College Life Today: A learning disability didn’t make me ineducable. It made me unstoppable

Max Schmidtbauer

Max Schmidtbauer
Special to the Union

HUMBOLDT – Being a freshman in college is not easy, to say the least. Once you tack on the fact that I have a diagnosed learning disability, it seems like college is not an option at all. At least, this is what I was told. 

Little did I know how wrong they all were. 

From a young age, I have always appreciated and actually enjoyed school. It was only once the classes got harder that I realized I was falling behind all my other classmates. This is an incredibly helpless feeling, as I didn’t understand why I was not progressing like others were. 

Eventually, you let what everyone says get to your head. They say you aren’t smart enough to pass your classes. They say you are lazy. They say you should just quit now. They say college is not in your future. I was still very young, so it was easy to let what everyone was saying go to my head. It was easy for me to just nod and agree.

But with the help of my family, I finally decided to do something that wasn’t as easy: I was going to make a change. Later that year, I finally got tested to see if I had some sort of learning disability, and in fact, I did. Moving forward with this knowledge and understanding how my disability affected me in the classroom, I was able to learn around my disability, to fully understand how it had limited me. After I was diagnosed, my grades went from solid C’s to almost straight A’s. 

Three years have now passed and I find myself at my first choice school, Humboldt State University. Here at Humboldt State, I have had the pleasure of working with some of the kindest, most professional and understanding disability staff. They have offered free tutoring and resources and have continued to help me build up my confidence as a student. Remember those C’s from my sophomore year in high school? Well, now I’m on the Dean’s List for my academic achievements during my first semester in college. 

The most important lesson I have learned from this is to never allow something to get in the way of your success. Not everyone has a learning disability, but I’m sure everyone has at least one thing in their life that they feel may limit their potential. 

Do not let it. Not everyone is going to be perfect. Not everyone is going to succeed on their first try. Some of the world’s most brilliant minds are specialists in failure. But, the important thing is after their failure, after they establish and understand the roadblocks in their life, they are able to overcome those barriers to happiness and success. I believe that with so much negativity swirling around, especially for today’s youth, it’s important to never give up and to never let one, two, three, however many roadblocks limit you. 

If you want to go to college, then make it happen, and go to college. Never let anyone tell you that you cannot get there, because with hard work and persistence, I may just be seeing you on campus next semester or next year. It is a cliche, but if you try hard and never give up, your goals are never out of reach. 

Max Schmidtbauer is studying botany at Humboldt State University. He is one of the students documenting his college experience on social media with Get Ready Humboldt. Find more at



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