Fundamental content presented in Complete the Agenda in Higher Education: Challenge Beliefs About Student Success was first conceived and drafted through many of the posts below. Click a title to read the full post.
A common complaint among college faculty and administrators is about the audacious expectations of some (albeit not all) college students. These expectations get translated to “students are so entitled these days!”…Rather than shake our heads and complain, let’s teach students they are entitled to (and what they’re not). Then, let’s fulfill our obligations to our students and meet those appropriate audacious expectations.
Each day presents opportunities to make choices about how to react or respond to a person or situation…There are two choices: (1) to react; and (2) to respond. These actions are very different and produce very different outcomes.
The results of a survey I recently conducted to validate 17 proposed beliefs of successful college students are provided below. Each of the beliefs can be tied to growth mindset and GRIT constructs.
Community college are open admissions institutions, providing everyone with access to higher education. Everyone. And it should stay that way. Unfortunately, and probably unintentionally, with the focus now on completion (not just access) a collective narrative that is framed within a deficit narrative has developed around the myriad reasons student don’t finish college…How can colleges respect students’ choice to go to college, acknowledge that college, like life, is hard with challenges and difficulties, and help them choose to finish what they start? How can colleges help students grow their grit?
When it comes to how people interact with each other, there are four degrees of relationship along a continuum – each with an increasing level of engagement and effectiveness. You can ignore someone, do to someone, do for someone, or do with someone…In addition to what we do TO and FOR students, what if we simultaneously and purposefully move toward the DO WITH end of the continuum? What if we treated students as partners in education, inviting them to share in the responsibility for their education?
Today’s conventional wisdom (driven by research on student success and completion) has community colleges believing that “students don’t do optional.” This belief has perpetuated many of us to focus on two primary tactics to improve college completion: (1) mandate and (2) automate. But. Is this an accurate belief? Students “did optional” at least once. They chose to attend college. College is optional.
Many community college students are dealing with incredibly complex life challenges (e.g. homelessness, poverty). They have significant obstacles to overcome and burdens to carry. Survival becomes their most important (daresay only) priority. Finishing a class, an assignment, a semester, much less a degree, simply becomes insurmountable…for some. Despite the obstacles and burdens, others find a way or make a way to succeed. They develop the right kind of grit in the right ways for the right things.
For students to finish a degree or certificate they first need to know how to finish a semester. To know how to finish a semester, they need to know how to finish a course. To know how to finish a course, they need to know how to finish an assignment. To know how to finish an assignment, they need to know how to struggle, sacrifice, sustain and succeed.
Who are community college students? Certainly we see students from across the continuum — from students who are not “college ready” to those who could’ve attended the top universities but chose the local community college for a variety of reasons. As open admission institutions whose very mission is about access to higher education, we welcome all students. And we should continue to welcome all students. But, generally our students fall into three buckets:
(1) gritty, determined students;
(2) fearful, unbelieving students; and
(3) confident, coddled students.
Community colleges across the United States have been working hard over the past several years to figure out how to get more students to finish a degree or certificate. This work has been referred to as the Completion Agenda. Efforts have primarily focused on policies and processes because it is over these things which we have the most control. The work has been good. It has been hard. It has been important. But it’s not enough. Policies and process are not making much difference. It is time to do the heavier lifting. It is time to complete the agenda and include people.