You know that saying: "He's just not college material." Or "In another year, she might be college material."
What is "college material"?
It isn't always about intelligence. My brother is one of the most brilliant people I know--and better read than the Ph.D.'s--but he hated sitting in classes and taking exams. He's the classic "autodidact" and now he's a teacher, working with kids and adults and using his gifts in ways that have made him a leading figure in his field. But school? Not for him.
There are lots of young folk in college these days who clearly are not college material. How do they get in? Why are they there? You know the ones. They come to the first week of classes, then drop in sporadically throughout the term. They don't do the work. They feign illness or the famous grandmother's funeral around exam times. (How is it that kids these days all have eight or nine grandmothers, always near death?)
A week or two before finals, these slackers reappear, usually by email, requesting the "meeting in your office" to talk about how they can catch up and get a passing grade. At this point, it's hopeless but they think that they can somehow charm their way back into your good graces and squeak out with a C.
I'm talking about the class-sleepers, the leave-early-for-fall-breakers, the "I'm having issues" kids who have no business wasting our time and theirs (not to mention their parents' money) pretending to be college students. They are the girls who major in greek life and the guys who'd rather be drinking and studying the point spread than studying for midterms.
And then I hear a story like the one about a young woman who's dating the son of a close friend. Starting in high school, she worked two jobs to pay her own tuition to a prep school, with the goal of getting into a good university. She worked 50 hours a week and maintained an "A" average, graduating with honors. Meanwhile, her parents told her that "college is wasted on girls" and threw all their support behind her brother instead. They didn't contribute to her education financially--not a penny.
Working her way through two years of community college--again, maintaining top grades--she started looking at applying to four-year schools. There are huge obstacles. She needs financial aid. And she lacks those extracurricular credits that so many college admissions offices seek on a resume because she's spent the past five years getting up at dawn to waitress and staying up late to study.
My friend wrote her a great letter of recommendation to the college she wants to get into. He also drove her there to do an in-person interview--SO important--and personally talked to the financial aid guy on her behalf. Being "in loco parentiis" has extended to my friend inviting this girl to eat and study at his family's house when the situation in her own home becomes too stressful (her parents--sheesh, you don't want to know).
This one is college material and she's having to claw tooth and nail to get in.
We love students like this girl. She's like the non-traditionals who start college in their mid-20s and work like the devil doing it right because they really want to be there.
Sometimes college (like the old saying about youth) is wasted on the young.