It’s rare that you hear something so powerful that it stops you in your tracks and pushes everything else out of your head in that moment.  But, that very thing happened to me this week at the American Association of Community Colleges High Performance Team Training.  In the last few minutes of the last session on the last day, our facilitator (a very respected higher education thought leader, Dr. Byron McClenney), said something that will forever change my perspective.  It was so simple and seemingly subtle, but it was one of the most impactful paradigm shifts I have ever experienced in almost 20 years of community college leadership.

Community colleges, public schools, private schools and educators in general always talk about and strive for ensuring students are “college ready.”  Pre-schools also like to support college readiness.  “Little Scholars” and “Learning Academy” are commonly used in their names.  We all want students to have the knowledge, skills and abilities to be successful in their higher education pursuits.  This intention is honorable and well-intentioned….but it is incomplete.

Rather than only focusing on students being college ready…

“we must be student ready colleges.”

That’s right.

That’s true.

That’s powerful.

The community college mission is to provide access to quality higher education to all students, regardless of how college ready they are.  Many come to us not ready at all.  Others come to us beyond ready.

By shifting our focus to be “student ready,” we will be able to better meet students where they are wherever they are.

Ready or not here they come!