Attrition

I started out with nine or ten students in my class this semester. One of them never showed. When I called roll on the first day, a Thursday, he wasn’t there. When I opened the newspaper Saturday morning, I found out why. It appears quite likely that he will have the opportunity to pursue other modes of higher education while a guest of the Kansas legal system. For quite some time.

Another student enrolled late, came to class every session, and then disappeared. I found out that his financial aid arrangements did not come through in time, most likely due to not having been filed in time. He is now attending another community college in Kansas where the ability to run great passing routes is considered infinitely more important than filing financial aid forms in timely fashion.

Yet another student quit showing up about the same time as the route-runner. He was on probation (with the college, not the legal system, so far as I know) and had failed to show the kind of reformed citizen behavior that was required of him. He was invited to leave.

So, down to seven students, it was just downright discouraging yesterday when two of them did not show up. One of the ones who did show up, speaking in regard to one of the ones who didn’t show up, said, "She told me she wasn’t coming back to this class."

That was particularly disturbing since she had written just two weeks earlier "this is the only class I’m taking that I have any interest in." Sometimes, the cultural shock of coming to a town as tiny as Highland after having grown up in an urban environment is just too much.

I could dwell on the setbacks, frustrations and discouragements. Probably give myself a quick ticket to Bluesville. Instead, I remind myself that a community college should get quite a few students who find out they really aren’t ready for college and maybe never will be.

And then, I turn my attention to the ones who are still in my class. The ones who do show up, do turn in their assignments, keep their ears and eyes open and their cell phones closed. I miss the ones who leave but I keep my grieving short.

It is inevitable that some of the seed we sow falls upon the hard places and on the thin, rocky soil. But if whatever lands on good soil doesn’t produce fruit, I am determined that it will not be for lack of watering on my part.

The rest is in other hands than mine.

H. Arnett

2/25/11

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About Doc Arnett

Native of southwestern Kentucky currently living in Blair, Kansas, with my wife of twenty-five years, Randa. We have, between us, eight children and twenty-one grandkids. We enjoy singing, worship, remodeling and travel.
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