At Udacity, we love hearing from students (seriously, drop us a line!) and we love sharing student stories with the community. Recently we got a note from Victoria, who took College Algebra for credit at San Jose State University, with the goal of passing a placement exam to test out of remedial math classes when she returned to university.

I graduated high school in 95. I went back to school at Dalton State College, a local school, for a few semesters in 98 and 2000. While there, I was not able to attempt College Algebra before passing remedial math as my skills fell below the requirements for College Algebra. I had always had a really difficult time with math all through school. I did take and pass the remedial math classes (one had to be attempted twice), but failed College Algebra on my first (and only) attempt. The combination of my struggles with my crazy work schedule as a shift worker in a 911 center made it essentially impossible to dedicate the level of attention needed to succeed at school.

It was so discouraging that I was convinced that college just wasn’t for me and put aside the idea of trying to get a college degree. Life went on while I worked and several of my friends went to school at various spots. Some even went on to earn two Master’s and one earned her PhD in Library Science. It was such a disappointment to feel that I was forever locked into the working world over the struggle I had with just one class. The feeling that I somehow wasn’t as smart or capable as the people I had identified with for my whole life as best friends was such a blow to my ego. Even though they never made me feel like this, I was an intellectual outcast.

As I got older and amassed friends from all walks of life, inevitably the conversations would turn to who went to school where, what his/her background is, etc. Again, I would just hang around and offer up, “Well, I’m a 911 Supervisor. I have lots of work certifications! I can help talk a drug-crazed psychopath into putting down the gun he’s holding against his family! I know CPR!!!” Not that I feel that my training or experience isn’t beneficial to the community I serve, because I know that it most certainly is. But it’s still not the same satisfaction of saying, “I earned my Bachelor’s at ____ in _____.”

In order to go back to school, I had to take the Compass placement exam. Depending on my scores there, I would be able to sign up for either College Algebra or be forced to take remedial math classes again. I decided to work my tail off with every available online resource I could find in order to pass the Compass with a score high enough to exempt from remedial math.

That’s where I ran across your College Algebra class on Udacity.

I worked all through the summer weeks, spending every moment at home online, going through each lesson until I completely understood each portion. I cried, I wanted to punch my screen, I yelled….but most importantly, I EVENTUALLY got it! Several times when I’d think I wasn’t getting it and then submit my answer to a problem to have the screen pop up in that lovely green font “Good Job!” I honestly did cry happy tears.

Seriously. It happened more than it should for a woman rounding the corner to age 40, over a math problem. 😉

I’m so proud to say that with the help from all of you wonderful folks, I cleared the cutoff on Compass! There were questions there that I didn’t know how to answer because I only made it to Lesson 8 on Udacity before the test. I DO know for a fact that if I hadn’t found your class, I certainly would not have cleared the cutoff for remedial classes. Lots of the material in the exam was material covered up to Lesson 8, and it was those questions I *know* I aced!

I will be registering for College Algebra for Fall semester this morning!!! I know it’s not going to be easy, but now I know it’s absolutely possible. That’s all I need.