On the first day of his Monday/Wednesday/Friday 9:00 am History class, PROFESSOR HOPE discusses the importance of attending his history class every day. Although points are not taken off for attendance and Professor Hope does not take roll, he emphasizes that every class will be important and that successful college students will take the responsibility for being there, taking notes, asking questions, and processing the information discussed in each class.

GLENDA is a single mother with two small children. She wants to become a teacher, and after several years of believing that she couldn’t attend college, she obtained financial aid. Her sister has agreed to watch the children while Glenda is in class, and things go well until one Monday morning her sister calls and says she is sick and tells Glenda not to bring the children.  Glenda stays home with her children.  The following week her youngest child is sick, and she misses class to take her to the doctor.  The following week Glenda misses class for a doctor’s appointment of her own. And the following week she misses in order to go to court over a dispute with her ex-boyfriend concerning custody of the children.

Bill is a recent high school graduate.  He isn’t sure what he wants to do, but he’s heard that going to college will get him a better job.  He commutes 30 miles to school with his friend Ron.  Ron’s first class doesn’t start until noon, but he assures Bill that getting to school early will give him time to study, so he’s really glad that Bill has a 9 o’clock class.  For the first two weeks of school, Ron picks Bill up at 8 o’clock, but because of heavy traffic, Bill is late a couple of times to Professor Hope’s class.  After a few weeks, Ron starts picking Bill up later and later, and once or twice he calls to say he can’t make it at all.  At mid-term, Bill realizes that he has missed Professor Hope’s class seven times.

Going to college is not an option for TAYLOR. Everyone in his family has always gone to college, and it is expected if he is to join the family business. He is in total agreement with his family. Taylor decides to join a fraternity.  He was always popular in high school, likes the guys in the fraternity, and they assure him that he will have fun, but grades are important.  The first week of school Taylor misses a couple of classes because of attending parties to decide which fraternity is best for him, and after being out most of the night “partying,” he just couldn’t get up in time to go to class.  As the semester progresses, there are several pledge projects that keep him up late and take up so much time that when he does get to class, he is not prepared.

ALVIN is on the traveling squad for the football team, a real honor for a freshman.  Alvin is not sure what he wants out of college other than to play football and possibly make the pros.  The coach assures Alvin that football trips are excused absences, so when the squad leaves before 9:00 am on Fridays, he doesn’t bother to let Professor Hope know he won’t be there nor does he ask about make up work.  He vaguely remembers something in the syllabus about the possibility of going to an 8 o’clock class and the policy for work missed in an “official” capacity.  On three separate occasions, the bus leaves at noon on Friday, but Alvin misses class because his name is on the official list and he can count it as an official absence.  Alvin is injured in one game and misses class on the following Monday and Wednesday because he really doesn’t feel like going to class.  After all, everyone knows that professors give athletes special consideration.

* * * * *

Listed below are the students in Professor Hope’s class. Rank them in order of their chance of being a successful student in the class. Give a different score to each character. Be prepared to explain your choice.

Most likely to succeed — 1  2  3 4 — Least likely to succeed.

                                    Glenda            ______                                    Taylor            ______

                                    Bill                  ______                                     Alvin             ______

Diving Deeper: What could each student do to improve his/her chance for success?

–Carolyn Hopper, Faculty, Developmental Studies, Middle Tennessee State University, TN

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