This is the start of a new college semester where I teach. I wear this button on the first few days, to invite new students to ask for help as they try to find their way around a very confusing place. Today, I’m thinking about optimism and new beginnings.
I teach at Monroe Community College, in Rochester, NY. We are quite large as community colleges go, with over 15,000 students, two campuses, two satellite locations, and a large variety of courses and programs. Our students cover a broad range as well. Some are top students from excellent local high schools, getting the first two years of a college education at a great price before going off to competitive four-year institutions. Others are marking time, not sure they want to go to college or what programs they want, exploring many different options. Others are the first in their family, maybe the first person they knew personally, who ever went to college, and come in with inadequate preparation that requires developmental courses before they are ready for the usual college work. Students come from inner-city neighborhoods, from rural school districts, from the best systems in our region, and from over 50 different countries around the world. It’s an exciting place to work, to teach, and to learn.
On the first day of each semester, as I walk around with my “Questions? Ask me” button, I am thrilled all over again about what an optimistic, future-oriented environment a college is, and especially a community college. Students are investing hard work now for a payoff that’s years away. When they reach the end of their journey here, whether they will cross short bridge to the next program at the next college or earn a place in a career with a little more security and status than they had before, they can be proud of the work they did. If I contributed one stepping stone or removed one stumbling block, then I can be proud as well.
Looking for optimism? Try a college campus on the first day. There’s no better place.
Posted in response to the WordPress Photo Challenge: Optimistic