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?

National Student Exchange: Your place to BE

240419_10150176805338101_8019007_oThis will be an excellent opportunity to really get to know myself, network and make new friends — and prove to myself that I can succeed in any environment.                                                                                                  ~ William Rabe, ISU sophomore
Next fall, an Iowa State University student will experience a National Student Exchange (NSE) to the University of Alabama — just like his father did 31 years ago as a college student in North Dakota.
It was a fateful trip for William Rabe’s father, William Rabe III, who is a pediatrician.
“He met my mother there in an organic chemistry lab,” said Rabe, a sophomore in chemical engineering and biochemistry from Ramsey, Minn. Read more.
NSE provides students with a domestic alternative to study abroad. Nearly 200 universities participate, placing 3,000 students each year. NSE offers low-cost options for students to study out of state, at culturally diverse campuses, and with program compatibility to their home campus. Credits are applied toward a student’s degree.
As the Iowa State NSE Coordinator since 1997, I love sharing the NSE story. Is your campus a member of National Student Exchange? They should BE!

 

The Rise of the College Graduate

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In case there is still debate over the value of a college degree, the Pew Research Center is trying to put the argument to rest, once and for all, with a new report The Rising Cost of Not Going to College. Most convincing is the finding that when compared with previous generations, there is even more income disparity between college graduates and those with a high school diploma.
For those who question the value of college in this era of soaring student debt and high unemployment, the attitudes and experiences of today’s young adults—members of the so-called Millennial generation—provide a compelling answer. On virtually every measure of economic well-being and career attainment—from personal earnings to job satisfaction to the share employed full time—young college graduates are outperforming their peers with less education.    ~Pew Research Center

Digitally Enhanced

Popular wisdom holds that your vita and resume should always be ready for the next big opportunity. What special achievements would be featured on your digital resume?
Resume infographic Miquel Rojas Cherto 2014

Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

The Great Debate continues…

The president of Georgia Regents University renewed discussion on the value of a college education with his recent essay, The Great Debate: Is College Still Worth It?  The piece included poll results from a new survey by the American Association of State College and Universities stating that those with a college education and those more likely to benefit from higher education believe in its worth. So, college graduates, women, and communities of color have buy in to the value of education.
…to ensure our collective future success, more Americans must appreciate the value of, have access to, be able to afford, and complete college. This message must be disseminated widely, so we can rally the will and resources necessary to make it happen.  ~Dr. Ricardo Azziz
More on the Value of Higher Education:
Why College is Still Worth It
Choose Education
Education Value
Future Earnings

Creating Conditions for Good Company

Schwinn-Tango-Tandem-Unisex-Bicycle_20090621496

My opportunity to teach a graduate course in Student Development Theory has been incredibly rewarding. I have enjoyed exploring Erickson, Chickering, Baxter Magolda, and the other tenets of our work with an enthusiastic group of up and coming student affairs professionals. We will wrap up the semester with an intensive look at the journey of self-authorship. The student affairs role in this journey, of becoming good company in the transformation of our students, defines my own practice.
Peggy Meszaros shares this excerpt describing her Learning Partnerships Model:
It is important to have a good understanding of the model, and I offer a simple metaphor to help in visualizing it. To fully understand the Learning Partnerships Model [and the student affairs role in self-authorship], think about a journey you may be planning. You will need some form of transportation, a road map with signs along the way to guide your journey, and a final destination. Now visualize your mentoring transportation as a tandem bicycle. There is a rider on the front, the student, who decides the direction and is in charge of making decisions. The rider on the back is you, the teacher or student affairs professional, who stokes the bike, providing challenge and support for the student on the front. You provide the elements of challenge and support in your teaching and (you might picture them as the saddlebags for the journey). Keeping challenge and support in balance as the student heads in the direction of self-authorship is part of your role and a key element of the model. The guideposts are found as students move from absolute knowing, the first marker; through transitional or independent knowing, the second marker; to contextual knowing, the final destination.
How do you provide good company?

. . . . .

Meszaros, P. (2007). The journey of self-authorship: Why is it necessary? New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 109, p. 5-14. doi: 10.1002/tl.261

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.

What is your 5-year plan?

Screen Shot 2013-10-27 at 6.19.17 PMHappy 5th Anniversary to the eighteen and life blog! Thank you for popping in now and again to see what is on my mind and for offering words of encouragement. As I think back over the last half decade, I smile to think of the new friends in my life and the completion of major projects.

For your reading pleasure, I have gathered a few articles that you may have missed over the last week.

University of Kentucky using student data analytics to improve retention rates.

SMU created this video on why to consider a grad program in higher ed. 

Interesting piece on class-sourcing as a teaching strategy.

A study showing that college faculty are increasingly using social media.

Brutalist architecture style on college campuses.

Twitter becoming more popular with teenagers.

PS. Also, wishing Happy 1/2 Birthday to my dear daughter!

If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it.

When your work, team project, lit review, budget forecast, program planning or <insert other> is getting you down…
Remember.
It’s supposed to be hard.
If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it.
The hard is what makes it great.