We are Ray and Kelli, counselors at City. Comic-Con: Write for the Entertainment Industry. Pay off 68K in debt. Good samaritan gets rewarded. Donating blood to save babies. Job security. Teen gets into 20 colleges. Yolanda Renee King. Moments from March for Our Lives. Protest. Parkland Students Rally Against Gun Violence. Scholarships: fastweb.com. Waitress wins scholarship for kindness. Generation Z and guns. Dignity. 14 acts of kindness. Best jobs for 2018.

The veterans page: Veterans Day. A surprised 8-year-old. Honoring heroic dog. Honorably discharged veterans shop tax-free. Forever GI Bill. Father takes care of 4 children. Integrate Marine Training? Robotic legs. Costs of war. Saluting a fallen soldier. 300K Lotto winner. Vets and painkillers. Vet resources. Grandmother of veteran's family deported. Housing the homeless. Veteran finds healing through adopting a cat. Wounded Marines help others.

Empowering students to fulfill their dreams through education.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Student Success – An Introduction by Kelli Turpin

Student Success – An Introduction
 by Kelli Turpin

A successful student balances on a stool with three legs.  Leg #1 is motivation.  If you don’t want to be in college, it’s going to be extremely hard to make the time and spend the money to do it well.  Leg #2 is time.  A student must come to class prepared to learn in order to get the most out of class time.  All classes require reading and some kind of exams; most also require papers and other types of homework, all of which (with the exception of the actual exams) occur outside of class.  Leg #3 is money.  Class fees for California residents are relatively inexpensive – once the rates go up to $46 per unit, students in New Mexico, the state with the next cheapest fees, still pay an extra $2.50 per unit – but the expensive part of college is books.  The average college book is $100-$150 and some classes require multiple books at that price.  We’ll talk about each of the legs in separate posts, but first, we need to define what we mean by “success.”

Who defines student success?  Ideally, the student.  Student A wants to learn about history.  He takes some history classes and walks away.  As far as he’s concerned, pass or fail, whatever grade he earned (or didn’t earn), he has successfully done what he wanted to do: he learned some history.  Student Z, however, wants to become a pediatrician.  She wants to transfer to UC Berkeley, double major in Biology and Development Studies, then go to medical school at UC San Francisco.  For her, grades matter – both Berkeley and medical schools demand great grades.  Completion matters – it takes a long time to get a medical degree and she wants to get done, so she can do what she loves.  Both students came to college for a reason – they had motivation – but their definition of success differed markedly.

Realistically speaking, success has to be defined at an institutional or legislative level and falls somewhere in between the two extremes.  According to the San Diego Community College District, a student maintains “good standing” (which is predictive of some form of success), when s/he maintains at least a 2.0 GPA and completes at least 61% of the units s/he attempts.  According to the State of California, “success” is measured by 6-year graduation and/or transfer rates.  Neither of these measures is perfect.  A 2.0 GPA in San Diego won’t get you into most majors at most of the local universities.  Some people take longer than 6 years to graduate and/or transfer.  Each measure gives the institution the ability to see what we’re doing well and what we need to work on.

For the purposes of this discussion, “success” refers to a student completing classes that work toward a goal.  The student may be required to earn a certain GPA to achieve that goal, but must maintain at least a 2.0 for an associate degree.

Homework {cue groans}: Before our next installment, your homework is this: Spend some time imagining what “success” looks like to you.  What is your long-term goal?  What will your life look like ten years from now?  Will you have a specific job, live in a specific place, love a specific person?  Who will you be in a decade? 


  1. Great article, Kelli! Looking forward to more about time and money.

  2. I hope fees don't go up to $46 a unit.

  3. The word verification to leave a comment is a real pain. Try it and see if you can leave a comment.

    1. What you have to do is enter the words with a space, then hit "edit" and "publish" before it will publish. If you just type the words and hit "enter," you're going to get an annoying bell tone.