Dear College Girl

weebabeTomorrow, you, my first born, my daughter, begin college. Coincidentally, the date coincides with the anniversary of my first day of employment at the same campus—22 years ago. Kids were not even in my vernacular then, while learning to navigate work at a giant research university. Whereas I was well into a career in higher education and on my third campus by that time, you are an amateur. A freshman. Have I taught you everything you need to know?

Life skill lists for college students focus on separating laundry and being able to change a tire. I am glad that you are getting the hang of laundry after begging for that help for years. It is exciting that you have figured out how to use the washing machine, if not the frequency. Do you want to learn how to change a tire? Your grandpa made me practice before leaving home. But as you do not drive, relying on your bicycle, public transportation and the kindness of friends, just remember to look both ways before crossing the street. Budgeting has been a little harder, but you have seen that bank accounts are not infinite. You are smart to take advantage of haircuts and shopping while with me!

We bridged the moving away from home event several weeks ago as you moved into off campus digs and began setting up a home. It was miserable, for ME, but you enjoyed your new-found freedom from curfews and assigned chores. Your new place is coming along nicely (do the dishes!) In hindsight, this early fleeing of the nest was good for both of us allowing new routines to be established. Less crying now, again from ME.

Sweetie, you are brilliant and ready to take on the world, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Trust me. After nearly 30 years working with college students and 18 years of being your mom, I know these things. But just a few more words of wisdom to share…

  1. Go to bed early. At least sometimes.
  2. Set two alarms (I know you like to sleep in).
  3. Greet the day with a smile, it has much to bring you.
  4. Being on time means arriving early.
  5. Take lots of notes in every class.
  6. Rewrite your notes after class and add text readings.
  7. Make lists, there is a lot to remember.
  8. Do you have an umbrella?
  9. Address your instructor as professor, it covers many titles.
  10. Drink lots of water, less caffeine.

And finally, do you remember the words of advice that I shared every day you were in elementary school? They are still important.

  • Be a good friend.
  • Listen to your teachers (er, professors).
  • Listen more than you talk, there is much to learn.
  • Always do your best.

Love,

Mom

PS. Text me a first day of college selfie!

 

 

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Laws of Physics and College Transition

tiltawhirl

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.

This post first appeared on eighteen and life on August 23, 2010.

Type, Worldview and Academic Success

Dilbert January 25, 2000

Dilbert January 25, 2000

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.

More Type Links in Student Success

I’ve got a problem. There are aspects of my personality that I can’t control. ~Bruce Banner

Much as student development theory helps us to understand differences in students served in higher education, understanding differences of psychological type in students may also enhance student success. The assessment of psychological type is based upon Carl Jung’s theory that human behavior is not random and that patterns of mental functions exist in the population. Following this conceptual foundation, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, MBTI™, has become the most widely used instrument for determining type preferences in business, personal coaching and on college campuses. It was developed by the mother-daughter team of Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers with the foundations of orientation and organization to the outer world as a framework to guide individuals through the constructive use of differences. The MBTI instrument asks a series of self-report forced-choice questions to define individual preference opposites for personal energy, taking in information, making decisions, and organizing one’s world. Based upon responses to these questions, an individual is assigned a type preference for each pair of opposites which when combined; create sixteen individual four-letter type codes.

There are four MBTI type dichotomies or opposite preferences and each has a different influence on learning. The word preference is used to refer to the innate tendency one has in each of the psychological dichotomies. The principle of preference is frequently illustrated in type facilitations by asking participants to write their signature with their non-dominant hand. Generally, participants will describe this exercise as awkward, uncomfortable or not a preferred activity, but one they are able to complete.  Each individual has a preference for daily functions, but is able to operate out of preference, as needed. The preference pairs include where a person gets their energy, categorized as Extraversion and Introversion; how an individual takes in information or Sensing and Intuiting; the decision-making process of Thinking and Feeling; and the orientation to and organization in the outer world of Judging and Perceiving. Individuals use each aspect of the personality pairs daily, but have a preference for one that is more comfortable or useful to the self.

Extraversion and Introversion. Extraversion and Introversion are expressions of where an individual gathers personal energy. Extraversion (E) is the energy that develops from engaging with people, objects and events. Externally expressing interests and interacting with others is invigorating for extraverts.  They learn best in situations that include movement, action and conversation and prefer to connect theories and facts with personal experience. Introversion (I) is a reflective, inward coordination with thoughts and ideas.  Introverts look internally for thoughts and energy. They think best in solitude and prefer advance notice before sharing or acting in a learning situation.

Sensing and Intuition. Sensing and Intuition are the functions for absorbing information. The Sensing (S) perception is the process of awareness and accumulating information through the physical senses. Sensing is a pragmatic function relying on details, sequenced lists, and consistency. Sensors learn best with sequential learning from concrete to abstract and tend to excel at memorization. The Intuitive (N) perception is future oriented and uses hunches and sees possibilities to provide explanations. Intuitive preference persons value patterns and abstract ideas and learn through imaginative tasks and theoretical topics with ease.

Thinking and Feeling. Thinking and Feeling are the decision-making or judgment processes of type. Thinking (T) is the objective decision-making process using standards and criteria to analyze information or situations to improve situations or performance. Thinking preference individuals are motivated in learning by logic and respect for their competence. The Feeling (F) decision-making preference is subjective and based upon personal values for accommodating harmony and the improvement of personal conditions for others. Individuals with Feeling preference are motivated in learning by personal encouragement, values and the human dimension of a topic or lesson.

Judging and Perceiving. Judging (J) is the process of engaging with the outer world preferring organization, structure, and a planned life. Those preferring Judgment tend to experience time in specific segments. They are driven to seek closure or finish tasks in those specific time periods. Judging preference learning thrives on task completion, structured learning and specific goals. The Perceiving (P) preference values autonomy, flexibility and spontaneity. They experience time as an uninterrupted flow and are open to new information as they experience and process. They prefer open learning environments that rely less on deadlines and structure.

Psychological type assessment can been helpful in allowing detection of interpersonal roadblocks and miscommunication related to type preferences, particularly for students in the transition from high school to college. Through intentional examination of type and how it relates to learning preferences, opportunities emerge for enabling students to understand more about themselves in this transition. Although the MBTI is not designed to be a predictor, examining type preference anomalies to enhance student services and resources may lead to increased student success and retention.

What is your type? Do you use the MBTI in your student success initiatives?

Success tips for First-Year Students

Contributing writer Erin Leitner with the News Record of the University of Cincinnati came up with 7 Tips for First-year Students to Succeed.  She included wisdom on not stressing over choosing a major.

Don’t stress about picking a major your first year or two. Just because some people know exactly what they want to do from the start doesn’t mean you have to narrow your frame of mind, too.

In your first year or so, take your time and search for your niche. My advice is take classes that you think you may like or think you are good at. If you find that you enjoy them and do well in them naturally then you may be on to something.

Also, try to ask people you admire about their careers and emulate their advice into your life. Don’t limit yourself to just local acquaintances or professors, but don’t ignore them either. Try to contact those unreachable-possible-celebrities whose work might inspire you. They may not answer you, but if they do you will have some golden inspiration.

You could also try to reach the people who directly surround your idol. They are likely the backbone of the individual you are seeking advice from and are usually equally talented and knowledgeable about the career path you are exploring.

I recall switching my undergraduate major during the first and second college year, staying within the same academic department, but choosing a different direction. With the exception of pre-professional programs in architecture and perhaps engineering on my campus, students have the flexibility to give courses a test-drive before committing to a program of study. I counsel students and families that not every 18-year old is ready to declare what they will be doing for the next forty years. Being undecided about a major is not a negative, it’s the active process of making a decision.

Laws of Physics and College Transition


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 new students to campus as we begin the fall semester; colleges across the country are welcoming thousands more over the next few weeks. 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 save a student.


Tornado Watch: Assessments for Student Retention

As a resident of tornado alley, there is a summer tradition of dusting off the Twister DVD while scanning the afternoon skies for possible wall clouds. The film takes place in Oklahoma, but was filmed near my current home in central Iowa. The story follows a team of meteorological students and scientists as they attempt to place weather sensors in the path of a tornado to measure readings inside of the storm. After many failed attempts, injuries, and even fatalities, our protagonists successfully launch the sensors and save humanity. Err, save their research. As the flick can also be caught at least three times a week on cable during the summer, I catch up on all of my favorite lines.

Jo: [cow flies by in the storm) Cow.
[cow flies by in the storm]
Jo: ‘Nother cow.
Bill: Actually, I think it was the same one.
Watching the segment as the sensors rise into the F-5 tornado and begin generating data, I am reminded of our students, particularly those in the first-year. If we could read their minds and extrapolate the whirlwind of thoughts and emotions, surely we could develop better methods for student success and retention. Fortunately, there are a variety of assessments to assist in this process.

The College Student Inventory™ (CSI) from Noel-Levitz allows students to answer questions regarding their strengths and challenges before they even arrive on campus. I ask my incoming students to complete this assessment after summer orientation and use the information to frame our beginning of the year 1:1 appointments. The student and advisor reports are handy for discussion and the group summary reports provide great information for planning our first-year seminar course and programming topics.

MAP-Works® offers a similar tool to discover student transition issues early in the semester. Students develop a personal profile based on their initial campus experience that is measured for potential barriers to success. A web-based report is generated immediately for students and faculty or staff advisors that compares with all first-year students on our campus. Campus resource services are suggested where needed.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) helps demonstrate theory that there are distinct patterns to individual psychological types even though persons exhibit these patterns in different ways. Helping students to understand their type preferences and how they affect personal learning styles provides a common ground for understanding differences and the transition to college. I provide an MBTI learning styles assessment for each student in our first-year seminar each fall. Students do not always grasp the type concept, but do find meaning from discussion of the transition to university style learning.

It is common knowledge among student affairs practitioners that students enter the college or university with varying degrees of emotional intelligence. Additionally, those familiar with retention issues will cite non-academic challenges as the frequent impetus for student attrition. Assessing emotional intelligence using the EQ-i® allows students to see potential areas for growth that may enhance adaptation and coping skills leading to academic achievement. I find the EQ-i particularly helpful for students seeking direction in their academic or life plan.

While no assessment tool can foresee every difficulty faced by our students on the path to graduation, I have found these tools to be helpful for communication, planning, and advising. Not a certified MBTI or EQ-i user? Check with your human resources office for recommendations.

Have you tried these assessments? Other tools you suggest?

Enjoyed Twister and need a good summer read? Check out The Stormchasers.