Words exclaimed when you complete the results chapter of your dissertation.
Fear not. I am certain that I will not post my entire dissertation countdown, but I really like this sign as Highway 99 runs through the city of my birth, Sacramento, California. In a small way, it signifies how far I have traveled on this journey. Whatever journey it may be, or become.
Ninety-nine could be the number of ways that I have found to avoid working on statistical analyses, reading articles, or writing chapter drafts. I loathe many (most) of these tasks but will frequently find them more appealing than working on my dissertation.
99. Clean kitchen junk drawer.
98. Clean craft closet.
97. Empty cat box.
96. Bake cookies. (No loathing.)
95. Clean computer screen.
94. Eat chips and dip. (No loathing, but not a healthy food choice.)
93. Fold laundry.
92. Sort ponytail elastics.
87. Did I say Twitter?
86. Soccer practice shuttle driver.
85. Soccer tournament shuttle driver.
84. More soccer.
83. Parent-Teacher Conferences.
82. Shopping. (No loathing, just guilt.)
81. Shopping for soccer cleats. (Borderline loathing.)
80. Prepare a meal. (No loathing, but it’s a good thing we have cereal.)
Three and a half years ago, I made the decision to earn a PhD. After spending 90% of my professional career (post-Bachelor’s degree) working in higher education, it seemed a logical step.
It has been hard work. One class at a time. Work. Family. Soccer. More work.
There is a reason that only 3% of the U.S. population attain a PhD.
Because it is hard work.
My dissertation defense is in 100 days.
Happy Anniversary to to the eighteen and life blog!
Much has happened here in the last four years. Each post reminds me of the events, coursework, research, and friendships that have framed this blog. The topic cloud on the right highlights my work and my passions: student affairs, higher education, first-year students. As the posts have been sparse this year while I work on my dissertation, I appreciate that you are sticking with me.
Here’s a video reminder that as doors open for you, be sure to pay it forward and open doors for others.
This overview of research paradigms assembled by Laura Pasquini inspired me to share my own postpositivist worldview and the research shaping it. As a postpositivist, I search for context and believe that causes determine outcomes. Thus, when type assessments collected in my first-year seminar showed trends for population oversampling and type preferences relating to academic success, or the lack thereof, I had to do more digging.
Academic success in the first college semester is widely believed to affect the eventual success or graduation of the new college student. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® is not an identifier of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning styles but is beneficial for assessment of learning preferences and processes rather than the learning behaviors of most learning style inventories (Jensen, 2003). Jensen describes the MBTI® as the most comprehensive assessment of learning style assessments attributing to instrument norming, length of development time, and sixteen specific approaches to student learning. He asserts that as the MBTI is a personality type assessment, and type is generally static, it is more useful than learning style assessments for measuring student behavior or performance which may fluctuate, dependent upon the learning experience. As institution type and instructor type preferences can frequently differ from student type preferences, an understanding of type theory can assist educators and learners in goals of student success.
As students move toward campus integration they seek congruence and comfort in a campus culture. Type theory and the MBTI can be helpful in moving students toward this goal. Kalsbeek (1986, 2003) reported on the TRAILS tracking tool that aids university communities in reviewing MBTI data in comparison with available student data to provide a research base for retention strategies. Students at a medium-size private university were administered the MBTI and consented to having their scores merged with ACT/SAT scores and other entry and demographic data sources. Academic results, program of study and enrollment status of the students were tracked in subsequent semesters. The tracking research found ACT/SAT scores as the best predictor of academic performance in the first semester but also revealed that Myers-Briggs preferences for Introversion, Perception and Intuition were found to be statistically significant in their influence on first semester grades. Type data was also found to correlate with entering student profiles as to reasons for attending college, performance on college admission standardized tests and first-term academic achievement. Each of these correlations is helpful to campus retention efforts by explaining possible shifts in college entry data and academic success. As failure to find academic success is a major factor in student persistence, Kalsbeek (2003) emphasizes that the MBTI instrument is useful for academic success programs. It can be used to identify special challenges for students, as a method for responding to students in need of academic support, and for “facilitating a good educational fit between the learner and the instructor,” (p. 109).
Jensen, G. H. (2003). Learning styles. In J. A. Provost & S. Anchors (Eds.), Using the MBTI instrument in colleges and universities. Gainesville, FL: Center for Applications of Psychological Type.
Kalsbeek, D. H. (1986, June). Linking learning style theory with retention research: The TRAILS project. Paper presented at the Association for Institutional Research forum, Orlando FL.
Kalsbeek, D. H. (2003). Campus retention: The MBTI instrument in institutional self-studies. In J. A. Provost & S. Anchors (Eds.), Using the MBTI instrument in colleges and universities (pp. 87-122). Gainesville, FL: Center for Applications of Psychological Type.
I wonder what these averages would look like for Student Affairs?
I have frequently referenced a paper for a higher ed finance class this semester that was featured today in a Los Angeles Times article on the big picture of student debt.
The Institute for Higher Education Policy study of federal student loans, Delinquency: The Untold Story of Student Loan Borrowing, suggests that a majority of students struggle to repay their loans. As the cost of a higher education has increased exponentially over the last couple of decades, policymakers have relied solely on default rates as a measurement tool. An institution’s default rates can impact their ability to provide loan borrowing to students. This study suggests that default rates alone provide an incomplete analysis, as they exclude borrowers who have difficulty repaying their loans but who avoid default.
This study consists of a review of federal student loans only, not private lending. It focuses on the nearly 1.8 million borrowers who entered into repayment on loans obtained through the Federal Family Education Loan Program in 2005 during their first five years of repayment. It details the rates at which borrowers entered into default; into deferment, a temporary suspension of loan payments for re-enrollment in school, unemployment, or economic hardship; forbearance, temporary suspensions of a borrower’s payments because of financial difficulty; and delinquency, or late payment on a loan.
Overall, only 37 percent of the borrowers in the study managed to repay their student loans throughout the study period without postponing payments or becoming delinquent. Another seven percent entered into deferment because they re-enrolled in school. A majority, 56 percent of borrowers, had difficulty making timely payments on their loans.
Of the 56 percent with repayment difficulty, 15 percent of borrowers used deferment and forbearance to postpone their payments and avoid delinquency. Overall, 41 percent of the student loan borrowers became delinquent or defaulted. Twenty-six percent of borrowers became delinquent, but did not default. Approximately 15 percent of borrowers became delinquent and defaulted.
Delinquency and default have serious consequences for student loan borrowers and can affect credit scores and the ability to obtain mortgages and auto loans, and the terms upon which those loans are offered. Borrowers who default face even more severe consequences, including wage garnishment, withholding of income tax refunds or Social Security benefits, the turning over of the defaulted loans to collection agencies, and liability for collection and court costs.
There were important distinctions made between borrowers. Undergraduate and graduate borrowers who left school without graduating were far more likely to become delinquent or default than those who graduated. Graduate students were far more likely to make timely payments without using deferment or forbearance and less likely to become delinquent or to default than undergraduates. Students at public four-year and private, nonprofit four-year institutions were more likely to repay their loans on time without resorting to deferment or forbearance and less likely to default on loans. Students at public and for-profit two-year institutions and for-profit four-year institutions were the most likely to experience repayment difficulty.
I have been reading a lot on student debt recently, a topic that is of great interest for me as I counsel first-generation college students. My state and institution have among the highest debt rates in the country, not a statistic to celebrate.
Student Debt and the Class of 2009 is the fifth annual report from the Project on Student Debt. It includes cumulative loan debt of students from public and private nonprofit colleges and shows that the debt level of students who graduate with student loans continues to rise with averages from $13,000 to $61,500. Low debt states are typically in the West or Southern states. High student debt rates are concentrated in the Northeast with Iowa, Minnesota, and Alaska in the top tier as exceptions. Iowa is fourth in the nation for average debt of $28,883 and second in percentage of graduates with debt, at 74%.
A variety of factors contribute to varying debt levels including cost of tuition and fees and financial aid policies of the individual institution. Generally, higher tuition is found at private colleges, but some privates, such as Cal Tech and Princeton, are also the first to institute policies of no-loan or reduced-loan for low- and middle-income students. Student debt figures are not inclusive in that not all colleges reported figures for average debt and percent with debt. In actuality, the debt figures could be and are likely much higher.
Several issues influence the accurate collection of student debt data and are recommended for improving the scope this information. These include a lack of a comprehensive annuals source of data, data on private loans, and lack of reporting on repayment terms and debt-to-income ratios for graduates in repayment.
Student Debt and the Class of 2009 reports only federal loan data. When you consider that debt attributed to private and federal student loans has surpassed $884 billion dollars in the United States and contributes to the ballooning national debt, the effectiveness and equity of relying on student loans to finance the cost of a higher education becomes paramount to all. Lawmakers and institution officials must carefully consider the impact of their tuition decisions and educate the student population as to their debt responsibility.
In a seminar course required of students in my doctoral program, we spent a day on problem solving and creativity. Professor John Nash took us through an exercise that originated with the Stanford d.school where we used problem solving and then design thinking to create the perfect wallet for a student partner.
Our exercise included:
- Interviewing a partner to engage them and gather insights about wallet use
- Defining and articulating a point of view based on the interview insights
- Sketching new alternatives based on the point of view
- Testing ideas with our partner to gather feedback
- Acting on the feedback and building a wallet prototype from art supplies
This was a fun exercise that I think can be adapted for use with student leaders to encourage bigger picture thinking and processing. You can read more about the exercise and view a student interview at Nash’s blog.