Last Friday, a student stopped by my office to show me the paper that she’d expected to fail miserably, actually turned out better than she thought: 100%. Her grade was the highlight of my day, not because I’d helped her with the research and MLA formatting and because she stopped by to thank me, but more so, because I remember just a month ago, how unsure she was of herself. Just a month ago, she’d admitted to me that she was thinking about actually dropping the class. Today, was a bit different.
“I think I might get an A in the class,” she whispered in slight awe.
“Really? What’s the lowest grade you’ve gotten so far,” I asked.
“An 88,” she responded.
I couldn’t help, but to crack up.
“What?” she asked. “What?”
“Ummm. I think you might get an A in the class too, ” I said.
I’ve worked with community college students for almost ten years now, and often I’ve observed something interesting about you. Often, you don’t see yourself the way that we see you. You may not see yourself as smart and knowledgeable as you really are. But you’re reading this right now, which means you’ve stuck with it even through your self-doubts. You’re probably tired and ready for this semester to be over, but still, you study; you write; you show up. You take that final exam and finish that semester paper. You have “grit,” and that in and of itself is a quality to be commended.
I have a suggestion, though. Besides being consistent and staying committed to school to the very end, the best thing that you can do for yourself is to see yourself as we see you: smart and unique, someone who is a student, yes, but someone who is also a scholar, a person that offers some distinct knowledge, a person whom we -Reynolds faculty and staff- can learn from. (I cannot count the number of times I’ve learned something from a student while helping her/him with research.)
In an attempt to help you see yourself a bit more clearly, and taking a cue from the Kindness Girl blog, we’re committing to a small gesture this exam week. While studying in the library, if you find a little card in a study room or sitting on a computer keyboard that says, “To you, the Reynolds Student,” open it up. Or if you discover a sticky note just sitting there on a dusty, old book, and it gives you a little boost, take it, pull it out during your exam and read it every so often. (We promise it contains no answers to exam questions.) If you are a student who discovers no notes of small, good hope this week, please accept this blog post as our attempt to say it how it is: You can do this. And if you cannot see that in yourself, know that, we see you, and your success, so very clearly. If you cannot see that, for this week only, see yourself through our eyes.