Research shows that the number one reason why students remain in school is because someone at the institution knows them and cares about them. Many of our students here need someone to engage them and show them that we care. As I have always said, the most important work we do at institutions such as MCCC is inspiring, motivating and getting students to believe in themselves. It’s worth taking the time to get to know some of our students and hear their personal stories. Sometimes it is cathartic for them to just vent to somebody who cares. We are then able to refer them to the appropriate professionals if necessary.
Here are a few anonymous ones that I am familiar with based on my personal interactions and conversations with students. The stories have been slightly changed to protect the students’ anonymity.
Student A was leaving class one day when I ran into her in the hallway of her classroom building. I asked how her classes were going, as I normally do when I have time to talk to students. Her response was that she was rushing after class to care for her two year old niece who was orphaned because both of the child’s parents had died from a drug overdose. Unfortunately, we have a drug epidemic in our county and that is negatively impacting some of our students.
Student B is a student who had already earned a certificate in a technical area and was working on obtaining an associate degree. I ran into him off campus while he was working for a local company. I inquired about his classes. He proceeded to tell me that he was no longer in school because he had found employment which had provided him with an additional $9.00 an hour, a cell phone, and a brand new truck! It appears students are not coming back to school because of external enticements.
Student C works full-time while carrying a full load of courses. His employer continues to provide him with overtime opportunities, which of course augment his income. As he has continued to avail himself of these opportunities, his grades have suffered, he has decided to drop two of his classes, but not before the point of no return. He ended up with a terrible GPA and could not enroll this semester because he is on academic probation. Some of our students are floundering because they are not able to find that school/work balance.
Student D appears to be a dedicated and committed student who takes her classes very seriously. She has however, been on a variety of medications since elementary school. She knows about our Learning Assistance Laboratory, has utilized it on occasion but not consistently. She knows she is sinking, but is not sure how to ask for help. Sometimes we have to ask them how we can help them, because they may not know how to ask for help.
Student E is a multitalented older student. He has attended other colleges but was unsuccessful at any of them. He has been a drug addict and alcoholic at times in his life and now appears to be clean. While he is in college, he is unsure about what he wants to study and simply needs direction. Some of our students have no clue what to do and need to be inspired, motivated and pointed in the right direction.
Ladies and gents, believe me when I tell you that there are students like these all over our campus. Sometimes all it takes are a few words of encouragement and they can be “saved”. Nelson Mandela said “education is the greatest weapon with which we can change the world”, we have this weapon, let’s use it to change this world one student at a time.