As higher education professionals, we change lives. That may sound arrogant or even impossible, but make no mistake—it’s our business. Sometimes the changes are small, sometimes they’re big. Often, they’re unrecognized—by us, by administrators, by the State or the US Dept. of Education, or even by the students themselves.
Not long ago, I had a student in my Freshman Seminar class who had missed several meetings in a row. I didn’t have much hope that she’d be returning, and I was actually surprised to see her when she finally did show up. Our lesson on that day was on the connection between Self-Awareness and Self-Management. After class, I pulled her aside to speak to her one-on-one about her absences. She said, “This. Today. This is what I needed to hear. I was really having second thoughts about college, about whether or not I could do it. I was having a lot of self-doubt. This is exactly what I needed. I’m glad I came back. I won’t be missing like that again.” She didn’t. It’s not like I planned that—I couldn’t have. Sometimes we set the stage for success, and the students just aren’t yet ready. And sometimes they are. Sometimes, the timing is just right.
Often, we don’t appreciate the impact we’re having on students’ lives. We don’t see immediate results from a lot of our endeavors. We never hear back from that student who failed 3 classes 6 ½ years ago. We often don’t see the difference we make. But that doesn’t mean we don’t make a difference.