When I began editing Crossing the Bridge: Succeeding in a Community College and Beyond, I asked a friend and former colleague in the South Carolina Technical Education Association for some proofing help. After she read and corrected the manuscript, we sat side by side on a summer afternoon much like this one and went over every page of the work. She only found about 97 errors and suggested reworking a few dozen sentences.
Preliminary proofing behind us, I asked the burning question, the one that all writers want to know: “Do you think it’s any good?”
After a moment, “Yes, definitely. We both know that this is what students need to know. It’s just that….”
“Just that what?” I asked.
“It’s just that it can’t help them, no matter how well written the material is, if they don’t want to read it,” she said, shrugging. “And we both know how hard it is to get them to read and study the required work, much less the extra.”
You might think my friend was being negative, but she wasn’t. Like me, she’s a positive realist, and I knew instantly that she spoke the truth. We both know that many students (notice that I didn’t say all) want an easy way to do things, an easy way to earn that A. However, it’s also been our experience that there are no shortcuts to excellence.
I didn’t write Crossing the Bridge to get wealthy. I wrote it to help students of all ages, backgrounds, races, interests, and ability levels to succeed. I’m passionate about sharing the “secrets,” but if students don’t want to read and apply tips on time management, talking with advisors, and asking questions, then developing the guidelines is in vain. And then something heartening happened this morning.
Over the weekend I wrote one of my online classes an email encouraging them to “stay the course” and reminded them that we only have a few weeks before the summer semester ends. I gave them a little pep talk and offered some helpful suggestions. This morning I read this reply: “I feel your passion through what you write to us. I’m going through a lot of life changes right now, but I am definitely taking note of all of your advice…. It may seem no one is listening, or no one cares, but if you reach one person, your efforts were not wasted.”
I’ve never seen or met this young woman in person, but she has given me hope. Now if I could just figure out a way to get her cohorts to care as much….