And this is why I want to help you.
My story is about control, and how I lost it. It’s the story behind why I want to help you take control of your life in college: control of your work, grades, stress, and career – control of your future.
Before high school, I had always been good at two things: playing hockey and getting good grades. As luck would have it, I received financial aid to attend a prestigious boarding school in Connecticut when I was 15 years old. But coming from a humble background, I knew that my parents would not be able to afford college tuition. So, despite the culture shock of attending boarding school, I worked as hard as I could, both in the classroom and on the ice, to achieve my dream of playing hockey for a US college. By my senior year, my hard work had paid off: I was accepted into Harvard and drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers.
But this was also the year when my struggles began. Before I enrolled at Harvard, I had a knee surgery, had a high-ankle sprain that took months to heal, and developed chronic back pain. I couldn’t sleep, sit, stand, or walk more than 20 minutes at a time; some mornings I couldn’t tie my own shoes. Whatever I did, I was in pain. This was the state in which I started school, expected to not only compete for a spot on a new team but also focus on my studies.
I struggled from day one. As my injuries worsened, I spent more time at the rink just to stay functional, fighting to stay on the team. At the same time, I fell more and more behind on school work. I was losing control on the two things I had always excelled in: my coach threatened to kick me off the team, and I was put on probation for having bad grades.
I started feeling depressed. I was always tired – I would fall asleep after reading three pages every night. My college life became a constant struggle, and I couldn’t pull myself together. Every time I started doing better, another injury would bring me back down (torn shoulder, another high-ankle sprain, hip problems… you name it, I had it.)
However, I still believed that if I got my hockey career back on track, I would find the strength to focus on my studies – after all, that’s how I’d always done it. So the summer before my junior year, I mustered up all the mental and physical strength I had to get my back feeling better and to get my strength back so that I could play hockey again.
And it worked. I returned my junior year as the strongest player on the team. I started to get my confidence back on the ice; I found it easier to concentrate on my school work; my back was feeling way better; I was with the girl of my dreams. Things were looking up.
Then, the last practice before our first game, I tore my wrist. I was told that I’d need surgery and that the recovery would take five to six months – basically the duration of the hockey season. I also wouldn’t be able to use my hand to write and type for a few months.
I had to step back and look at my situation realistically – two seasons of barely playing, now a full season of not playing at all. I was behind on school work, I had bad grades, and I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. So, I had to make the toughest decision of my life. I quit playing hockey, and I didn’t get the surgery so that I could finish the semester. I thought that if I quit hockey, I would have more time to focus on my studies and to figure out what I wanted to do.
Boy, was I wrong. Quitting hockey actually worsened my self-destructive sequence. Without hockey, I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. My stress and depression from the previous two years kicked back in – now even harder. I had way more time, but I wasted it. I was extremely behind on my work, and without any good studying habits or tactics to fall back on, I had absolutely no clue how to turn it around. I didn’t know where to begin.
The following year, my last year in college, I did get slightly better grades than the years before – but nothing spectacular. I still didn’t have good study habits, I still didn’t follow a schedule, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. Graduation rolled around, I had a bad GPA and no job.
For four months, I worked at a farm, mulching, chopping trees, and shoveling manure – something I thought I’d never have to do with a Harvard degree. Finally, I landed my first real job as an assistant project manager at a construction company, and I felt my stars had aligned and started to piece my life together.
Soon after, however, what little control I gained back, I lost completely. Within the span of a week, my grandfather passed away, the girl of my dreams left me, and I was laid off from my job. No job, no money, and alone in New York – I was in complete misery. For two weeks, all I could do was sit on a couch and focus on not having a complete meltdown (which, I totally had).
As you can imagine, I needed to take a break after my “week from hell.” That’s when I went to see Jim, my mentor since high school. We started talking about my experience and about how he’s trying to help students get better grades.
We started exchanging ideas, not only about how we could help struggling students like myself, but also good students who wanted to do even better. That’s when the Shovel Study System was born, and that’s when I made it my mission to help every student that I could so no one would have to go through what I went through.
See, I really do think that my loss of control had its roots in my first year in college, when I didn’t establish good study habits. When you have good grades, you feel better about yourself. You are able to think about your future because you are confident in your present. You are in control.
If you’ve read this far, you understand that our mission is very personal to me. I was utterly unprepared, but I want to help you gain control and confidence.
Everything on this site is designed to help you succeed in college so check it out. Mainly the How To Study section. And then just grab your Shovel and start shoveling your pile of work.
Hit me up in the chat in the bottom right corner of any page if you have any questions. I’m here to help.