Succeed Rather Than Survive

A common dilemma is that many individuals are taught to survive and not to succeed.   The great news is that it does not have to be this way.  According to Schatzel, Callahan, Scott, & Davis (2011), “An estimated 21% of 25–34-year-olds in the United States, about eight million individuals, have attended college and quit before completing a degree.” (p.47)  In today’s economy this is detrimental because the repercussions are that individuals who drop out of college are still left without a degree and  a majority are left with larger debt.  This creates a greater national deficit with regard to America’s income to debt ratio.  So what happens is that many continue on welfare, default on student loans, and never complete college. This contributes poorly to their self-esteem and results in a lot of college student dropping out to merely survive.

Most nontraditional students are first generation college students. A first generation student is defined as a student that comes from a family where neither parent/guardian graduated from college. What this means is a majority of these students have not been shown the perseverance it takes to endure the challenges of completing a degree.  Other disadvantages for first generation students are that as they enter college, they are usually working more hours, have lower family incomes, and have more financial dependents (Mehta, Newbold, & Sanjay, 2011). As a result they are faced with odds that can make attending college through to completion very difficult.

What are some solutions to these common found problems?  First word of advice is to make the goal of graduating from college not an option but an absolute.  Every time discouragement, fear or circumstance tries to detour students away from their goal they must draw a boundary according to the absolute and decide quitting school is not an option, “absolutely not”!!!  Another suggestion is to write down this goal where it is visible and write down all the positives that will occur as a result of this goal.  For instance graduating from college will allow them to make better money, which will allow them to advance in their career.   Another positive result may be that the individual will be the “1st generation” graduate in the family producing a model of discipline and perseverance, thus breaking the cycle of low income.  The benefits can be numerous, but one must really sit down and think about the positive ramifications as a result of completing the goal.  Another suggestion is speaking positive affirmations to one’s self.  Eliminate all destructive thought and self-talk and replace it with encouraging affirmations. One must become very accurate in how one speaks to one’s self. For example, “Because I sincerely care about myself, my family etc. and the quality of my life, I will graduate from college.”  This seems like a simple technique, however more often than not people tend to discourage themselves rather than encourage themselves.   So, it is important to write down positive affirmations that can be repeated internally to remind one’s self why it is important to accomplish their goal.

Life is too short to spend it full of regrets.  There is much more to life than just survival. Upon overcoming adversity and successful completion of difficult goals, one can reference with joy 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”. (ESV)

~Who do you know that wants to break the cycle?


Mehta, S. Newbold, J. & Sanjay M. (2011). Why do first generational students fail? College Student Journal, 45 (1), 20-35.

Schatzel, K. Callahan, T. Scott C.& Davis, T.(2011) Reaching the non-traditional stopout population: A  segmentation approach. Journal of Marketing for Higher Education21 (1), 47-60 doi: 10.1080/08841241.2011.569590