Wait, if you dropped out of HS did you do college? How? Was it just *simpler times*?

Yeah, very much a *simpler times* situation.

Sophomore year, for reasons not directly related to this story, I took and passed the California High School Proficiency Exam. That meant I technically had a diploma for California purposes.

By senior year I had taken the SAT and Achievement Tests (ACH) you needed for college. For each set of SAT and ACH scores there was a corresponding high school GPA you needed in order to be accepted to the University of California. In those days (though not for much longer, due to jokers like me) there was a special case: If your scores were high enough there was no GPA requirement. My scores were high enough. All I needed to get into UC were my test scores and a high school diploma (which, thanks to the proficiency exam, I already had). So when I applied to UC Irvine early in my senior year I was accepted right away.

I did not at first realize what this meant.

At my high school we were required to take a US Government class to graduate. The teacher of this class was notoriously hard-assed. He required deference and diligence.

I was weak in those areas. I blew off the assignments and made myself difficult. (Not because I saw what was coming. Just because.)

Things came to a head two weeks before graduation. The final term paper for the class was due on Monday morning. I’d done no work on it. Sunday night I was staring at a blank page, steeling myself to bullshit through the required 10 pages, when I had a thought: What if I just didn’t turn it in? What could they do to me?

Well, I’d fail the class. I wouldn’t be able to graduate.

Uh huh. And?

On Monday morning I skipped Government and used the payphone in the office to call UCI admissions. They assured me that I didn’t need my high school GPA, or my school-issued diploma. I was already enrolled for the fall.

So I walked over to my counselor’s office and told him I was dropping out. He tried to talk me out of it, but none of his arguments made sense to me. I didn’t want to write that paper. And they had no actual leverage to make me do it. So I didn’t.

Looking back 40 years later, I wish I’d stayed. Dropping out gave me a momentary feeling of power, but it also gave me a fair amount of unexpected headache. (The family I was boarding with kicked me out, for one thing.) In hindsight it would have been way cooler to stay, but engage in all manner of Magic-Christian-style shenanigans.

For that matter, if I was reliving those events with me-of-today insight, I could have done a lots of things differently. I could have actually learned things. I could have been a better person. My real beef was with my (largely absent) parents. The adults at my high school were just trying to help me.

But I couldn’t see it. I was all sturm und drang in those days.


Reposted from https://lies.tumblr.com/post/625832304244326400.

Tags: localareamom.

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