Bringing domestic student exchange to the conversation


canada-and-usThank you to David J. Smith for bringing domestic student exchange to the conversation on global initiatives in Getting to “E Pluribus Unum”. As president of the nonprofit National Student Exchange organization and a former NSE campus coordinator, I shared the following comments.

National Student Exchange was founded in 1968, a time when our nation was searching to understand its identity, history, and how differences fit into the idea of American culture. What began as three institutions exchanging seven students has grown into a premier network of 160 colleges and universities exchanging 2,000 students annually throughout the United States, Canada, and U.S. Territories of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam.

Initiatives to enhance global engagement often overlook the diversity of North America in their quest. Scholarships and fellowships that promote international education are rarely available for domestic study away. Domestic exchanges seldom satisfy core or general educational requirements for global engagement or cultural studies, despite their cultural breadth.

Cultural agility can be greatly enhanced crossing state and provincial borders, not just oceans. NSE member campuses report domestic study away as a high impact practice supporting student satisfaction and persistence. Increasing populations of underrepresented and first-generation students are choosing NSE study away, emphasizing the need for access and choice in these opportunities. As noted by Sobania and Braskamp (2009), recent college graduates are more likely to have a post-college career with diverse colleagues from their own country than from other parts of the world.

NSE campuses range in enrollment from 600 to more than 50,000 students. In addition to AAU Research I universities, NSE member campuses include:
12 Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU)
21 Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI)
7 Urban 13 universities
14 Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC)

As noted, succeeding in our political and global reality requires professionals who can operate effectively and empathetically in cross-cultural and international environments. National Student Exchange and domestic study away programs are not simply study abroad alternatives or preparatory opportunities; they are academic and personal experiences to be celebrated and encouraged for the dimension they bring to college students, degree programs, our workforce, and communities.

 

Sobania, N. & Braskamp, L. A. (2009). Study abroad or study away: It’s not merely semantics. Peer Review 11 (4).

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Let It Snow

Photo: Ken Libbrecht

Photo: Ken Libbrecht

Juno. Linus. Marcus. Our friends at The Weather Channel began naming winter storms in 2012 to aid communication during complex storm systems. And although I am not a fan of winter’s shorter days and wind chill, I appreciate the beauty and peacefulness of a snowfall despite the chaos major storms can wreak with travel, school, and safety.
Understanding the conditions and temperature that will produce certain snowflakes allows scientists to assist in the prediction of snowfall. Check out the latest snow science at SnowCrystals.com including beautiful photography and a primer on snowflake physics.  And yes, they can verify that no two snowflakes are alike.
Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else. ~Margaret Mead

Senior Night

Senior night in high school sports is a time to recognize graduating students and their accomplishments. At the pre-game celebration for our local girls soccer team, players were honored with a bouquet of flowers while escorted to center field by their parents. Honors and activities are announced for each player, culminating with where they will be attending college in the fall. It was no surprise that each player from our academically ranked high school was heading to a four-year institution including several research universities and prestigious private colleges.
Fast-forward a week to an opportunity to attend another senior night, in a small town 40 miles from our small university city. Only this time as each player is introduced, the future plans are predominantly for community college. Only two of the twenty players were planning to attend a 4-year college or university. And 17 of the twenty players were Latina.
Why the difference? Demographics and privilege are most certainly a factor. Our small city is 85% White with 3% of persons identifying as Hispanic or Latino/a compared to a town where 35% of the population is Hispanic or Latino/a. The Latino population has grown dramatically in the town over the last decade with the addition of a new meat packing plant. These backbreaking low-wage jobs are attractive steady work for the mostly of Mexican-origin immigrants moving into Iowa.
College enrollment of U.S. Hispanic students surpassed that of White students for the first time in 2012. In contrast, the number of Hispanics completing four-year degrees only accounted for 9% of young adults. Hispanic students continue to be less likely to enroll in a four-year college or attend college full-time.
Our university student success committee has spent significant discussion time on Who Gets to Graduate? While formulating models for student persistence, we review many variables involved in graduating the students on our campus where Hispanic and Latino/a students make up the largest non-majority population. Our students of all ethnicities are academically motivated, but are frequently working class and first-generation, which sometimes translates to not being prepared for the rigor of higher education at a research university.
So the question becomes not only who gets to graduate, but also who gets to enroll?

Defining our work in student affairs

Nevitt Sanford is one of my favorite student affairs theorists. Sanford’s (1967) theory on student development was based upon providing a balance of challenge and support. Too much support with too little challenge creates a cushy environment for the student, where development is unlikely to occur. However, the opposite of too little support with too much challenge also makes development an impossible and negative experience.

Sanford was a political and social psychologist and instrumental in defining how prejudices and racism are defined early in childhood. His The Authoritarian Personality is a classic work in understanding the issues behind the Holocaust. Sanford engaged in a decade long academic freedom lawsuit with the University of California when he refused to sign a loyalty oath during the McCarthy era.

If we could punish people with extremely unpopular opinions then we could silence people with less unpopular opinions.  ~Nevitt Sanford

It was Sanford’s work in student development theory that defines my philosophy for student affairs. Sanford pushed for colleges and universities to provide access and service to those for whom higher education may be out of reach. He challenged us to consider what education would look like if colleges enrolled students whom they could help the most, rather than compete for the students who boosted academic rankings and visibility.

What theorist or theory defines your work in student affairs?

Sanford, N. (1950). The authoritarian personality. New York, NY: Harper.

Sanford, N. (1967). Self & society: social change and individual development. New York, NY: Atherton Press.

This week’s interesting reads…

Articles that I have found myself returning to several times over the past few days. I hope that you find them interesting as well. Read on.

26 Types of Blog Posts

Our Sphere of Control in a Student Affairs World

5 Ways White Feminists Can Address Our Own Racism

The Myers-Briggs Assessment is No Fad

The MBTI–My Most Valid Tool

11 Tips to Keep iOS7 From Destroying Your Battery Life

I Don’t Want Tim Wise As An Ally. No Thanks.

Just Say No to Saying No

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When I read yet another article minimizing the value of a college education I am challenged by thoughts of privilege.  Yes, Steve Jobs, an individual I greatly admire, was a college dropout, but at least he had the opportunity to give it a try. Mark Zuckerberg’s intelligence and initiative is without question, but how many students can realistically include Harvard on their college wish list? And then walk away from the opportunity?

I do not discount hard work, enterprise, and determination. But for those of us who are simply above-average, or first-generation, or of a marginalized population, college is the pathway to get a step ahead, a leg up, a move toward potential success. Yes, student loan debt and college costs demand answers, but denying the value of learning, but for an elite few, is not the answer. Just say Go. Go to college.

Take your Vitamin C’s

Today was the 10th Annual Iowa State Conference on Race and Ethnicity (ISCORE). I have been on the planning committee for this conference since year two, and it has been amazing to see our growth each year. We welcomed more than 800 faculty, staff, and student participants to this 2009 event.


Our conference keynote speaker was NPR’s Michele Norris. In her SRO presentation, Race, Gender, and the Future of Leadership in America, Ms. Norris engaged us with observations of a year of political change through the storytelling for which she is known. She addressed our students directly by encouraging them to remember their Vitamin C’s.

Collaboration. Change happens when individuals lock arms together and march forward. Engage those around you to follow your dreams and beliefs and be supportive of what they bring to the effort.

Cut. Eliminate one activity, one committee, one obligation. Build an hour back in your day. College students today do too much with too little time. Cut back and make time for yourself.

Camaraderie. Don’t forget about your friends, they are the ones to get you through your day and your life. It’s easy to become so focused on goals and outcomes that you forget the people that you really need.

When asked whether our country is capable of moving toward a post-racial society, Ms. Norris shared that recent political events lead some to believe we have already achieved a post-racial place in America. Norris said this compares to riding an express elevator to the top of a skyscraper. You have a great ride and get out on the observation deck where the view is wonderful. But you fail to stop at the floors on the way up where the view is not so great.