Raymond Gerson, adjunct professor of student development at Austin Community College, wrote the book on succeeding in college — literally. His book, “Achieve College Success: Learn How in 20 Hours or Less,” is used in college readiness courses at ACC and elsewhere.
Not bad for someone who once was told he was not “college material.”
“That’s kind of the irony,” says Gerson, who has taught college skills courses at ACC since 2006. “There are probably some former teachers who would be turning over in their graves if they knew I was teaching this course.”
That’s also why he knows that with the right assistance and preparation, even the most at-risk students can develop the skills they need for college or a career.
“You could call these survival skills,” he says. “We want to give the students survival skills and help them to succeed.”
Gerson, who holds a master’s degree in psychology, came to teaching after retiring as an executive recruiter, corporate trainer, and career counselor.
“I found a late-in-life mission of college and career readiness.” His seven books on school success, career planning, and personal development have evolved into workshops and training for other instructors teaching college readiness courses — curriculum taught to students as young as eighth grade as more schools attempt to reach out to students early.
‘Many think they haven’t accomplished anything to be proud of. We need to help them find what they can be good at.’
Gerson himself worked with Early College High School students at Reagan High School, where he watched at-risk youth produce good work once a spark was ignited.
“Many think they haven’t accomplished anything to be proud of. We need to help them find what they can be good at. Once they have that, then they have intrinsic motivation. We help them think about how they can apply what they learn to school and life.”
While data shows that ACC’s college skills courses support retention and improved grades, Gerson says what’s satisfying is hearing from students who have gone on to earn a college degree.
“For all of us, what’s most gratifying is those you see who are succeeding and they tell us that some of their success is because of what they learned here.”
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