Not Everything That Counts Can Be Counted

Dan.MarkTwain “Hey, aren’t you the Transfer Guy?” , said the young woman as I was walking across the SMC campus during the last week of September.  Of course, I was thinking about the upcoming college fair, budget issues, UC and CSU application workshops, the Common App, and, after a week due to the NACAC Conference in Toronto and missing laundry day, do I have enough clean underwear to get me through the week.

I don’t do a lot of one on one counseling, but mostly workshops and classroom presentations, so I am sorta familiar to a lot of students.  I answered “Yes.  What can I do for you?”

She went on to tell me her name is Amanda and she just finished her first year at UCLA, after transferring from SMC.  She is a Gender Studies major, and toying with the idea of double majoring in Spanish Literature.  She continued to tell me that her first year at UCLA was hard, but so rewarding and worth the effort.  She was just back from a one year study abroad program in Spain.  She also told me she had spent five years at SMC and had come to many of my workshops and worked with many counselors, and just stopped to tell me thanks–which put a smile on my face.

But according to much educational research, she is a failure.

In the world of educational accountability, people like Amanda fall out of most educational calculations for success.  She takes too long to transfer and too long to graduate.  But I wish you could have looked into her eyes while she was telling me of her first year at UCLA.  She was confident and proud of her accomplishments, and fully aware there was more to come.

I know that much of what we do, whether independent, high school, 4 year or community college folks, is a repeat of what we did last year: college fairs, letters of recommendation, application overviews.  But for each “Amanda”, it is new, appreciated and life changing.  It counts.

By Dan Nannini
WACAC President


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