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John Davis (College)

John came to see us his junior year of high school. He was a well-mannered young man who had a very average academic record at a good suburban high school. John was engaging and thoughtful, often stopping to consider what was said to him before answering. He was frank about his efforts in school. He said that he liked his teachers but just could not seem to discipline himself to get his work done. Consequently, John had had few successes in the classroom. He did, however, talk about his 9th grade English teacher, whom he adored. She had a way of challenging him that was non-threatening. She was firm but very supportive, always checking on him in class or in the school hallways. She had connected with him and he did well in her class. Unfortunately, his other teachers found John to be polite but disconnected, a student who rarely participated and often didn't complete his homework. Socially, John hung around a crowd who dabbled in alcohol and marijuana at parties on week-ends. All were college bound but none were especially driven to push themselves. It was not surprising that John was the way he was.

After having met John, we came up with a list of colleges that, on one hand, reflected his performance at school and, on the other, suggested his true potential. All were small liberal arts institutions that would provide John with a structured and supportive environment where he would be more likely to find professors like his English teacher. John was surprised by the caliber of some of the colleges on the list. We felt he was capable enough to be considered. However, there were certain things he would need to do. He would have to start consistently doing his homework in order to show his teachers what he was capable of accomplishing. He would also have to find an activity or club to join in or outside of school. When he heard our suggestions, John seemed shocked that there was such a formulaic solution to his situation.

First, John needed to learn how to study. For so many years, he had been getting by doing his work right before class, often resorting to reviewing friends' notes before tests. We found him a study-skills tutor who worked with him twice a week to teach him organization strategies as well as time management. Immediately, John began to see improvement. In class, his impulse to hide gradually disappeared. He began to participate and his responses to questions were clearly more informed. He also began to regularly turn in his homework assignments. His teachers immediately noticed the change, and as a result, his grades went up, as did his self-confidence. 

Much to his parents' surprise, John found a job working at a local gas station. Months later, he admitted that if it weren't for his job, he would not have been able to do as well in school. He said that the gas station offered him time away from his friends and provided the downtime he needed to do his homework.

John was accepted at several colleges. He chose to attend a small Quaker college in North Carolina because of its size and reputation for close student-teacher relationships. He is currently in his junior year, majoring in political science. He has continued to maintain a high grade point average which he attributes to his active interactions with his professors. He recently returned from studying abroad in Strasbourg, France where he interned at the European Parliament