My student success classes have had a theme for the past few years: What is your dream—and what are you doing to get to your dream? During our final class meeting of the term, students have an opportunity to share the progress they have made. It always proves to be an emotional session—and one of the most fulfilling of the semester. For me, there are generally two takeaways:
- It is about them in a very good way. For some of my students—especially my “older” (i.e., non-traditional college aged) female students—this is the first time they have really thought seriously about their dream. Most of their lives, they have focused on other people (husbands, children, parents, friends). Now they concentrate on what they want from life for themselves. No, this is NOT an exercise in selfishness. Rather it proves to be an affirmation that they have talents, aspirations, and life. They have been given “permission” to think of themselves. Believe me when I say this is a very emotional—almost cathartic—moment. I cannot tell you how many times students have tearfully said something to the effect of “I almost gave up on college. I didn’t think I deserved this.” They are so proud of what they have accomplished in the semester.
- We never know the impact we have. My students find their inspiration from many sources. Some dig within; some have a deep spiritual connection. Others draw on those around them. It is obvious they are carefully listening and observing—turning to positive role models as well as running from the negative ones. Here are four of the most powerful student reflections I have heard over the semesters.
- One student said, “I had nothing most of my life and still I listen to a mother full of excuses…I chose school over being strung out or selling dope…I chose school because I want to live!”
- A young student said, “I’ve never had a role model and I’ve never had anyone telling me that I could be anything in life. But what I did have were people that were nothing and were simply a statistic.”
- “My mother’s past always becomes the present because she keeps doing the same things.” Wow, that is insightful.
- A mother told the class how her family was actually jealous of her investing time in school. When she considered giving up, she said she thought about my encouragements and exhortations in class. And she focused on one word in the title of our textbook: “CHOICES.” Those two things kept her going at the most difficult time of her semester. She completed a VERY successful term.
Even the smallest thing we say or do can make a significant difference in the lives of those around us. We never know the impact we have.
This class will have an impact on many lives. I have already rethought my goals and priorities for this semester. I didn’t come to college thinking,”this is going to be a piece of cake.” I came with the willingness to learn more despite the trials and tribulations that I may face. Like the book says “CHOICES” everyone has a choice, it is what we do with those choices, that will lead us to our goal. I also let my wife read this book, because there are many times she has said,”I have been putting my life on hold for our son and this other baby we are having.” I tell her if you really want, you will. I have learned how to stop making excuses because when it all boils down I am the only one accountable for my actions and choices. You are an inspiration on many, and that is where I am going to be by December. “Changing lives for the better.”
Murray…it sounds like have developed some keen insights. Best wishes as you move forwad.
This class is starting to make a imparct on my life. Its really got me thinking. Before school I had some idea of what I wanted. I knew I wanted to me a marine biologist or a behavorial analyist but I noticed I wasn’t really doing much to reach one of those dreams jobs. For the pass 6 years i have watched both of my parents struggle in life and constanly fight over money. It seemed that was all they were worred about. I realized I didnt wanna be like them.How stupid is it to fight over money. It just shows that money has a big impact on there lives to drive them to do wastefully things. I dont wanna be like that. I want to have a future that will make me happy. A future that doesnt make me be motivated by money. yes we need money in this life to get by, but sometimes i think people are so caught up in there jobs and how much money they have or dont have they miss alot. I wanna reach my dreams not for the money but from the impact and experience’s I get along the way.
A very insightful post. Enjoy each day’s experiences; gain wisdom.
As I read the blog, “We never know the impact we have”, it is an important statement. By taking this class I’m learning so much from meeting new people and understanding that life is about choices. Someone can be going through a lot, and just a few positive words could brighten up their day. In this class I have really just sat and thought about my dream. In my class I have a lot of inspiration going on from my Professor and fellow peers, by accepting what I do with my actions. You should have a positive attitude with what you do to achieve your goals.
The way i felt at first was everbody doesnt need to go to college. Yea and most people after high school go straight to the workforce taking care of responsibility. Going to college is a good option for better results on my life as I get older. My impact will be stronger than what it was before.
Impact in my opinion is in every decision we make. How do we see impact? I see it as the result of our actions to the measure on which we grade ourselves.