Inspiring students

A Gallup poll of 30,000 college graduates found that “name-brand” schools don’t produce happier lives or more success than good old generic ones.

So, while we may marvel at stories like the recent one about the New York teenager who had been accepted at all eight Ivy League schools, a better predictor of his ultimate success may well be if he can find a professor to inspire him.

That was the conclusion Gallup reached in its survey. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, a good teacher is the key.

“It matters very little where you go; it’s how you do it,” Gallup Education Executive Director Brandon Busteed said. “Having a teacher who believes in a student makes all the difference.”

The story brought to mind our college days at Texas Tech. The classes in political science taught by Dr. William Oden were much in demand – we took three of them. Dr. Oden didn’t just inspire individual students – whole classes loved his lectures and the ensuing give and take in the discussions were the most fun we had in college.

Plus, he always hung around after class to continue the discussion.

Even lackluster students like we were prepared hard for, and participated in, his classes. Not coincidentally, we think we probably learned the most in Dr. Oden’s classes. Today there is an endowed scholarship at Texas Tech in his memory.

So, the results from the Gallup study are not surprising. There are good teachers everywhere. Entrance to an elite school does not guarantee either academic or professional success.

Kwasi Enin, the above-mentioned student who was accepted at all of the Ivies, may have a leg up on his fellow seniors. He has chosen to go to Yale – a very prestigious school.

But it remains to be seen if a Yale professor – or professors – can help inspire him to reach his full potential. We hope he and our friends’ kids attending lesser-known schools find their own personal Dr. Oden.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.