A couple of weeks ago, I finally saw my “candidate for graduation” hold on my iRattler, as a result of completing the new graduation process.
Once the excitement of posting a picture of the hold to my Facebook died, and humility took over.
I knew I had survived a four-and-a-half year trek through the jungle we call Florida A&M.
Looking at university’s graduation rate, it’s clear that a timely matriculation on the Hill can be compared to the evolutionary concept of “survival of the fittest.”
FAMU’s four-year graduation rate is about 11 percent; nearly 30 percent of students who are retained graduate in five years, and 39 percent graduate in six years.
And yes, there are a few those brave souls who can stomach spending more than six years surrounded by pretentious and ironically materialistic young adults. The eight-year graduation rate is also about 40 percent.
Again, these rates are for those who came to FAMU as first-year freshmen and stayed until and throughout their fourth-year and beyond. The proportion of first-year freshmen who stay until their fourth-year is about 64 percent…not bad.
I’ve crafted a bit of evolutionary pseudo-science to explain our perceptually low graduation and retention rates.
When the typical FAMU freshman, taxonomically referred to as “fresheus meatus,” hatches from its shell of parental protection and arbitrary high school traditions, it is forced to survive on a campus where several predatory species roam.
One the first predators, freshius meatus, will encounter happens to be of the lowly predators on campus, the party promoter, taxonomically identified as homo-aggravatus.
Party promoters will use their natural aggravating instinct of cheaply crafted event fliers and an insistence that you take one and consider attending (as if studying isn’t more important).
The freshman is instinctively behooved to cross the street when they see these predators, usually males. Otherwise they are doomed to develop into the dreaded, weaker subspecies “homo here-foreverus,” better known as the student who never leaves.
If the freshman is able to avoid the party promoter, then they will find time to venture to Foote-Hilyer to turn in their financial aid paperwork to a financial aid counselor, taxonomically designated as “homo perplexus-discombobulus.”
They are classified as such for their unique ability to lie to students with a straight-face. They are further distinguished by their ornery dispositions and tendency to ruin lives.
Freshius meatus must follow their instructions carefully at the beginning of each semester, or again, they risk developing into the feeble-minded irresponsible student.
By successfully conquering the predators in Foote-Hilyer, the freshman can now venture into an open campus only to be met by larger more experienced students, who are identified with a number of student sub-species.
The first of these student subspecies, of which the freshman must escape becoming prey, are the SGA members, or “homo deceitus.”
SGA members are very likely to develop into money-grubbing turncoats, known in society as politicians. They appear to be both phenotypically and genotypically attractive.
But the freshman shan’t be fooled. For under their suits, polo shirts, name-tags, catchy introductions and perceptually high GPAs, they are really just robots trained to take orders from themselves.
The second student sub-species to avoid would be the Greeks, or “homo-lameus.” Upon hatching from its shell, this species begins life at FAMU as a student who just wants to fit in, or “homo desparatus.”
Once they are granted their perceived brother- or sisterhood at a toll, they sometimes develop into another student subspecies, “homo here-foreverus.”
By avoiding pointless group associations, one saves money and reduces the risk of becoming a campus fixture.
The task of surviving on the Hill and graduating in four years is not a difficult one. But the freshman must gain the ability to avert the predators roaming FAMU’s campus.
If the freshman is successful in fighting off these predators for three more years in its habitat, it will develop into the strongest subspecies of them all, “homo indifferentus.”
After four years of fighting for survival, “homo indifferentus” is ready to graduate. It’s instinct is to “not-give-a-crap” about anything or anyone it encounters on the Hill.