There will be more rejoicing in the academic common room over one initially immature student who matures than over ninety-nine students who do not need to

Graduation hatA couple of weeks ago I was in on an University open day, talking to (approximately 17-years old) prospective students and their parents, today I was at our graduation reception, talking to the (21 to 22-year old) graduating students and their parents. The parents don’t change much between these events, the kids change a lot. It is just great to chat to our happy graduates and their proud parents. The parents are so proud of their kids. These graduates have worked hard and it is pleasing to see them being rewarded. It is a great feeling to know that you helped them.

This brings me to the repurposed Biblical quote above*. I chatted to a couple of students who did very well in their final year, but only kind-of-OK in their first two years, as they freely admitted. They did very well in their final year because they then decided to really work hard, learn stuff and maximise their considerable potential. So I can’t take very much credit for this. But I taught them of course, and over the years chatted to them about how their course was progressing, so I’d like to take a bit of credit.

Modern life as an academic is dominated by metrics and league tables, so it is good to be reminded that each year universities take in many thousands of students, and three or four years later most of them graduate smarter, wiser, and better.

*Original is “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” (Luke 15:7).

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