In an editorial focusing on successes in the area of minority student success in the sciences, New York Times writer Brent Staples cites UMBC as the leader among universities. UMBC president Freeman Hrabowski recently chaired the committee that produced “Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation,” an eye-opening study issued by the National Academies, the country’s leading science advisory group.
Many barriers stand in the way of academic success for college students. Far too many will fail to realize their academic potential for a myriad of reasons – including financial aid, negative peer pressure, low expectations, unsupported academic/social environments, and a host of others. Universities and colleges can do a myriad of things to address the aforementioned barriers, but it is going to take the love and concern of family and friends to address the one area that has wrecked havoc in the lives of our children. We must teach our students to put pride in its proper place.
Rarely do we meet students who do not have the cognitive wherewithal to do well. However, far too many are ill prepared for the demands of higher education because they refuse to accept the premise that excellence demands sacrifice. Yes, I am talking about the proverbial sacrifices of time, comfort, preferences, etc. I also am talking about the unspoken sacrifices of pride and ego. We must teach our students that in order to grasp the rings of success they will have to let go of who they are for what they can become. Pride often prevents us from doing what we know is necessary to succeed. . .not survive. . .but succeed. Our pride prevents us from studying outside of our circle of friends; from using tutorials and seeking supplemental resources; using the office hours of the instructors; or informing others of our failures, fears, and shortcomings.
If we can teach our students to let go of their egos and focus on their long term goals of academic success and ultimately, a college education, then perhaps they will know what it means to put pride in its proper place.
"Hold fast to dreams"