Wednesday, March 11, 2009

College Program: Creating Life Long Learners

In tonight’s college mentoring sessions, one of our tutor’s comments stood out to me and reinforced my vision of the college program: creating life-long learners. While doing a intake session with one of our student/tutor pairs tonight, I asked the tutor to recount the story of her journey in higher education. This tutor told us all about the exams she had to take to attain her dream of becoming an attorney. This tutor told us that every time she took an important academic test, she thought that she was done with tests for the rest of her life. After getting through the SAT, LSAT and Bar exam, this tutor realized that she would never be done with taking tests. In fact, she has to continue earning continuing legal education credits (CLE’s) to maintain her licensing. After listening to her story, I reflected on how her realization that she would never stop taking tests holds true for all of the academic challenges we encounter in our lives. Whether we face tests at school, at work or in our personal lies, we never stop learning.

As college tutors we help students look at the long-term picture of what they want their lives to look like and in imagining this long-term picture we should stress the importance of seeking out knowledge and applying it to their daily life. At Cabrini Connections, we work with at-risk youth, and these students often lack resources critical to attaining a higher education and jobs. However, the College Program strives to create resourceful students. We want our students to know that if there is a question related to their academic or professional development that they cannot answer or a resource they lack, they can find someone out there that knows the answer and someone who can help the student obtain necessary resources. We encourage students to ask questions, find information, consider their options, try out a plan and evaluate how it works for them. This strategy does not just work for high school students applying to college. It is invaluable for students and professionals over the course of their lifetime.

Ultimately, the College Program teaches our students a process. We cannot provide a road map to success that will apply to every student. However, we can show them that planning for the future is a process of asking questions, researching the possibilities, trying out different paths and evaluating the outcomes. Empowering your student to become life-long learner can help them navigate the difficult process of picking a college and finding out “what they want to be when they grow up.”

Encourage your students to always keep learning. When you keep learning, you keep growing.


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