by Marc Cullison
I’ve often wondered about the coming generations of college students and their suitability for a degree. Each semester I see the bored, unconcerned eyes looking at me in the classroom, if they are looking at me at all. But in the midst of this lethargic mass of youth there exist a few surprises. I do have a few exceptional students who excel at science or math. And other students have the will to learn but face difficulties in doing so. These are the gems that I try to encourage. It turns out that most of them never had the opportunity to pursue education as a priority in their lives, or their families provided little initiative for the student to take an interest in it.
One of my students recently chose to read the instructor biography I had posted on the college’s educational website. I received an e-mail from him in response to his perusal of that bit of information. He commended me for my service in Vietnam, which I welcomed, since those commendations are few and far between. And he also told me that he respected me more now that he knows I served my country. Now, how many students would go out of their way to say such a thing?
This young man is married, has a child, and works two jobs while trying to keep up his studies in college. I have to admire him for his resolve. He misses several classes, and fails to show up for some exams, but I understand the difficulty in juggling two jobs, a marriage, and college. I give him a wide berth and make sure he has every opportunity to succeed. Not because he paid me a compliment, but because he is trying to make something of his future. And I am going to help him do it. It is refreshing to see such commitment from a student when most of them are just there to be there. I’m not convinced that the majority of students understand what college is all about. I wish they did. I guess mom and dad haven’t been doing their jobs.
I believe that’s where it all starts. At home, with mom and dad. If they can’t or won’t provide the encouragement and drive to learn, it’s probably not going to happen. And, for the most part, it isn’t. Not so much in my college, anyway. Maybe it’s just me, but the students today seem lackadaisical. They have never been taught how to think, or solve problems. It scares the hell out of me. But then, a lot of things do, anymore.
I will continue to do what I do, and hope I can find a way to capture the attention of these students who aren’t sure what students are supposed to do. I can always hope.