Mike Adams

The second group, the Sagacious Seventy, also derives its name from its character and its proportions. This is the group of students who, as the name implies, are shrewder and more goal-oriented than the Tweeny Twenty. Fortunately - I only say "fortunately" because they are fairly well behaved and manageable - they are about seventy percent of the student population.

Having some clue of what they are doing in college, they behave as rational individuals. They come to class pretty regularly and go through the motions in order to get their course credit. They have calculated that having a degree is better than not having a degree and that the amount they pay in student loans will be exceeded by the salary increase that accompanies having a college degree. Of course, many of these students have miscalculated and will never pay off their loans but that is another issue to be explored at a later date.

In short, these students come to college to get credentialed. They know that employers want to see an applicant’s degree because that means they had the stick-to-it-ness to set a goal and follow through. They also know that it doesn't require much work to get their expensive degree so they divert study time toward work time. They take a part time job in order to keep their student loans down even if this means turning in sub-par work. They know their professors have come to expect sub-par work. Like most of our students, they are intelligent and keenly self-interested. They do the cost-benefit analysis and make a reasonable decision in a difficult situation that is becoming more difficult as college becomes more expensive.

I will do everything within my ability to threaten these people into doing work that is only slightly sub-par, instead of clearly deficient. I know they are used to being given good grades for work that is clearly deficient. But I also know that they cannot risk failing my class. So I will threaten them and hopefully (through fear) motivate them to soar towards mediocrity in their academic work output. It's really the best I can hope for in an age of hyper-inflated hire (misspelling intentional) education.

The last group, the Tenacious Ten, also derives its name from its character and its proportions. This is the group of students who, as the name implies, are highly determined and persistent and cannot easily be distracted from their goals. Unfortunately, they are only about ten percent of the student population.

The Tenacious Ten may well have good genes. I don't know for sure. But I do know that they usually had good parents who taught them good life lessons. Also, more than likely, they had good counselors in their schools or in the churches. And so they are focused and ready from day one.

In short, the Tenacious Ten are here because they desire specific knowledge that will help them attain a specific goal. As a result, they have an intrinsic appreciation of the material I plan to teach throughout the semester. So there is no need to threaten or cajole or manipulate them into performing at expected levels. They just do it because they come to college having already gotten into the habit of doing it on their own.

This message is just my way of reminding you that when I talk about “our” class I am not talking about all thirty of you. I am talking to about three of you - those who constitute the Tenacious Ten percent. You are the only reason I am still teaching. I look forward to finding out who you are. I don't suspect it will take very long to identify you..

I hope this message finds you well. If you are in the Tweeny Twenty, I hope it scares the hell out of you – so much so that you drop the course. Otherwise, I will see you in class on Monday.

Mike Adams

Mike Adams is a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and author of Letters to a Young Progressive: How To Avoid Wasting Your Life Protesting Things You Don't Understand.