‘Think 30’? I think not!

One student’s perspective on a college initiative designed to help students succeed

by Alexia Davis

The photo of a student in a graduation cap and gown that accompanies the DCCC “Think 30” initiative. Photo courtesy of Delaware County Community College

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I think about numbers a lot. The number of meals I will prepare for my family in a year is 1095. I will wash, fold and put away approximately 730 loads of laundry in a year and spend at least 104 hours running errands.

Then, there are the smaller numbers. I have one home with a mortgage and maintenance needs. I have two children, ages 6 and 7, for whom I have an enormous responsibility.

The numbers don’t stop, which is why I refuse to buy into the “Think 30” initiative at DCCC.

The message of the program seems clear. Students should take 30 credits per year so they can complete their degree in two years. In the end, students will be like the photo accompanying the initiative, graduates smiling in their caps and gowns.

When I began my journey at DCCC almost four years ago, I knew what I wanted. I also understood, having been in the workforce, that a degree is nothing if it stands alone. Only growth and knowledge can make it meaningful.

My success, I decided, would always be measured by the knowledge I acquired. If I wasn’t learning, I was failing, regardless of what my grades reflected. That is why I have never taken more than three courses per semester.

I remember sneaking back to the computer to work on assignments while my kids napped or became preoccupied with an activity. Then, after tucking my babies in at night, I would again return to the computer, hoping for enough energy to get some more school work done.

I am not alone. In my time at DCCC I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know many individuals. I learned that the majority of them are also raising a family, working fulltime jobs or both.

Those on the “Think 30” path admit to doing the bare minimum to get through and pass their courses. Even if they wanted to be getting more from their education, they couldn’t because there’s simply no time. Their academic career must always run parallel to the responsibilities of the real world.

Of course, it would be ideal if all students could manage and maintain the momentum needed to get their degree in a fixed amount of time. But at what cost?

There is an underlying message, whether intentional or not, in the DCCC “Think 30” initiative. That message is “just push through and get it done.” It is a message that shows no concern for the process of learning or the real success that comes from quality education.

It is a message that no educational institution should ever support. It is also a message that lacks any regard for the importance of maintaining a high grade point average (GPA).

Students who take on more than they can handle risk sabotaging their GPA, and in turn, their educational opportunities when it comes time to transfer. I can say with certainty that my GPA, currently a 4.0, would not have been possible if I had been on the “Think 30” path.

The goal of every student should not be to “just get it done.” It should be growth and knowledge, two things which drive momentum and motivation. That is the path to success, at least in my experience.

It’s time to rethink “Think 30.” We have enough numbers in our lives. What we need, is to “Think Success.”

Contact Alexia Davis at communitarian@mail.dccc. edu

A sign on the DCCC Downingtown campus conflicts with schoolwide “Think 30” initiative. Photo by Alexia Davis

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