“Basically, I went to a high school where I was babied. I could turn a paper in late or not go to class and it wouldn’t matter. I used to be able to BS my work, so in college I missed homework and skipped classes and before I knew it, I was in a hole. On the drop date, I went to all of my professors and every single one said it was mathematically impossible for me to pass those classes. I just stopped going altogether.” – Tate Lowrance
Tate Lowrance was sitting in Cistern Yard on a beautiful day last spring, leaning against his backpack, enjoying an orange in the sunlight. He wasn’t wearing headphones or looking at his phone like most of the people in the yard; instead, he was simply observing his surroundings and taking it all in. “I have a gap between classes and it’s a beautiful day,” he says.
At 22, Tate isn’t quite sure what his major will be, but he thinks it’s going to be some type of business major, perhaps marketing. “I had a bit of a rough first year and I really don’t know what year will be my last … Hopefully sometime soon.”
Lowrance was more than willing to discuss what he meant by “rough.” After coming to the College, he says he felt a sort of culture shock. He wasn’t prepared for the amount of work or expectations his professors had. “I definitely avoided talking to my parents,” he confesses. “And when I had to, I lied a lot. ‘How’s school?’ ‘Oh, it’s good, doing great.’”
He continued not going to class or doing his work because he felt that it was hopeless.
“When I went home for Christmas break, I had a massive party for New Year’s Eve – on accident. It started out at 18 people but 50 others migrated from a buddy’s and before you know it, people were pouring into my house. Three hundred people ended up at the house and when my parents came home they kicked everyone out. The next day they asked to see my grades.”
Lowrance was pulled out of the College and went to the Outback Treatment Camp in Utah, a camp for troubled teens. “I slept outside for 90 days in January,” he recalls. “It was freezing cold, but other than that, the experience was actually really cool.”
Most of the other kids in the camp had drug problems and Lowrance reflected on how minuscule his problem seemed in comparison. “I was just being really irresponsible and spoiled. I threw $20,000 down the drain.”
He then enrolled at Millsaps, a small school in Jackson, Mississippi, for a year and half. He made straight A’s and his friends from the College kept asking him to come back.
“I talked to my dad about coming back and it was really hard, but he finally let me. I made all A’s last semester and I’m hoping to do the same this semester.”
He took a breath and looked up at the sky before getting ready to go to class. “This school is amazing. This city is amazing. I wouldn’t change what I went through because now I appreciate it all so much more. Instead of partying or skipping classes, I do what I’m supposed to and then I go to the beach or ride my bike or go to one of the parks. It took me awhile to realize it, but I really am so blessed to be here.”
Update: Now a junior, Lowrance is majoring in marketing.
Lauren Vega is a sophomore from Huntington, West Virginia, studying arts management and international studies in the Honors College at the College of Charleston. She is also a National Merit Scholar, a scholar in the International Studies Program, and a 200-hour registered yoga teacher.