I owe a lot of my perseverance to my father, a determined farmer who couldn’t afford to be waylaid by breakdowns. Observing his determination to repair a machine I broke out in the field left a memorable example I strive to emulate.
Springfield’s very own Abe Lincoln is a shining example of perseverance, having failed in business in 1831 and 1833, losing a state legislative seat in 1832, the devastating death of a fiancé in 1835, losing Congressional seats in 1843 and in 1848 and Senate seats in 1855 and 1859, and losing a bid for the vice presidency in 1856, before finally becoming President in 1860.
Perseverance is key attribute of success, and this is especially true in education. But perseverance alone is often not enough. Mark Twain once said, “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.” On the other hand, setbacks can be useful; besides character building, they can also provide useful information. Thomas Edison is reported to have explored over a thousand different ways of developing the light bulb, before discovering how to make it commercially viable. Even so, he remained optimistic and viewed his failures as partially useful, stating, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
In a February 2013 Ted Talk, Dr. Freeman Hrabowski observed half his audience raise their hands when he posed the question, “How many of you know someone who started out in pre-engineering or pre-med, but changed their major within a year or two?” In this talk, Hrabowski cites the percentage of students who give up pursuing pre-med, pre-engineering and other science-related careers is as high as 60-80 percent. Which poses the question, how can Lincoln Land Community College help our students persevere in their pursuit of such studies?
Charles Metz began earnestly attending LLCC part-time in 2010, developing his remedial math and writing skills. He persevered through some tough financial times and built up his foundation in the fundamentals, eventually succeeding in completing calculus and organic chemistry and earning an associate in science degree in August 2013. Because of his academic preparedness, he was accepted as a pharmacy student at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science without a bachelor’s degree, but simply holding an associate in science degree from LLCC.
Each year, LLCC prepares a number of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) students like Charles, who transfer to four-year schools to realize their career goals as engineers, doctors, scientists and more. For the following reasons, a community college like LLCC is a great place to begin this quest.
- Four-year schools eagerly accept community college transfer students who possess associate degrees with good grade point averages. Transfer schools understand that students with this successful college experience are likely to persevere through their challenging programs.
- LLCC offers direct and easy access to our instructors. The average classroom size at LLCC is currently 18, and all full-time faculty maintain weekly office hours, making themselves available to meet with their students outside of class for one-on-one help.
- LLCC offers many levels of STEM courses ranging from remedial level through college sophomore level. Students who did not take advantage of the opportunities in high school to become college ready still have this chance at LLCC. Students that are college ready, can enroll in many of the difficult classes Dr. Hrabowski alluded to above, but with a much smaller class size than afforded at most universities, and with much better access to their instructors.
- LLCC provides many free support services to help our students persist in successfully surmounting their more challenging subjects, including our Math Center, Writing Center, access to study skills professionals, peer tutoring, counseling and advising.
While his pharmacy class of 70 has lost a number of students, Charles Metz has persevered and is set to graduate in 2018. He says, “… the admissions people here have been very impressed with me and want me to come to LLCC for a transfer day session in the future. They said it is obvious that students leave LLCC with all classes and education required to enter the program.”
I invite you to explore what LLCC can provide for you, as you persevere toward your aspirations.