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Much of the attention around rising college costs and loan debt has focused on students who never earn a credential, with conventional wisdom holding that they wasted time and money in the process.
But a new study found that attending college typically isn’t a waste of time, even for students who fail to graduate.
The research found “very substantial increases in employability and income” for this group of former students, who attended community college or a four-year institution, said Paul Attewell, a professor of sociology at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center, who co-wrote the paper with Matt Giani, a research scientist at the University of Texas at Austin’s Office of Strategy and Policy, and David Walling, a software developer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center at UT.
These benefits extend across various student groups. But the paper said low-income students, women and students of color generally experienced the biggest labor-market bump from college attendance.
Previous studies have been mixed on the payoff for students who hold some college credits but no credential.
Several reached conclusions like this one from a prominent 2017 paper: “Many students leave school without any certificate of degree. They have lost valuable time and frequently have student debt to repay, but they have not managed to measurably improve their prospects.”
The most likely explanation for the ambiguity in previous research, according to the new paper, is the broad range of samples, data sets and methods those studies used.
The new research, however, was based on a statewide cohort of 207,332 students who graduated high school in Texas in 2000. The data allowed researchers to compare college completers and noncompleters, to control for selection bias, and to use unemployment insurance information to examine labor market outcomes for the group 15 years after they completed high school. The Journal of Higher Education published the study.
“The Texas data set is huge. It’s like using a different microscope,” Attewell said, adding that the growing numbers of solid data sets featuring labor-market returns from Texas and other states “are really revolutionizing our understanding of the place of college in the long-term economic prospects of students.”
‘A Stepping-Stone and a Signal’
The study found that students who attended college but did not earn a degree -- including those who earned certificates -- were much more likely to be employed than were members of the cohort who did not go to college. And if they were employed, they tended to have higher earnings (see graphic).
For students who attended college but did not earn a credential, the likelihood of employment increases with greater numbers of college credits earned. (However, students who earned 12 or fewer credits had slightly higher wages than those who earned more credits.)
“Students who do not go beyond high school are considerably less likely to be employed 15 years later than their ‘some college’ counterparts, even after controlling for their academic preparation and socio-demographic characteristics,” the study found.
The one-to-12-credits-earned group, for example, had mean annual earnings of $43,732 compared to $37,675 for people with no college credits. Just over half were employed in this group, while 35 percent of those without college credits were employed.
Not surprisingly, college graduates did even better. For example, people who held a bachelor's degree (arts or science) had a median wage of $64,727, according to the study, with 65 percent being employed.
“What’s most desirable is that people who go to college earn a credential,” Attewell said.
But even a small number of credits appears to have a positive impact on employability and wages, according to the study. “It’s a stepping-stone and a signal,” he said.
Attewell speculated that employers are considering both job applicants who didn’t go beyond high school and those with some college credits, and they seem to prefer the some-college group.
A growing number of colleges and reformers in higher education are calling for the addition of credentials that can serve as “momentum points” for students on their way to earning a degree. This could be a short-term certificate or an associate degree that students earn halfway to a bachelor’s.
Such an approach can have psychological benefits for students, Attewell said, encouraging them to continue in their academic programs.
Likewise, students who work while they attend college tend to do better in the labor market, he said. That’s the majority of students, with roughly 60 percent holding a job while they’re enrolled.
“They’re not doing this in order,” said Attewell, meaning go to college then find a job. “They’re doing this simultaneously.”
The study was not able to estimate whether the benefits of college attendance were driven by the knowledge and skills students acquired when enrolled or by the signaling effect of having some college on their résumé. But the economic benefits were clear, either way.
“Our results imply that excluding students from higher education might do greater harm than benefit to both students and society, even if admitted students are not very likely to graduate,” the study concluded. “Similarly, our results oppose the notion that college noncompleters have simply wasted their time and resources, as well as the resources of the public sector.”Editorial Tags: Graduation ratesCommunity collegesImage Source: Istockphoto.com/fizkesIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box:
Accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, who died in federal custody this month, allegedly took a predatory interest in teenage girls. But his involvement with thought leaders -- and academics, in particular -- was apparently more symbiotic: Epstein got to feed his ego and maybe even launder his character by chatting up great minds. And those great minds, or at least their institutions, got his money. Harvard University, in particular, got millions.
Some of those who associated with Epstein have publicly expressed regret about it since Epstein's case came under new renewed scrutiny this year. Science writer Carl Zimmer, for example, said recently that he asked the Epstein-funded thought salon Edge to remove him from its website (Edge also scrubbed the site of references to Epstein). Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker -- who also is affiliated with Edge -- explained why he interpreted the wording of a law for Epstein’s defense team in 2007, when he was first charged with sex crimes. And Harvard geneticist George Church, who continued to meet with Epstein even after his 2008 conviction, attributed the mistake to “nerd tunnel vision.”
But beyond words, there’s been little action regarding Epstein’s entanglement with academe -- until this week. That’s when two faculty members at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s esteemed Media Lab said they would step down from their positions over the lab’s ties to Epstein.
In a public post on Medium, Ethan Zuckerman, an associate professor of the practice, said he'd recently learned that the lab’s director, Joi Ito, had had a business relationship with Epstein and that Epstein invested in companies Ito personally supported. There were also "gifts and visits by Epstein to the Media Lab and by Joi to Epstein’s properties," Zuckerman said. And so, as "the scale of Joi’s involvement with Epstein became clear to me, I began to understand that I had to end my relationship with the MIT Media Lab."
His logic, he said, "was simple: the work my group does focuses on social justice and on the inclusion of marginalized individuals and points of view." And it's "hard to do that work with a straight face in a place that violated its own values so clearly in working with Epstein and in disguising that relationship."
Zuckerman plans to leave the lab -- or maybe even MIT altogether -- by the end of the coming academic year.
Zuckerman declined an interview request Wednesday, saying that he did not intend to go public with his resignation. He'd only done so when The Globe obtained a letter he wrote to past recipients of the lab’s Disobedience Award for rabble-rousers. Last year, those recipients were Me Too leaders.
“I am ashamed of my institution today and starting the hard work of figuring out how to leave the lab while taking care of my students and staff,” he said in the letter, according to the Globe.
Ito did not respond to a request for comment. He apologized in an open letter last week on the Media Lab website, promising to raise as much money as Epstein gave to the lab and donate it to victims of sex trafficking.
In "all of my interactions with Epstein, I was never involved in, never heard him talk about, and never saw any evidence of the horrific acts that he was accused of," Ito wrote. "That said, I take full responsibility for my error in judgment. I am deeply sorry to the survivors, to the Media Lab and to the MIT community for bringing such a person into our network."
Matias said in his own Medium post that he’d heard last week for the first time about Joi's business relationship with Epstein and the ties between Epstein and the MIT Media Lab. He also said he'd learned about a deposition that names Media Lab co-founder Marvin Minsky in relation to further crimes. Specifically, one of Epstein's accusers said in 2016 that Epstein forced her to have sex with Minsky, who died later that year.
Describing his work as "protecting women and other vulnerable people online from abuse and harassment," Matias said he can't do that with integrity from a "place with the kind of relationship that the Media Lab has had with Epstein. It’s that simple.”
MIT has not disclosed how much Epstein donated. It told The Globe that an orb-shaped trophy the Media Lab gave to Epstein and other donors in 2017 was not a Disobedience Award, even though it looked similar to the orbs the Me Too activists received last year.
Siva Vaidhyanathan, Robertson Professor in Media Studies at the University of Virginia, said via email that colleges and universities -- especially private ones -- have “become too reliant on the whims of millionaires and billionaires. Too often they set our agendas. Too often we pander to their interests and idiosyncrasies. And too often millionaires and billionaires are terrible people.”
Vaidhyanathan said that Zuckerman is a “moral person,” but that shouldn’t “make him special." Sadly, he said, "it does.”
In a “fairer world,” Zuckerman would lead labs like the one he’s leaving, Vaidhyanathan continued. And if he did, the Media Lab “would never have suffered this embarrassment.” So moral standing in leadership appointments matters, he said, as does appointing women to “high-profile units” such as the Media Lab.
More generally, Vaidhyanathan said that every college and university should audit its donors -- and include “morals clauses” in gift agreements. Donors, should, for example, agree to give up building and program naming rights if they’re credibly accused, charged or convicted of “some moral malfeasance,” like sexual harassment or racism.
Jessica Cantlon, Ronald J. and Mary Ann Zdrojkowski Professor of Developmental Neuroscience at Carnegie Mellon University, was involved in the sexual misconduct case against her former colleague at the University of Rochester T. Florian Jaeger. Jaeger was found by an independent investigation not to have harassed students and co-workers but rather exercised poor judgment in a number of instances. Many on campus disagreed with that conclusion.
At Rochester, Cantlon said, she observed the “difference between men of conscience and others who would toe the company line at a moral cost.” Several of her male former colleagues stood up for women to support their sexual harassment complaints, faced retaliation and ultimately resigned their jobs, she said. In other words, they “took risks and suffered costs to help make things right for women students and faculty.”
Similarly, at MIT and Harvard, Cantlon said, some “men like Zuckerman refused to meet with Epstein even in 2014 because Epstein is a sex offender who preys on girls and women.” And Harvard and MIT, like all universities, are “supposed to be nourishing to young people,” she said.
Other male academics, meanwhile, have accepted rides on Epstein's private plane, performed science for him, attended his events, helped with his legal defense and more.
Why the divide? Cantlon said that some academic "men get confused about whether their job is to enrich and educate people,” or whether it’s to “amass money, power and create an empire out of their expertise.”
Men who “bowed to Epstein's power and money" despite knowing who he was pay a price, she said. But that price is really a “debt they pass on to young people who will be hurt by the misogynistic culture they enabled.”FacultyEditorial Tags: FacultySexual assaultImage Caption: Ethan ZuckermanIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: College: Harvard UniversityMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyDisplay Promo Box:
College campuses have grappled with extraordinary free speech challenges in the last several years. Students have shouted down speakers whose views they disagree with or find offensive, and outsiders have demanded the students be punished. White supremacists have increased their presence on campuses both to speak and to spread their literature. P. E. Moskowitz, formerly a staff writer with Al Jazeera America, has documented many of those cases in their new book, The Case Against Free Speech: The First Amendment, Fascism and the Future of Dissent (Hachette Book Group). Moskowitz discusses how they believe conservatives have abused the concept of free speech and walks through the forces behind the 2017 riots in Charlottesville, Va., and elsewhere.
Moskowitz answered some questions about their book via email.
Q: What do you anticipate the biggest battles related to free speech will be on college campuses?
A: I think, thankfully, we've kind of seen beyond the ruse of free speech fights on college campuses and begun to recognize there are deeper issues at play. For years, there were dozens of op-eds, think pieces and some reported pieces framing college students as rabble-rousers who just wanted to shut people down. Now we're starting to see that these students aren't after a purified and politically correct campus, but one that is more challenging -- one that includes different points of view and is more welcoming to people of color and trans students. Does that mean the fights on campus are over? Absolutely not. If anything, we'll see more of these fights on college campuses as students take professors and administrators to task for teaching staid curricula that don't relate to their lived experiences. But I think that's a positive sign: Isn't it great that students are passionate about what they're learning, passionate enough to demand that it be changed to more accurately reflect the world we live in today? They're asking for more, not less.
But what I do [think] is mostly over is the era of conservative provocateurs claiming that their free speech has been violated because students simply don't want to hear them speak. Colleges, after all, are some of the most highly curated environments out there, and faculty, administrators and many others are realizing there's nothing wrong with limiting some speech. After all, that's their literal jobs -- to create syllabi, classroom discussions, etc. that teach students some things, but not everything. Is not including a book on a syllabus a violation of free speech? Of course not. Why is the logic of not inviting racist speakers to campus different?
Unfortunately I do think there will be more legal battles over this. You're seeing conservative legislators trying to block students from protesting on campus in several states, something that's sure to only anger students further.
Q: When it comes to incidents related to free speech, i.e. controversial speakers, shout-downs, protests and more, what do you think administrators get wrong in their response?
A: I think administrators have kind of had the wool pulled over their eyes when it comes to free speech and inviting controversial speakers. They think they have some duty to present conflictual viewpoints even if those viewpoints are racist, anti-intellectual and simply not factual. As one Middlebury student pointed out to me, the administrators don't invite people who [don't] want to present evolution or global warming as a truth, because that would conflict with the college's academic values. Why is inviting someone who believes in an outdated concept such as race science, like Charles Murray, held to a less stringent standard?
The job of colleges and universities has always been to limit some forms of information while promoting others. A conservative Christian university would likely not invite someone to talk about the benefits of communism and atheism, and we do not expect them to. You don't go to history class to learn to bake a cake. Classrooms are generally led by professors, and students are not allowed to speak out of turn. In other words, colleges have always been some of the most limited speaking environments in the world, so why is inviting or not inviting a conservative provocateur different? I think administrators are simply scared of angering some very powerful forces. That's especially true of public universities, where their budgets might be cut if they piss off the wrong legislators.
Q: You argue in the book that you believe conservatives have hijacked the concept of free speech for their own purposes. Do you think conservatives truly believe in the notion of free speech at all, and if not, why?
A: I think many conservatives believe in free speech but don't really question what it means. We've been taught a very specific definition of free speech that promotes certain speech while quashing other speech. If I voice my opinion in my house, that's free speech; if I voice it, uninvited, at my neighbor's house, that's a home invasion and I could be legally shot in many states! If you enter a Walmart, you're not allowed to photograph anything. If you yell in a government building about a grievance, you can be arrested for protesting.
This is where we get into the conservatives that I believe see free speech as nothing more than a tool to push their agenda. In the 1980s, the Koch brothers and their policy advisers got together and put together a plan to infiltrate college campuses with free-market ideology. They knew that people wouldn't simply accept lower tax rates and deregulation of the economy, so they purposefully invested in what they called "raw materials" -- professorships, literature and student groups -- that would push for conservative beliefs under the guise of free speech.
Q: White nationalist speakers such as Richard Spencer and others have largely ceased college tours. Do you anticipate a time where they, or others like them, will resume this speaking circuit?
A: Not really. Maybe in 10 or 20 years, once we've all forgotten how much of a failure these conservative speakers were. They essentially got laughed out of public discourse. College students and other activists have been remarkably successful at getting their point across and de-emphasizing the importance of these provocateurs. Evergreen College, for example, is seen as a controversial example of protest, and in many cases even a failure, because of the protests there in recent years over an overly white faculty and curriculum that didn't center anyone but white people. But in my mind, it's actually a success story: students got much of what they wanted, and the school is now more committed to diversity in hiring and teaching. Because of those successes, right-wingers have had to take a step back and restrategize. That doesn't mean they're not still active on college campuses. But I suspect they'll develop a different tactic soon, since the provocateur model has kind of failed.
Q: Some students want "hate speech" to be punishable on public college campuses. Do you believe there is the will among administrators to do this, or to change over all what is acceptable at these institutions, despite First Amendment concerns?
A: Again, this goes back to colleges being some of the most highly curated environments out there. Is denying someone admission to a college a threat to that person's free speech? Is failing someone in a class a threat to their free speech? Is a student not being able to disrupt a class whenever they want a threat to free speech? We take these limits as a given, and even a positive in colleges, yet when it comes to students requesting or demanding that colleges not allow professors or students to say racist, transphobic and other offensive language without punishment, that becomes a step too far for administrators. So I would question whether they're really afraid of limiting speech (which, as I said, they do all the time), or whether they're afraid of confronting just how common and ingrained transphobia, racism and other forms of oppression are on their campuses.Editorial Tags: Free speechIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box:
President Trump said in Louisville, Ky., Wednesday that he would wipe out “every penny” of student loan debt held by disabled veterans.
At an event organized by the veterans group AMVETS, Trump signed a memorandum directing the Education Department to automatically discharge federal student loans held by veterans who qualify as permanently disabled.
Democratic lawmakers and state officials had urged Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for months to take that step.
DeVos and Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie announced last year that their agencies would begin identifying and reaching out to veterans who may qualify for the benefit. Since then, more than 22,000 borrowers have received a total of $650 million in loan forgiveness.
But in a letter to DeVos in May, attorneys general for 51 states and territories wrote to say that the process remained inadequate and said requiring veterans to affirmatively seek loan discharge would create insurmountable obstacles for many.
Under the process outlined in the White House memorandum Wednesday, veterans will receive loan forgiveness automatically unless they decide to opt out -- a decision some might make because of issues like state tax liability. Congress last year eliminated federal tax liability for veteran loan forgiveness.
“Supporting and caring for those who have sacrificed much in service to our country is a priority for President Trump and the entire administration,” DeVos said in a statement.
Education Department data provided last year to two groups, Veterans Education Success and Vietnam Veterans of America, showed that more than 42,000 borrowers were eligible for the loan forgiveness benefit, known as Total and Permanent Disability discharge. Of those eligible veterans, more than 25,000 had defaulted on roughly $168 million in student loans -- a sign of both how much veterans were struggling with loan payments and how underutilized the loan forgiveness program had been.
Borrowers enter default when they go more than 270 days without making a payment on their student loans, which has negative repercussions for their credit and blocks their ability to take out other federal student aid.
In response to those Education Department figures, several veterans' groups called on DeVos to make the loan forgiveness process automatic.
“It is not fair to ask severely disabled veterans to have to complete paperwork, especially given that some catastrophic disabilities will interfere with their ability to complete the paperwork,” those groups wrote in a November letter. “Further, the fact that more than half of veterans eligible for student loan forgiveness are currently in default is absolutely egregious -- the government needs to do more to help those who have sacrificed so much for our country.”
Washington senator Patty Murray, the ranking Democrat on the Senate education committee, also encouraged DeVos in November to provide automatic loan forgiveness to qualifying veterans in a letter that outlined a process like the one announced by the Trump administration Wednesday.
The Education Department said that it would notify 25,000 eligible veterans about the automatic loan discharge. It will continue notifying qualifying veterans on a quarterly basis.
The announcement was applauded by veterans' groups and advocates for student borrowers. Some, however, said it showed the federal government could be doing more to automate loan forgiveness for other borrowers. Georgetown University law professor John Brooks noted on Twitter that any totally disabled person is eligible to have their student loans discharged.
Disabled vets should be just the start for @usedgov. ALL disabled borrowers should have their loans discharged, as is their long-standing right under the law.— John Brooks (@jakebrooksGULC) August 21, 2019
Carrie Wofford, president of Veterans Education Success, called the announcement a welcome development.
"We look forward to working with the Education Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs to educate eligible veterans and to ensure a successful rollout of this program and to determine how it will make whole the 25,023 totally and permanently disabled veterans who were wrongly put into default, harming their credit scores, offsetting their tax returns and withholding their VA disability living allowance," she said.
Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education, said the group would push the Trump administration to streamline other loan forgiveness programs as well.
"While we commend the administration, we will continue to call on it to take action to address the similarly egregious loan cancellation problems in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness and TEACH Grant programs," he said.Student Aid and LoansEditorial Tags: Financial aidVeteransImage Source: Getty ImagesImage Caption: President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in Louisville, Ky.Ad Keyword: Student loans Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box:
The price to attend the law schools at Columbia and Stanford Universities and the University of Chicago will pass $100,000 this academic year, making them the first of the nation’s law schools to blow past that mark. Several of their law school peers are poised just below it and will surpass six figures soon.
Columbia’s cost of attendance went from $97,850 in 2018-19 to $101,345 this upcoming year, according to its costs and budgeting information published online, which includes both tuition and fees and law students’ nine-month cost of living expenses. Stanford Law will charge $101,016 this upcoming year, as reported in its 2019-20 Financial Aid Handbook. That's a 4.5 percent increase from its 2018-19 total cost of $96,429. Chicago edged over the $100,000 mark by $80 for first-year students, but is at a mere $98,505 for second- and third-year students.
A six-figure cost of attendance can be shocking to prospective law students at first glance, said Kyle McEntee, director of Law School Transparency, a nonprofit that aims to increase the accountability and affordability of the nation’s law schools.
But many elite schools like Harvard Law, the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Law and Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law have been creeping toward $100,000 over the past three years, with 2019-20 costs at $99,200, $98,484 and $94,410, respectively.
In a statement, Stanford Law said its tuition pricing is set by the university and noted that cost of attendance accounts for both university-provided health insurance and the high cost of living in the San Francisco Bay Area, which was more than one-third of Stanford’s total COA and $10,000 more than Columbia Law’s cost of living in 2018-19, according to the American Bar Association’s most recent required disclosures.
“Tuition covers roughly one-third of the actual cost of educating law students,” the statement read. “Stanford Law School currently has the lowest tuition rates among our peers.”
The cost of attending elite law schools is rising over all, so Stanford Law and Columbia Law surpassing $100,000 is unsurprising and won’t affect application rates for these schools, said Chris Chapman, president and CEO of AccessLex, a nonprofit that works to improve legal education.
For law students considering the two schools, which are ranked second (Stanford) and fifth (Columbia) in U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 Best Law Schools, they acknowledge the high costs as an investment in a prestigious legal education, Chapman said.
“They could increase demand and that wouldn’t impact the number of people who apply or qualify [to attend],” Chapman said. “These schools, they’re perceived as a premium item, a luxury good. You almost have a reverse psychology that if it’s not that expensive, it’s not that good. No one wants to be seen as the cheap version of these schools.”
Top law schools generally aren’t worried about expenses diminishing their attractiveness, McEntee said, and the law students attending won’t be dramatically swayed by an additional $1,000 to $3,000, said Chapman, who compared the decision to investment in other big-ticket purchases.
“Most people don’t walk away from a house that they really enjoy being in for a couple thousand dollars in savings,” Chapman said.
But it is possible that some schools with costs of attendance upward of $90,000 are strategically limiting increases in tuition to avoid reaching $100,000, McEntee said. Harvard Law showed evidence of slowing its tuition and fee increases -- if it had increased by the same amount this year as in 2018-19, the school would also be hitting $100,000 for 2019-20, but tuition and fees increased by only 3.2 percent this year, which is a lower rate than each of its yearly increases over the last five years, McEntee said.
Harvard Law’s Office of Communications did not reply to multiple requests for comment.
While the $100,000 marker may not impact students who know they can afford a Stanford or Columbia legal education or who plan on making loan repayments with a substantial salary, low-income prospective students and those hoping to enter the public sphere are much more likely to notice this cost, McEntee said.
Students who attend these law schools could accumulate as much as $300,000 or more in loans by the time they pass the bar, which could take 25 years to pay off at roughly $2,500 a month.
“Those increases hurt. They make it more difficult for students who attend Columbia to consider noncorporate careers,” McEntee said. “On top of that, the national data show that people of color are more likely to pay full price than their white counterparts.”
To help students afford its legal education, Stanford Law said in a statement it provides “very generous loan forgiveness and financial aid programs.”
“Columbia Law School is committed to making a first-rate legal education accessible to students regardless of their financial circumstances,” wrote Columbia Law in a statement. “We devote substantial resources to financial aid and have increased this support in recent years.”
Grants and scholarships from the schools haven’t made a meaningful dent in a majority of students’ cost of attendance, either, with 47 percent of Stanford students and half of students at Columbia receiving financial aid from the school in 2017-18, according to 509 disclosures. Law School Transparency's financial aid analyses show that 49.8 percent of Columbia Law students paid full price in 2018-19, McEntee said.
Tuition increases over the past decade -- private law schools were collectively 1.2 times as expensive in 2018 as in 2008 (when adjusted for inflation), LST reported -- are leading many students to pursue corporate law, where returns are likely to be higher than in other fields, McEntee said.
“You can spend any time with any group of law students with any type of debt, and they’ll tell you, they don’t get to go into the career they want because of this,” McEntee said. “These law students could be the leaders of our future. That makes this really important.”Editorial Tags: College costs/pricesLaw schoolsImage Source: Istockphoto.com/Feodora ChioseaIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Trending text: Expensive Law SchoolsTrending order: 2College: Columbia University in the City of New YorkStanford UniversityDisplay Promo Box:
The Missing Course: Everything They Never Taught You About College Teaching (Harvard University Press) is about what many professors don't know because they haven't been taught. David Gooblar, who has taught writing and rhetoric at the University of Iowa, and is now associate director of Temple University's Center for the Advancement of Teaching, offers tips and ideas in a conversational tone. He responded via email to questions about his book.
Q: In your book, you talk a lot about getting students to talk. What are some good ways to do this, and why is it so important?
A: Learning does not happen if students aren’t engaged. Talking is simply one of the most common ways that students engage with our courses and their classmates. Does that mean that any time a student talks she’s actively revising her prior knowledge and learning something new? No, of course not. But it does mean that she’s present, that she’s engaged and that you can work with her. For almost every kind of college course, students feeling comfortable enough to talk in class is a necessary precondition to their learning. A course that values student voices is one that honors students’ autonomy; signals to students that their lives, experiences and wisdom all matter; and creates a space they can make meaningful for themselves.
The best way to get students to talk is to plan on it. If your conception of teaching is to talk at students for a half an hour and then ask, “Any questions?” students will understand that their talking -- or not talking -- matters little to the class. If, however, you structure your class in a way that depends on what students say, you’ll have much better luck at getting them to talk. Design activities in which students need to talk to each other and to you. Begin discussion of a topic by asking students what they already know about it. Encourage students to illustrate important concepts with examples from their own lives. We don’t teach English or physics or anthropology; we teach students. Center students and what they know -- and don’t know! -- in your pedagogy, and you’ll find that they’ll do lots of talking.
Q: What about science courses? Does this approach work there?
A: Definitely, although I know it can be a hard sell to some instructors. The lecture is so embedded in college science instruction -- especially when we think about large introductory lecture classes -- that it may seem impossible to adopt an approach that centers students. But there has been a small but dedicated cadre of scholars who have been promoting new approaches to science education, particularly since the 1990s, after a number of studies showed a marked decline in science majors. I’m thinking of Kimberly Tanner, Eric Mazur and Carl Wieman, but there are many others.
Mazur’s peer instruction approach (which began in his physics classroom at Harvard) has been very influential, as has, to some extent, the 5E instructional model. I’m a big fan of what’s known as inductive (as opposed to deductive) teaching. Instead of teaching theories or general principles and then introducing applications of those big concepts, inductive teaching begins by giving students problems to solve, through which they make hypotheses and begin to construct general theories. That’s when teaching the underlying principle can really be effective, after students have figured out for themselves why it needs to exist.
Q: When a professor has to teach certain material in a class, how does he/she let students “own the course”?
A: We know that if students feel that the course is their own, they are much more likely to be motivated to learn. One way to encourage that sense of ownership is to cede control over elements of the course, wherever possible, to students. Let them decide. We need to look for ways to give students control of their learning.
This process begins by thinking carefully about your goals for the course and for your students. By first establishing a handful of significant learning goals for your students, you’ll be able to figure out the elements of your course you absolutely have to control. What you don’t need to control, you can put students in charge of. You may need to cover certain material, but do you need to assess students’ knowledge in a specified way? Maybe you can give students some choice about their assignments. Or about what kinds of secondary sources they consult. Or even about the structure of individual class periods. Student buy-in is just about the most important factor I can think of for a successful course. If you want to encourage student buy-in, give students choices.
Q: What is a two-stage exam, and how can it improve teaching?
A: The two-stage exam is a technique I learned about from the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative. Essentially, students take the same exam twice: first individually and then immediately afterwards in small groups. In their groups, they can compare where their answers differed from each other, discuss how they arrived at those answers and come to a consensus on which answers are ultimately best. Most instructors weigh the individual exam far more than the group attempt -- so students still have to study hard. Students receive immediate feedback on their answers while at the same time gaining exposure to alternative approaches to difficult problems. It’s a great technique.
But more important than the technique -- or any technique, for that matter -- is the change of mind-set the technique suggests. What I try to do in the book is move away from seeing good teaching as the accumulation of a series of discrete teaching tips in favor of encouraging instructors to adopt a mind-set that prioritizes what we know about how students learn best.
So while I love the idea of two-stage exams, even better is the shift they seem to reflect, from seeing exams as merely a method of assessing student performance to seeing them as a further opportunity to promote learning. We should be looking for those opportunities everywhere.
Q: What about student evaluations of professors? How can they be improved?
A: There is ample evidence that student evaluations reflect pernicious biases, and we should be suspicious of how well they can measure learning or teaching effectiveness. I personally think that departments and institutions should move away from using evaluations to assess faculty performance for employment decisions. But for the college instructors who I hope will read my book -- whether they are graduate students teaching for the first time or tenured professors looking to reinvigorate their practice -- the more salient question is whether or not evaluations can be useful in helping us to improve our teaching.
The book’s final chapter offers a whole host of ways to revise your teaching, including ways to use evaluations constructively. One way is to give students opportunities to evaluate the course informally well before the end of the semester. This signals to them that you care about their experience of the course, that you want to know what they think in time to do something about it. I think such a practice encourages students to take evaluations seriously, which can pay off when they fill out the more formal surveys at the end of the semester. Student self-assessments, as well, can help students consider their role in creating the course -- a valuable counterweight to the usual model of them evaluating you. Finally, the book provides advice on how to draw clearer conclusions by reading student evaluations calmly, which is a tall order for academics who care about their teaching.New Books About Higher EducationEditorial Tags: BooksTeachingIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Trending text: The Course That Wasn't OfferedTrending order: 1Display Promo Box:
Since its launch in 2014, career-services platform Handshake has dominated the higher ed market. Despite revelations that fraudsters have been able to create faux internships on Handshake, and students raising privacy concerns, the online service has spread to more than 800 institutions, where college career centers mainly use it to connect students to potential employers -- including every Fortune 500 company.
Handshake has been moving for years toward a business model more akin to networking websites such as LinkedIn or Facebook. The platform’s most recent shift, announced Tuesday, seems to continue this trend, though Handshake’s co-founder, Garrett Lord, said it is not a media company.
Now any student with an email address ending in .edu can sign up on Handshake for free without being required to be enrolled at one of the colleges or universities with which the company has partnered.
Handshake’s representatives are touting the change as a way to continue “democratizing” job opportunities and helping students find employment or an internship with one of Handshake's more than 400,000 employers, regardless of where the students live or attend college. Colleges and universities use Handshake to store student information such as résumés, cover letters and university transcripts. Students build online profiles using their own information and list their academic interests. Employers can review these profile and post jobs or internships, also for free.
The move by Handshake is an indication of how students are now far less reliant on actually visiting college career services centers for help finding internships and jobs. This trend has forced administrators in these offices to redefine their roles in assisting students get a start on their career paths.
“Opening up Handshake and launching peer-learning features will make it easier for students and recent grads to share advice and learn from one another -- in addition to their amazing career center advisers -- so they can more easily find a job that’s right for them,” Lord wrote in an email. “Most college students starting their careers don’t have established professional networks to leverage, and these enhancements to Handshake have been made to meet students’ unique job and internship search needs.”
Though other companies offer platforms similar to Handshake, many institutions’ career services offices prefer Handshake because it’s easy for students and administrators to use. This is the case at Loyola Marymount University, a private Jesuit college in Los Angeles that has used Handshake for three years.
Branden F. Grimmett, associate provost for career and professional development, said he appreciates that Handshake was made available to all students because it's helpful for them to know how to navigate the platform, even if they attended an institution that doesn’t use Handshake. He said now if students transfer to Loyola Marymount from a institution that doesn't use the platform, they might have some familiarity with it.
He also likes that universities that do use Handshake retain some unique features that aren't available to students who signed up for Handshake outside a university. For example, Handshake rolled out student reviews of employers in recent years. The reviews document their experiences at certain companies or in particular jobs.
“It’s good that they recognize the value in what universities are paying for,” Grimmett said.
Lord wrote in his email that “Handshake is even better for students at our 800-plus partner schools.” He believes students benefit from working with professors and career services staff who rely on Handshake to help advise and mentor students. Colleges also receive data about the number of students that use the platform and are placed in positions.
In a separate, written statement, Handshake executives seemed to want to assure paying clients that making the service available to more students would not diminish the relationships with the colleges that pay for it.
“Universities have been at the center of Handshake since the company was founded, and that’s not changing,” Christine Cruzveraga, vice president of higher education and student success at Handshake, said in the statement. “Opening up access is a critical next step in contributing to educational equity and realizing our mission of democratizing opportunity for every student -- including those that may attend an institution without the resources to offer career services. We’re all part of this larger ecosystem.”
Three college representatives interviewed for this article either declined to say or did not know how much their institutions paid for their contracts with Handshake.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers, the group representing career services professionals, declined to comment on Handshake or similar services.
Lord helped create Handshake after dropping out of Michigan Technological University. He has said that his computer science-oriented friends who attended the university couldn’t find internships nearby because it was located in Michigan’s secluded Upper Peninsula.
Handshake will most likely benefit students who attend smaller institutions that may not host robust career fairs, said Kevin Kruger, president of NASPA: Student Affairs Professionals in Higher Education.
First-generation or impoverished students particularly have trouble finding positions, and programs such as Handshake can help them market themselves and track down these jobs, Kruger said.
Student career services on college campuses have been transformed because of the ubiquity of Handshake and other similar platforms. Administrators often can’t get students to visit career center offices anymore, and the job counselors have become more like guides that help students apply for online postings rather than find them actual opportunities, Kruger said.
He noted how students are developing virtual career profiles -- “passports,” Kruger calls them -- and taking them from institution to institution, especially as more students are transferring nowadays.
“Over all, when I talk to folks around campus, I think this move is a pretty positive one,” Kruger said.
Joseph A. Testani, assistant dean and executive director of the Gwen M. Greene Center for Career Education and Connections at the University of Rochester, said his staff is trying to help students make sense of all the job opportunities and information at their fingertips.
“More information isn’t always better,” he said.
Testani likened some of the services Handshake offers to Yelp or Glassdoor. Students tend to trust the opinions of other students over other adults, even alumni who have been in these positions before, he said.
Rochester sends students email blasts about career services events through Handshake, as well as job postings that are curated to match the academic interests they indicate in their profiles, Testani said.
“We’re trying to navigate more critically to figure out where students are at,” he said.
Handshake has come under fire for potentially infringing on student privacy. Inside Higher Ed reported in 2017 that students were unaware their personal information -- such as grade point averages -- had been posted for the view of employers. Some privacy experts suggested at the time that the students had not closely read Handshake’s terms of service, because universities said the students had given permission for all of their information to be made somewhat public.
A student at the University of Delaware last year was able to construct a fake employer, register it on Handshake and view her peers’ personal information.
Privacy settings are now much clearer for students when they log on to Handshake, Lord said
All students have the option to remain completely anonymous on the Handshake network and only use it to view or apply to jobs or interact with their career centers. They can also choose whether they want to appear in searches employers conduct.
Students with public profiles can separately decide whether they want to share their GPA, Lord said. He said before Handshake started its employer-review system, it tested it with students “to ensure they understood their community privacy options clearly.”
Handshake also recently formed a Trust and Safety Council, comprising privacy experts, lawyers and administrators, which meets weekly to discuss various issues and features of the platform.
“We’re happy to report that Handshake’s rate of fraudulent job postings or moderation flags is far below any other site students are using to find jobs or get career advice,” Lord wrote in his email.Editorial Tags: Career AdviceCareer servicesIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box:
New presidents or provosts: Belmont Empire Everett Hastings Ottawa Tallahassee UNC Asheville UWGB Washington State Winthrop
- Michael Alexander, director of the School of Music at the University of Northern Colorado, has been selected as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay.
- Garikai Campbell, provost and dean at Knox College, in Illinois, has been appointed provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of North Carolina at Asheville.
- Jim Malatras, president of Rockefeller Institute of Government, part of the State University of New York System, has been chosen as president of Empire State College, also part of SUNY.
- Adrienne McCormick, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Winthrop University, in South Carolina, has been named provost and executive vice president for academic affairs there.
- Mitzi Montoya, Sara Hart Kimball Dean of the College of Business at Oregon State University, has been appointed provost and executive vice president at Washington State University.
- Madeline Pumariega, former chancellor of the Florida College System, has been chosen as executive vice president and provost at Tallahassee Community College, also in Florida.
- Barbara Sunderman, interim vice president for academic affairs at Hastings College, in Nebraska, has been named to the job on a permanent basis.
- Dennis Tyner, senior vice president and provost at Ottawa University's campus in Arizona, has been appointed as president there.
- Jeremy Vittek, dean of instruction at Belmont College, in Ohio, has been promoted to vice president of academic and student affairs there.
- Daria J. Willis, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Onondaga Community College, in New York, has been selected as president of Everett Community College, in Washington.
It seems like it's always been here, but this is only the 22nd edition. The Marist Mindset List (formerly the Beloit list) after the college that founded it, is the list that tells you what freshmen know -- and what they don't (traditional age freshman). Marist College took over the list this year.
Here's the list for this year:
1. Like Pearl Harbor for their grandparents, and the Kennedy assassination for their parents, 9/11 is an historical event.
2. Thumb, jump, and USB flash drives have always pushed floppy disks further into history.
3. The primary use of a phone has always been to take pictures.
4. The nation’s mantra has always been: “If you see something, say something.”
5. The Tech Big Four -- Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Google -- are to them what the Big Three automakers were to their grandparents.
6. Their smart pens may write and record faster than they can think.
7. Nearly half of their generation is composed of people of color.
8. When they pulled themselves up off the floor for the first time, they may have been hanging onto the folks’ brand-new Xbox.
9. There have always been indecisive quadrennial debates regarding the future of the Electoral College.
10, Oklahoma City has always had a national memorial at its center.
11. Self-contained, battery-powered artificial hearts have always been ticking away.
12. Because of Richard Reid’s explosive footwear at 30,000 feet, passengers have always had to take off their shoes to slide through security on the ground.
13. They are as non-judgmental about sexual orientation as their parents were about smoking pot.
14. They have outlived iTunes.
15. Heinous, sexually-based offenses have always been investigated by the Special Victims Unit on Law and Order.
16. The Mars Odyssey has always been checking out the water supply for their future visits to Mars.
17. Snapchat has become their social media app of choice, thus relieving them of the dilemma of whether or not to friend Mom.
18. In an unprecedented move, European nations via NATO have always helped to defend the U.S. militarily.
19. They may well not have a younger sibling, as the birth rate in the U.S. has been dropping since they were in grammar school.
20. PayPal has always been an online option for purchasers.
21. They have witnessed two African-American secretaries of state, the election of a black president, Disney’s first black princess, and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.
22. As they crawled on the floor, TV headlines began crawling at the bottom of the TV screen.
23. “Pink slime” has always been a food additive.
24. With flyovers, honor guards, and “God Bless America,” sporting events have always been marked by emphatic patriotism.
25. Only two-thirds of this generation identify as exclusively heterosexual.
26. Segways have always been trying to revolutionize the way people move.
27. YouTube has become the video version of Wikipedia.
28. There has always been an International Criminal Court, and the U.S. has never been a signatory.
29. Newfoundland and Labrador has always been, officially, Newfoundland-and-Labrador.
30. There has always been an American Taliban.
31. By their sophomore year, their generation will constitute one-quarter of the U.S. population.
32. Apple iPods have always been nostalgic.
33. They have always been able to fly Jet Blue, but never Ted and Song.
34. Quarterback Troy Aikman has always called the plays live from the press booth.
35. It has always been illegal to use a hand-held cell phone while driving in New York State.
36. Except for when he celebrated Jeopardy’s 35th anniversary, Alex Trebek has never had a moustache.
37. Face recognition technology has always been used at public events
38. Skilled DJs have transitioned into turntablists.
39. The Apple Power Mac Cube has always been in a museum.
40. The year they were born, the top NBA draft pick came directly out of high school for the first time.
41. They have always been concerned about catching the West Nile virus.
42. There has always been a DisneySea in Tokyo.
43, They have grown up with Big Data and ubiquitous algorithms that know what they want before they do.
44. Most of them will rent, not buy, their textbooks.
45. They have probably all been “gaslighted” or “ghosted.”
46. There have always been “smartwatches.”
47. Their grandparents’ classic comics have evolved into graphic novels.
48. They have grown up with a Patriot Act that has dramatically increased state surveillance to prevent terrorism.
49. Defibrillators have always been so simple to use that they can be installed at home.
50. Pittsburgh’s Steelers and Pirates have never played at Three Rivers Stadium.
51. Congress has always banned human cloning completely and threatened arrest for offenders.
52. At least one of the murderers of the four school girls in Birmingham, Ala. in 1963 has always been in prison.
53. Monica and Chandler have always been married on Friends.
54. Blackboards have never been dumb.
55. A Roman Catholic Pope has always visited a mosque.
56. Cal Ripken, Jr., has always been retired.
57. The U.S. has always been withdrawn from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
58. Euthanasia has always been legal in the Netherlands.
59. Teams have always been engaged in an Amazing Race around the world.
60. Coke and Pepsi have always been competing in the sports hydration science marketplace.
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Survey results in 2017 suggested that typical conservatives had increasingly begun to share the president's dim view of higher ed. In a Pew survey, only 36 percent of Republican and GOP-leaning respondents said higher education had a positive effect on the direction of the country -- a steep drop-off from responses only two years before, although the slide had begun in 2016, before the election. (NOTE: This article has been updated from an earlier version to clarify when the poll numbers began dropping.)
Results from another recent Pew survey indicate that those views have persisted. In July, only 33 percent of Republican survey respondents said higher ed had a positive effect. And 59 percent believed higher ed had a negative effect on the country’s direction, the highest number in the survey’s findings so far.
Rather than a temporary blip, the Pew findings suggest a continuing challenge for college leaders hoping to maintain or repair a bipartisan consensus in support of postsecondary education.
That Pew survey found 67 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning respondents had positive views of higher ed, a slight drop-off from two years prior. Over all, 50 percent of U.S. adults said they had positive views of postsecondary education.
“It is certainly something we're aware of, and we do find it troubling,” said Dan Madzelan, associate vice president for government relations at the American Council on Education. “Higher education historically has not been caught up in any kind of partisan divide.”
The factors behind the lower approval rates (higher ed had positives of 63 percent for all Americans in 2015) likely go beyond partisan attacks or controversies driven by cable news. Americans of all political persuasions have cited the rising cost of college in previous survey responses. And the elite college admissions scandal that unfolded earlier this year damaged the higher ed brand even though it involved only a handful of highly selective institutions.
The overall picture of the public’s view of higher ed is probably more complicated as well. Surveys released by D.C.-based think tanks in 2018 and this year found broad support for the value proposition of higher ed even among conservatives.
And Pew findings suggest colleges aren’t unique in their lower standing with the general public.
Views of U.S. Institutions Are Down Across the Board
The latest numbers on the partisan divide over higher ed came from a July survey of opinions on major U.S. institutions. No more than 50 percent of respondents had positive views of the impact made by entities like large financial institutions, tech firms, churches, labor unions, large corporations and the national news media.
Only unions and banks had seen significant improvement in public perception since 2010, according to the Pew results. And tech firms had seen the most precipitous drop-off in positive public opinion. Whereas 50 percent said they had a positive view of tech companies’ impact in July, 68 percent had positive perceptions of the sector in 2010. The gap in views between Republicans and Democrats on the industry was also fairly small compared to other institutions.
It’s not clear why positive views of higher ed among Democrats may have dropped off since 2015. The July survey, which polled roughly 1,500 people and had a margin of error of 4.4 percent for questions on partisan views, didn’t ask detailed questions about common concerns with colleges -- such as cost, degree value or free speech on campus.
Pew conducted the survey about four months after federal prosecutors filed indictments against dozens of individuals involved in buying their children admission into elite, highly selective colleges. The scandal stemming from that operation, dubbed Varsity Blues, fueled public cynicism of the idea that higher ed is a meritocratic system.
David Schleifer, vice president for opinion research at Public Agenda, cautioned against attaching too much significance to the apparent drop in positive views among Democrats.
“It’s not a major drop like you see when you look at the Republican side,” he said. “Let’s see where that goes over the next year.”
More Nuanced Findings on Public Perceptions
After Pew and Gallup shed light on Republicans’ increasingly negative view of higher ed, subsequent surveys have presented a more nuanced picture of public opinion. A New America report in 2018 found Republicans and Democrats agreed on the value of a degree. The sharpest divide was over who should pay for college -- the government or students themselves.
A Third Way survey released this summer found roughly 50 percent of Republicans had a favorable view of higher education, while 44 percent had negative views. The survey also found overwhelming GOP support for vocational schools and public community colleges. And both Republicans and Democrats surveyed supported accountability for low-performing institutions by large margins.
Schleifer said the kinds of questions surveys pose could affect how respondents report their views on higher ed. Individuals could have very different reasons for concluding colleges are having a positive or negative impact on the country.
“It’s important to keep in mind that that's a really different question from whether a degree is important for economic success or important for success in the workplace,” he said.Editorial Tags: Politics (national)Image Source: Getty ImagesAd Keyword: Higher educationIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Trending text: Skeptical RepublicansTrending order: 1Display Promo Box: