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.
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.
Some days it’s the little things. Like discovering that you packed extra underwear when weather delays your travel leaving you stranded far from home. Or when you get an email out of the blue from a student you have not heard from in a while.
I’m writing to thank you and the Hixson program for all that you have given me. Not just the class, the opportunity to be a seminar leader or the scholarship money, but also the staff. Yesterday, I was in the student lab doing a little homework when your graduate assistant came in and I had a really great talk with him, just about how our semesters were going. Anyway, it makes me really appreciate the program and especially the people surrounding the program.