Every week, our office has staff training– we talk about new policies, new staff members, and any issues the “deans” want us to address in the week ahead. This past week, we were asked to review our caseload of new first-year students. We had been sent information about each student, including high school gpa, SAT scores, and other pertinent facts about the incoming freshman class. My boss warned us to pay particular attention to the students with lower high school gpas or SAT scores as these students were the most at risk for low retention. And yes, statistically, that’s true. But if all student affairs professionals used that rubric, I would never have made it to my freshman year of college, much less been marked for any kind of advising/retention watch list.
Despite an above average IQ (or perhaps because of it) I was bored by high school. I put almost no effort in to my studies and I was a notoriously poor standardized test-taker. My combined SAT score was only 1000. I only put forth effort in the subjects I enjoyed (English and Theatre). So when I set out to do the college application process, I wasn’t the “ideal” candidate.
I know the realities now. I was an under-performing, upper-middleclass student, applying to a private school. I was used to fulfill a quota that year–I was part of a percentage of students who could (technically) afford to pay the full tuition rate.
But my first semester of college I was on Dean’s List and I graduated college with honors. I simply needed someone to look beyond the “numbers” of who I was as a student…and look at me as a person.
All of us in student affairs, from admissions to advising, tend to get lost in the sheer volume of students we see. We turn to a numbers-based approach simply because it lets us make more sense of more students. But as our new class of freshman arrives on campus, take a second to look beyond the “numbers” of each student. Find out their stories…there may be a future colleague in the group.