Holding Back the Tears

When I’ve talked to students about their college choices, I’ve never made a teenager cry. At least until tonight.

A teenage girl tried to hold back the tears when I told her that she would probably have to attend a community college before transferring to a four-year school. She’s a high school senior and her GPA is 2.0.

Of course, this girl is more than a test score or a GPA. She loves to write and is a staff writer on a student magazine. She holds leadership positions at her school. But she’s got an Achilles’ heel. It’s math. She has flunked some math classes.

I told her that I could totally relate to her predicament. I was lousy at math in high school and I too enjoyed writing. When I arrived at college, my GPA jumped because I no longer had to take any math classes. The furthest I ever got in high school was Algebra II and it was excruciating.

It was hard for her because her twin brother, with a significantly higher GPA, enjoyed far more options than she did. She was trying to stifle her sniffling with limited success.

I handed the girl a copy of a story that I wrote today for my college blog on CBSMoneyWatch. In recognition of the community college summit held at the White House I wrote this post:

7 Ways to Succeed in Community College

If you know someone who will probably end up at a community college, pass the link along. I truly believe that it’s not where you go to college that matters, but what you do when you get there.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also write a college blog for CBSMoneyWatch.com and US News.

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