If I could offer only one piece of advice to all students it would be to set your sights on graduation and never consider or think about dropping out or even stopping out. Yes, I know the phrase “drop out” has become politically incorrect and we now prefer to use less blunt wording like “failing to persist,” but I’m afraid the lack of blunt directness may unintentionally mask the dangers of leaving college before graduation.

Numerous studies indicate that a college graduate will earn about $1 million dollars more over his/her working lifetime than a high school graduate. And, if a student drops out of college and ends up with only a high school diploma to take into the workforce it will probably be a million dollar mistake because to an employer “some college” pales in comparison to “college graduate” when it comes to hiring and promotion decisions.

Yes, I understand that “life happens,” but it happens to both students who persist and graduate just as it does with those who fail to graduate. So, what’s the difference between the students who graduate and those who drop out? Is it grades? Sometimes, but often it is not grade problems. Is it financial problems? Yes, it is often financial challenges that frighten, distract, and discourage students… some to the point of leaving school. Financial issues frequently occur in the lives of those who will eventually graduate too, but they overcome the challenges and finish in spite of their fiscal problems.

The primary difference I seem to observe is that the group destined to graduate exhibits a higher level of resilience, persistence, and perseverance. Now, you may think those three words are synonyms, but they are not. Resilience is the ability to recover from setbacks, persistence is basically ability to continue in the face of difficult challenges, and perseverance is simply persisting all the way to the end! NOTE: These are my utilitarian definitions… perhaps not to be found in a Dictionary.  

Our Mission Statement reads: Missouri Southern State University will educate and graduate knowledgeable, responsible, successful global citizens.

Every member of the university faculty, staff, and administration have dedicated themselves to achieving this mission. But, it’s a two-way street and it requires students who will be equally dedicated.

So, remain focused on the end goal of graduation and be as resilient and persistent as possible. If you do that, I can almost guarantee you that perseverance will carry you across the finish line to graduation as a knowledgeable, responsible, and successful global citizen.

We are all in this together and understand our shared responsibility for student success. There are numerous academic and student support services available for you to utilize as we move toward our common goal of Commencement, where you will proudly walk across the stage, receive your diploma, and become an alumnus of Missouri Southern. That will be another great day to be a Lion! 

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