Who Graduates College? Take a guess!

I read a great New York Times post about how talented, low-income and minority students experience hardships on their path to getting their college degree. While the article highlights the socioeconomic gap that permeates college graduation rates, my message is clear: NO MATTER YOUR BACKGROUND, KNOWLEDGE and WISDOM fills any gap. As I have worked with hundreds of students as college academic coach, I see a pattern in those students who achieve and those students that don’t.  It’s not that they are incapable of doing these things, but no one has ever inform them of the best practices in getting a college education. Why aren’t they communicated is another discussion about whose job is it to REALLY prepare our student for college. There are 5 things students can do to overcome any educational hurdle and obtain a college degree. Unfortunately, these things are not communicated to parents and students and students walk blindly into college.

graduation hat and money

  1. Get involved in a bridge or transition program.  These programs are effective for so many reasons and many have proven to help retain and graduate more students from marginalize populations.
  2. Identify a peer, faculty, and staff mentor and foster a relationship.  Many low-income students are also the first to go to college in their immediate family, which means there are not as many people in their network to properly help them get adjusted to college.  However, establishing a mentoring relationships with faculty and staff can fill this gap.  Having a person of accountability and someone that can give you unbiased advice can help students remain focus and on track after theyencounter normal bumps and hurdles of college life.
  3. Utilize all campus resources especially academic support. This a biggie.  Tutorial services can be wrongfully thought of as remedial for some students.  However, students who use academic support services have higher grades than those that do not.
  4. Get involved in professional and social organizations.  Students who are social engaged on campus have a higher retention and graduation rate than those who just go to class and go home.
  5. Ask for help. With all the un-student friendly bureaucracy of college, a simple academic or financial aid issue can quickly snowball into a major problem.  Many times students feel helpless and don’t know who or where to turn. Simply asking for help or direction can make a huge difference.


Gifting for College Success: My 2014 Graduation Gift Guide


It’s May. It’s the month for mothers and graduates. If you are like me, you are probably tallying up how many
graduation gifts you need to purchase this year.  When it comes to gifting, I’m usually a simple Susan and a practical Pam so all my gifts have to be useful and meaningful.  I have several high school graduates that I need to give a little something to. Thinking back to my high school to college transition, I had a lot of gifts that made my life simpler.  Many gifts are still in my arsenal 10 years later. I want to make sure my gifts to my graduates have the same practical potential. If you are looking to give more than a card with cash (not that they wouldn’t love that), here are a few gift ideas you may want to consider.

Sam’s or Costco Membership Card

This is definitely a gift that keeps on giving.  Help your favorite graduate save money on everyday essentials by buying in bulk.  Not only will this save money, but time on weekly store runs.  These member-only stores are great for purchasing toiletries, supplies, electronics, and non-perishable snacks.

Storage Totes and Containers

As college students, moving and packing becomes a semester or yearly routine. Making your whole life fit into a dorm room can be quite challenging as well.  Students will have to learn how to tuck and store many items in closets and under beds.   Plastic storage containers in any size can make packing, moving and storing easier.


College brings about great opportunities to travel.  Whether it is a spring break road trip, student org conference or weekend with the family, students are going to need durable luggage.


“No Excuse” Basket

 Deciding to go to class everyday sounds easy, but there are always something to get in the way of  attendance.  Besides giving the invaluable advice of “Go to class!”, you may want to help them get rid of any excuse that comes between them and the seat in class.  Fill a basket (or a storage container) with items such as an alarm clock with docking station, umbrella, poncho, and rain boots. alarm

“Get Well and Stay Well Basket”

Make sure your graduate is prepared for those sick days.  Put together a gift basket with pain, cold, flu, allergies and upset stomach medicines.  You may want to include vitamins and immune booster to help them beat getting those nasty germs that come with being cramp in classrooms and dorms.  Band-aids, peroxide, and anti-bacteria ointment can round out your basket to help with any bumps and bruises.

“Dorm Ready Basket”

Setting up a dorm room to feel like home takes a little bit of work.  Help make this transition easier with cleaning items such as disinfectant wipes and spray, air freshener, trash can, trash bags, paper towels and window cleaner. Bed sheets, washcloths, bath towels can also be a good addition to this package.

Career AdviceNavigating the Career Jungle Cover

Make sure 4.5 years from now your graduate is all smiles and gainfully employed in their desired career.  High school graduates should have a laser focus on their potential careers.  Gaining a competitive edge as a job candidate begins as soon as the first semester.  Having a clear cut career plan guides students in what courses they should take, activities they should participate, internships they should take, and graduate degrees to pursue.  Navigating the Career Jungle by Jacqueline Twillie, MBA is an excellent graduation gift.  This to guide takes the guess work out of career preparation.