Posts published in February, 2015
In an interview, the scholars talk about their new book urging policymakers and academia to rethink higher education.
BY BROOKE DONALD
The book challenges policymakers and others to consider a different model for higher education. Maybe college isn’t a four- to six-year endeavor to be done in your early 20s; perhaps it’s something you move in and out of your whole life. Maybe it doesn’t even take place on a campus but through a series of online courses. And maybe you don’t always get a degree but a certificate, proving excellence in a particular craft.
Scholars from a range of disciplines contributed the essays that examine the history, economics, philosophy and politics surrounding higher education. The book trains particular focus on broad-access institutions – community colleges, for-profit colleges and comprehensive public universities. The editors point out that these schools educate the most people and have the biggest challenges yet have been relatively neglected by scholars and the general media.
“But they’re also some of the most innovative places,” Stevens says, making them the perfect sites for rethinking what college should be.
Below are excerpts from an interview with Kirst and Stevens about the book, published by Stanford University Press. The project was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Why does college need reimagining?
Stevens: A golden era of higher education is over. That’s the period from the mid-1940s to about 1990, in which there was massive government investment in colleges coupled with almost complete institutional autonomy. That’s no longer the case. Since 1990 we’ve experienced overall decline in government subsidy and higher costs, yet a growing demand for a college education. Inherited models aren’t sustainable as they are, so it’s necessary to come up with a new ways of providing, measuring and experiencing higher education.
Kirst: Just look at the funding. In California, for example, we give community colleges less per pupil than we do to high schools. And we have the least funding and resources at the institutions with the most needy students. We’ve stressed the four-year residential model and underinvested in community colleges, which are doing the lion’s share of the work.
But the ideal “college experience” is the four-year model, correct?
Stevens: No. First, there’s the exorbitant cost of residential delivery. There are also tepid learning gains by any direct measure. For some young people, four-year campuses can be dangerous in terms of substance abuse, depression and feelings of alienation. Also, some teenagers just aren’t ready or able to commit to that because of money or family obligations. So the notion that the four-year residential model is the best way, the default way to experience college, is a problem. It’s important that Americans embrace a much wider diversity of college forms.
Kirst: There is a problem – both in policy and in people’s minds – with how college has been framed in the national conversation. We talk about needing to prepare everyone for college, but “college” currently is a loaded word that comes with implicit timelines and delivery expectations. What we want is a conversation about making quality higher education available in a wide variety of formats over the course of entire lives.
You say there is very little research on higher education outside of the four-year model. Explain.
Stevens: The majority of social science research of the last 50 years was built around an implicit expectation that it’s best to go to college right after high school, enroll full time unencumbered by paid work, and complete a bachelor’s diploma promptly. If that didn’t happen the analyst presumed some sort of failure—either of the student or the system. What we’re suggesting is that that is a profoundly limited way of thinking about how people best move through the time and space of school.
As scholars, we’ve often held community colleges to standards of four-year completion and judged them on that basis, but community colleges are not designed like four-year institutions and are not built to serve the same kinds of needs. So why do we measure them by the same yardstick? The research agenda needs to change.
Part of the ambition of this project is to put more of the research capacity available at schools like Stanford in the service of improving community colleges and other broad-access schools.
Policymakers, too, you argue, aren’t looking at colleges in a comprehensive way.
Kirst: That’s the point of Chapter 8 – why has so much attention and heavy-handed reform been aimed at K-12 while higher education has received such a lighter touch? The answer is that higher education enjoys much stronger public trust. The average citizen thinks K-12 schools are really in trouble. There’s not a public sense that the problems of colleges are as deep as the book points out they are. And relatively few policymakers have even attended a community college or know one of them well, so those institutions are often invisible to influential decision makers.Policymakers, too, you argue, aren’t looking at colleges in a comprehensive way.
How are broad-access institutions already being innovative and remaking higher education?
Stevens: They’re much savvier with technology, for one. They embraced the web as a legitimate vehicle for instructional delivery years before the elite research universities did. The for-profit sector, especially, was way ahead in this regard. They match the rhythm of adult lives. They have lots of evening course times. They offer easy parking. Those little things matter a lot to people with jobs and children and hectic schedules.
Kirst: They recognize, too, that increasingly employers aren’t just looking for degrees, they’re looking for what people can demonstrably do. These schools offer multiple forms of credentialing. And many people who go to community colleges or for-profit schools aren’t actually going for the degree. They may already have one. They’re going for additional skills. In the book we’re really making a plea for more public attention to these schools and recognition of the wide range of learning that can happen in them.
Locus of Authority: The Evolution of Faculty Roles in the Governance of Higher Education by William G. Bowen and Eugene M. Tobin
This book uses case studies of four institutions—the University of California, Princeton University, Macalester College, and the City University of New York—to argue that many issues facing today’s colleges and universities are exacerbated by an antiquated system of governance that must change. Bowen and Tobin highlight the role of faculty within the governance system and discuss if higher education institutions have what it takes to reform effectively.
By Jane Hurst with the assistance of Dr. Carlo Carandang
As a college student, you experience a number of stressors, such as living independently from your parents, keeping up with the rigors of your college courses compared to your high school courses, managing your time adequately, managing a budget, balancing your checkbook, figuring out what you want to do for the rest of your life, deciding on a major, worrying about getting a job after graduation, and managing your intimate relationships. When you are not able to cope with all these stressors, you begin to feel burnt-out (or stressed-out) and wonder if you will be able to continue with your studies in college. Eventually, if you do not handle these stressors adequately, you may go on to develop anxiety and/or depression. So having stress is part of college life…if you are resilient, then you will do just fine and may even benefit from all the stressors to push you to higher achievements. However, for those with maladaptive coping skills, the stressors can trigger you to develop anxiety and/or depression.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is characterized by worry, nervousness, or fear when you are exposed to a feared situation, person, or object. Anxiety disorders develop when you become fearful, worried, or nervous:
- out of proportion to the feared stimulus;
- in anticipation of being exposed to the feared stimulus; or
- when the feared stimulus is no longer present.
In addition, anxiety triggers the fight or flight response, which results in the release of adrenaline and is responsible for the physical symptoms of anxiety:
- muscle tension
- increased heart rate
- increased breathing
- butterflies in the stomach
- lump in the throat
There are 6 major anxiety disorders, and each has characteristic symptoms:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)– GAD is characterized by generalized worry about everyday events.
- Social phobia– It is also known as social anxiety disorder (SAD). SAD is characterized by fear of social scrutiny, or fear of being embarrassed when in front of people or when performing. Performance anxiety, such as stage fright, is a type of social phobia.
- Specific phobia– This is characterized by extreme fear of an object, person, or situation, such as fear of heights, flying, spiders, snakes, etc.
- Panic disorder– This is characterized by panic attacks, and you anticipate having the next panic attack.
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)– OCD is characterized by having recurrent, intrusive thoughts (obsessions) with compensatory actions/behaviors (compulsions) that decrease the anxiety associated with the obsessions.
- Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)– PTSD occurs after a life-threatening trauma, and it is characterized by re-experiencing the traumatic event through flashbacks and nightmares. In addition, you have hypervigilance and you are on guard all the time for any further danger in the environment. Finally, you try to avoid any reminders of the traumatic event.
What is Depression?
Depression is characterized by:
- low moods
- loss of pleasure in things
- sleep disturbance
- feelings of guilt or hopelessness
- low energy level
- poor concentration
- poor appetite
- being slowed down or revved up
- suicidal ideations
When triggered by stressors, a depressive disorder can develop, known as major depressive disorder (MDD). MDD, like anxiety disorders, will cause significant impairment to your functioning in college and your relationships. Additionally, MDD and anxiety disorders can co-exist at the same time.
Treating Anxiety and Depression
Fortunately, there are effective treatments for anxiety and depression. The treatments for anxiety and depression are similar:
- Psychotherapy– First line treatment for anxiety and depression is psychotherapy, or talk therapy. The most studied form of psychotherapy shown to be effective for anxiety and depression is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT works on the premise that your thoughts about a situation cause you to be anxious or depressed, and it is not the situation that makes you sad or anxious. Also, your anxiety or depression can be made worse by your avoidant behaviors. CBT helps you to become less anxious and depressed by changing to more adaptive ways of thinking about a situation, and by addressing the avoidant and safety behaviors.
- Medication– Prescription medication treatment is last resort treatment for anxiety and depression. Prescription medication should only be prescribed when you do not response to CBT, or if you have a severe case of anxiety or depression. Contrary to what the drug companies advertise, their products should only be used as a last resort- when more benign and conservative treatments have been tried first.
- Self-help– You can also help yourself to get over anxiety and depression. There are many things you can do, including yoga, exercise, reading AnxietyBoss by Dr. Carlo Carandang, following a balanced diet, and getting plenty of sleep. You should also avoid too much caffeine and alcohol. Identify your stressors, and keep track of them by writing things down in a journal. Join a club or find a hobby to take your mind of things, and finally, find someone to talk to.
The article was written by Jane Hurst and revised by Dr. Carlo Carandang, MD, an anxiety expert. Dr. Carandang is a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, and he has a medical license from Washington State.
Michael J. Petrilli, Fordham Foundation
Almost every article and column written about the nascent GOP presidential campaign mentions Tea Party opposition to immigration reform and the Common Core—and most candidates’ efforts to align themselves with the Republican base on these two issues. (A Google News search turns up more than 11,000 hits for “Common Core” and “immigration” and “Republican.”)
When it comes to immigration reform, it’s easy to understand what the hard-right candidates oppose: any form of amnesty for people who entered the country illegally.
But what does it mean when Ted Cruz, or Rand Paul, or Bobby Jindal says he “opposes” the Common Core? Reporters* might ask them:
- Do you mean that you oppose the Common Core standards themselves? All of them? Even the ones related to addition and subtraction? Phonics? Studying the nation’s founding documents? Or just some of them? Which ones, in particular, do you oppose? Have you actually read the standards?
- Or do you mean that you oppose the role that the federal government played in coercing states to adopt the Common Core? Fair enough, but don’t you share that exact same position with every Republican in Congress and every other Republican running for president, including Jeb Bush?
- Do you mean that you think states should drop out of the Common Core? States like Iowa? Isn’t that a bit presumptive, considering that you’re not from Iowa and the state’s Republican governor wants Common Core to stay?
- If you do think that states should reject the Common Core, which standards should replace them? Do they need to be entirely different, or just a little bit different? And could you cite a specific example of a standard that needs to be “different?”
- Or do you mean that you oppose the way Common Core has been implemented? If so, everywhere, or just in some states? Or just in some schools? You are running for president; do you think the president of the United States has a role in fixing Common Core implementation?
- Do you mean you oppose any standards in education that cross state lines? Several years ago, the governors came to an agreement about a common way to measure high school graduation rates. Do you oppose that, too?
- Or do you mean that you oppose any standards, even those set at the state level? Since states have the constitutional responsibility to provide a sound education, don’t you think they should be clear about what they expect students to know and be able to do in the basic subjects?
- Or do you mean that you oppose standards that aim to get young people ready for college or a good-paying career? Do you think that’s too high a standard? What standard would you prefer?
- Tell us again: Why do you oppose the Common Core?
* These are good questions to ask Republican senators, too, who will almost surely rail against the Common Core when the Elementary and Secondary Education act comes to the Senate floor later this year.
By: Jane Hurst
With so many different types of part-time jobs available, you don’t have to be the stereotypical starving college student. In fact, you can make pretty good money, have the flexibility to attend classes, study, and still have a social life.
Here are some of the top picks for part-time jobs for college students.
- Resident Assistant – If you live in the dorm, you may want to consider becoming a resident assistant (RA). You not only get a wage, but you also can get great discounts on your own room and board (or even get it for free). You get to work from “home”, and you will likely make a lot of good friends.
- Waiter/Waitress – You can actually make a pretty decent living as a waiter or waitress, even if you are only working part-time. There is also a lot of flexibility. For instance, if you have morning and afternoon classes, you can work at a dinner restaurant or a bar. Not only will you make a salary, you will also get some pretty good tips.
- Paid Internships – A great way to earn extra money, and learn more about your chosen career, is to get into a paid internship. You won’t have to work full-time, because employers realize that you are pursuing your education. But, you will earn money, and get valuable on the job training.
- Babysitter – Taking care of kids is a great way to earn extra cash in your spare time. You can also get extra study time with this type of job, because you are on your own once the kids go to bed at night.
- Start Your Own Cleaning Business – Starting a cleaning business can be a profitable, fun and flexible opportunity when you’re at college, because the start-up costs are low & the hours are flexible for students.
- Independent Sales Consultant – There are loads of companies who are looking for independent sales reps. For instance, you could sell Avon, or maybe Scentsy candles. Or, you could sell adult products through Fantasia parties. There are many opportunities here. You just have to pick one and start selling.
- Dog/House Sitter – People will pay well for trustworthy people to care for their homes and pets while they are away. In fact, you could earn upwards of $100 per day. Make up some flyers and put them in mailboxes, on cars, on bulletin boards, etc. Don’t forget to advertise through social media as well. Always be careful when working in someone’s home, and find out their background before going for your own safety.
- Retail – Go to your nearest mall, and you are likely to find many stores that are looking for part-time help. You can often get jobs that allow you to work evenings and weekends, so you still have plenty of time to attend classes.
- Tutor – There are many different ways that you can tutor others. You can tutor other college students who are taking courses you have already taken. Or, you can tutor online, or offer your services to high school or younger students who need extra help with their studies.
- Freelancer – This is a great way to make money without ever having to leave your dorm or apartment. You also get to set your own hours. As long as you have a computer, there is bound to be some sort of freelance work you can do. If you love to write, there are thousands of clients looking for article writers. If you are good at IT, there are freelance positions available. Go online and start searching today.
Byline:Jane Hurst has been working in education for over 5 years as a teacher. She loves sharing her knowledge with students, is fascinated about edtech and loves reading, a lot.
Quality assurance in other sectors: Lessons for higher education reform
Kevin J. James, American Enterprise Institute
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- Higher education policymakers should look to learn from efforts to ensure quality, accountability, and consumer protection in other sectors.
- Higher ed can learn about transparency efforts from health care, about outcome measurement and accountability from workforce development, about deregulation and delegated oversight from charter schools, and about imposing greater risk sharing from housing finance.
- By broadening its focus, higher education policymakers and researchers can improve higher education and ensure that we do not repeat some of the same mistakes that have plagued promising reform efforts in other sectors.
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The National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP) applauds President Obama’s recent announcement of a federal Pell grant experiment for dual enrollment. Across the country, 1.4 million students participate in dual and concurrent enrollment, which enables high school students to enroll in college courses. However, Pell grants—the most important source of federal financial aid for low-income students aspiring to a college education—are not available to students who are still in high school. This experiment will help identify new approaches to enrolling more low-income students in early college and other dual enrollment programs. Dual enrollment and early college models have been proven to significantly increase low-income students’ chances of college success, providing an effective pathway to college completion.
At a time when postsecondary education is critical to the economy, but only 9 percent of those born in the lowest family income quartile attain a bachelor’s degree by age 25 (compared to 54 percent in the top quartile), we need to dramatically increase the numbers of low income students gaining early exposure to college through dual enrollment.
“We are pleased that there is growing recognition in Washington of the importance of financial support for low-income student participation in dual enrollment,” said Adam Lowe, Executive Director of NACEP. With ever increasing numbers of students participating in dual and concurrent enrollment, these experiments would yield valuable information about the intricacies of extending federal financial aid to students simultaneously enrolled in high school.”
NACEP and partner organizations are working to expand dual and concurrent enrollment options and early college high schools, including Bard College, EDWorks, Jobs for the Future, KnowledgeWorks, Middle College National Consortium, and the Ohio Early College Association. These partners have worked closely with over 10,400 dual and concurrent enrollment programs, early college high schools, and their postsecondary partners across the country, with many more currently in development across the nation.
“We and our partners strongly believe that the proposed experimental site has the potential to bring to bear smart and effective uses of Pell for dual enrollment that will result in persistence through college and credential completion for low-income students. We stand ready to work collaboratively with the Administration to ensure an effective and informative dual enrollment experimental site,” said Joel Vargas, Vice President at Jobs for the Future, a nonprofit working to improve the pathways leading from high school to college to family-supporting careers
The landscape of competency-based education: Enrollments, demographics, and affordability
- Competency-based education (CBE), in which credit is provided on the basis of student learning rather than credit or clock hours, is starting to gain traction with educators and policymakers.
- CBE programs are often touted as a far more affordable route to college credit and a degree, but these claims often fail to account for assessment fees, differences in financial aid eligibility, and opportunity costs of time.
- Many questions about CBE remain to be answered before its wide adoption, including which students and degree programs are best suited for CBE, overall cost of CBE compared to more traditional programs, and how to lower out-of-pocket costs for students.
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