part of a special napoleonian army corps. The training was so good it spread around Europe.
It is still a system based on elitism. 10% of the students at INSA Lyon are expelled within the 1st year. I was one of those.
The shift from high school to college is tough. You are never taught how to learn. The newly-found freedom is hard to contain. No matter how hard you work, if your methods are not right, it gets harder to succeed.
One semester passed. I tried my best to improve my grades. There was a slight improvement during the second semester, but the study committee still went for the expulsion. I didn’t receive any help. Actually, I didn’t ask for help. I should have. But I was an introvert from a far-away rural town who graduated from a regular high school. I was not prepared for that. I was closing myself off, trying to deal with my problems by myself.
This event taught me not to fully rely on others for my success, but to work on myself while still being eager to seek external help when it’s right.
In the second part of this story I will tell you how I made my come back to the very same engineering school that expelled me and how I graduated as a telecom engineer.