4 Pillars for College Success

For students, parents, and educators alike, the following TEDx talk from Dr. Freeman Hrabowski is full of powerful insights on how we can work together in building paths of success. We promise that it’s well worth your time.

Work from strengths and set high expectations. Build a community of scholars. We help students develop strong peer networks and encourage them to see one another as partners, rather than competitors. It is effective — and powerful — when students support and hold one another accountable.

Engage students in meaningful research. When asked who contributed most to their academic success, students will almost always mention a faculty member. Faculty-student connections are critical, and it’s especially important that faculty engage students in meaningful research. We like to say: It takes researchers to produce researchers.

Hold yourself to quantifiable progress. We constantly evaluate the outcomes of our work, and that evaluation is data-driven, not anecdotal. For example, we know that the various features of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program — peer support groups, intensive advising, early research experiences — work in combination. But which elements of our approach are most critical and cost-effective? If we don’t look critically at what works — and what does not — we can’t recalibrate and continue to improve.

Keep at it. A graduate recently wrote me to share a quote from Aristotle: “We are what we repeatedly do; excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” To fuel that kind of persistence, hold fast to this one key truth: The world does not always have to be as it is today.

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