Wednesday, July 31, 2013

College Bound And Afraid She Won't Make The Grade

Dear Tazi:

I live in the great state of Texas, may God forever continue to bless Her, and I am faced with a conundrum (that’s a word from my SAT’s) that even my independent Texas breeding cannot help me solve. I will admit that I am too proud to ask for help from anyone I know, so I am writing to you to seek your advice. Farm animals have a great deal of what where I come from we call horse sense, and although a cat is not technically a farm animal unless it’s a barn cat, you seem like a smart little critter.

One of the many amazing things about the state of Texas is its terrific higher education system. It seems like every red-blooded American wants to get into it, which is why Texas limits the number of non-Texan admissions and, in order to please the affirmative action fanatics, accepts every applicant who places in the top 10-percent of their high school class. This way, we get a great cross-section of races because some school districts have a lot of one race and others have a lot of another race and since each race has its smart kids they are bound to end up at the top of their school regardless of their race. I am one of those students.

I’ve grown up on a farm, which I suppose is to say I have grown up poor although I never wanted for the best of what Texas and Mother Nature have to offer. I know there is more out there than what farming can offer and I see what that farm-girl Carrie Underwood has done and I want to do more with my life, too. I knew I would not be able to afford college so I worked hard to earn scholarships and I graduated at the top of my class! So now you’re probably wanting to know what my problem is, huh?

I am afraid that I will make a dang fool of myself if I got to college. I have been accepted to the University of Texas (the main campus in Austin) and I have enough scholarship money to pay for my first year, but I am afraid that my high school wasn’t one of the best in the state and that I will shame myself and my family by making a fool out of myself by failing out of college.

No Texan has ever given in to their fears before and I will not be the first one to do it, so I am going to go to college this fall. I was hoping you might have some advice for me on how to do well and not flunk out and embarrass myself and all that.

College Bound Cowgirl

Dear College Bound Cowgirl:

Your state pride is admirable and your desire to make your state – and its citizens and your loved one’s – proud of you will take you far in life. Personally, I think it is the desire to succeed at something that pushes us towards success far more than our knowledge of how to do it. Knowledge can be learned, but ambition is not something that can be taught!

Normally acceptance into college and high school class standing are two things that you should be proud of, and they should give you the confidence you need to move forward; however, if your school was not a good one you are right to question the validity of these criteria. Your high school must maintain certain standards to achieve state accreditation (required to remain open and as a diploma-granting institution) so I am not worried about the level of education you received. So long as you were in a college preparatory program and earned a “B” average or better (without a scale in grading) you should be fine going to college. If your grades or your standing were somehow inflated – graded on a curve, taking non-college preparatory classes – or your average was “C” level you may want to consider starting at a junior college or community college close to home and then transferring to a four year school once you have had some experience learning and working at the college level.

I run a spelling and grammar check on all of the letters I print, and had to do quite a bit of fixing on your sentence structure, but this could be because you used a colloquial form of writing. (Was “colloquial” one of your SAT words?). Every college that I know of requires freshman students to take a Writing class where they teach the importance of grammar and what is expected of you in college writing, so I am not too worried about how you will fare with the written word.

Can you guess which one is the freshman and
which one is the senior?

If you are having trouble in any of your classes, the most important thing to do is to talk to the professor immediately; not after you have failed your first exam, but as soon as you realize you are having trouble understanding the material. Professors have office hours during which they are happy to meet with students! Many colleges and universities also have free peer tutoring programs for enrolled students. These programs can make the difference between failing and passing and between passing and excelling!

Last of all, always buy the book for the class and keep up with the assigned reading! Once you get settled into school, put together a schedule allowing for free time, reading/study time, and anything else you need to fit into it and then stick to that schedule. Half the battle of making it through college is being disciplined enough to get all of your work done.

In the end, if you have done all you can do and discover that college is not the best fit for you, hold your head high and know that even The Alamo was lost after a long and arduous fight.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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