Tuesday, September 27, 2005


I was discussing my struggles with the honors program with a veteran professor recently, when he dropped a bomb. He said that we don’t get very many high-achieving students as a cc in an affluent area, and those we do get are usually there as punishment.


Their parents punish them for (whatever) by sending them to cc until they’ve learned whatever lesson they’re supposed to learn, at which point they gleefully decamp for ‘real’ college.

As much as I’d like to deny it, it fits with what I’ve seen, and explains a lot.

I’ve heard of policymakers touting college as an alternative to jail, but apparently, parents do something similar. This is a morale killer of the highest order.

Obviously, the kids who are (quite literally) serving time don’t carry a lot of intrinsic motivation, so the argument that they should risk lower grades by taking harder courses is an absolute non-starter with them.

I’ve heard of safety schools, but this is much worse. We’re purgatory.

I’m not sure how to get past this reputation. As a cc, we reject selectivity, so we’ll never carry the cachet of exclusivity. Quite the opposite: we fall prey to Groucho Marx’ old line about never joining a club that would accept him as a member.

Has anyone out there at a safety school (or a purgatory school) found a way around this?