For many years, a popular student peer mentor who is now an alumnus of our program would greet everyone on their Facebook profile with “Salutations on the anniversary of your birth!” to celebrate birthdays. It always made me smile. It still does.
There is an amusement park near my home that has one of those lose your lunch inducing rides that spin faster and faster until the floor drops out. It leaves you stuck to the wall until the ride slows and you gradually resume your footing on solid ground. The science of this phenomenon is centrifugal inertial force.
My university is welcoming 4,356 6,000+ new students to campus as we begin the fall semester; colleges across the country are welcoming thousands more. Imagine the inertial force as these students navigate classes, new roommates, and campus cultures that are frequently in contrast to their personal experiences.
Now, imagine your campus as a giant spinning disk with a student planted firmly in place by centripetal force, moving along the curved path of the disk, going with the flow. All is fine as the student survives residence move-in, deciphers a schedule, and maneuvers the dining center. But soon the campus disk is spinning faster and the centrifugal inertial force can become greater than the centripetal friction force holding the student in place. A failing quiz grade, roommate argument, financial difficulties or homesickness can all be triggers to send our students flying right off the college ride.
As we in student affairs greet our new students and those who are returning, it is important that we keep these laws of physics in mind. Know what resources you have available to address student concerns. Advocate for your students when university networks are difficult to follow. Listen carefully for clues that a student may be struggling.
Understanding F = mv2/r may just graduate a student.
It’s increasingly difficult for the middle class to afford a high-quality public education. That’s a huge concern of mine. Our long-term goal would be that any qualified Iowan could graduate debt free. That’s the direction we want to be going. ~Steven Leath, president-elect
The next subprime crisis will come from defaults on student debts, starting with for-profit colleges and rising to the Ivy League. The parallels with housing are striking. In both, the written warnings aren’t understood, especially on penalties and interest rates. And in both, it’s assumed that what’s being bought will rise in value, in one case the real estate, in the other the salaries which will accrue with a degree. One bubble has burst; the second is already losing air.
No trumpets sound when the important decisions of our lives are made. Destiny is made known silently. ~Agnes de Mille
Some weeks in student affairs you make decisions that change students lives. Enrollment decisions, financial decisions, leadership decisions; decisions that have impact and meaning.
Other weeks, you decide whether the construction crew repairing your building will do more damage moving a twelve-foot tall, one-half ton wooden sculpture or building a safety barrier around it with scaffolding and bubble wrap.