College or Die isn’t only a motto for the Charles A. Tindley Accelerated School. It’s a way of life. It’s the reason the students – and teachers – willingly come to school early, stay late, and even come in on Saturdays and Sundays. Tindley’s zero-tolerance disciplinary policy stems from this motto, as do the separation of female and male students from fifth through ninth grade and maintaining the same rigorous academic goals for every student in the building.

The 100% graduate acceptance to selective colleges and universities across the nation shows that students and faculty believe College or Die with every fiber of their beings. It’s Tindley’s position: what the school can claim as uniquely its own. And while the meaning and execution are full of love and hope, the words “college or die” themselves require a bit of context.

When Tindley approached us to create the tools they needed to take their growth to the next level, the first item on our checklist was familiarizing ourselves with the school, and, most important, the students. We wanted to find out what those words meant to them—and how we could make them meaningful to others.

We worked with students, faculty, staff, the board, funders, and parents to understand what Tindley meant to them and to define the messages that communicate what a special place Tindley is. What we concluded was that, sometimes, College or Die was exactly what we wanted to say. In other instances, College or Die had to be communicated with a little more subtlety. For example, copywriter Matt Gonzales’s headlines for Tindley literature included:

Building character with compassion.
Building college students without compromise.

These messages were also implicit in a moving almost-ten-minute documentary video we produced for Tindley with Richmarc Productions. (No, we don’t recommend a ten-minute video for you. Yes, you should watch the whole Tindley video. You can see it below.)

We’re honored to work with such an innovative and amazing school. And we’ve only just begun. Stay tuned.