Education Policy & Practice

Archive for the ‘Higher Education’ Category

Stevenson University (formerly Villa Julie College), recognized as one of America’s “Top Up-and-Coming Schools” and “Great Schools, Great Prices” in U. S. News & World Report’s newly released 2010 edition of “America’s Best Colleges” is a small liberal arts university located in northern Baltimore County.  [tweetmeme =”wordpress”]

In the “News” section of its website, Stevenson advertises:

Visit Stevenson’s Campus and Earn Credit Toward Tuition

Prospective students can now earn a $250 credit towards their tuition when they register for and complete a qualifying campus visit. This credit will be awarded to them contingent upon their admission and full-time enrollment to the University for the fall 2010 semester.
I’ve never heard of this type of incentive for incoming freshmen.  And in all honesty, I must state that I don’t immediately disagree with this strategy, while I must also disclose that I do not have any knowledge of the rationale behind it.  Is this incentive part of a larger marketing/recruitment campaign?  I wonder what the – process was that led to offering a $250 credit.  Are the enrollment figures low?  How effective will a $250 incentive be in attracting students who might not otherwise consider Stevenson University? How will the University determine the effectiveness of this program? Will prospective students find that Stevenson is more attractive with a $250 inducement? 
 
Has anyone see an incentive like this one in higher education?  Please share if you have – I’m curious.    
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What memories do you have of your pre-college experiences on a college campus and how do you think that helped shape your attitude toward and perception of college? [tweetmeme=”wordpress”]

Here are a few of my memories.  Frankly, I thought college was cool.

  • My earliest memory is from elementary school.  I participated in a summer arts enrichment program at Towson University.  The program was only for a few hours in the morning, for the duration of a few weeks.  I remember the cookies and juice that they served us for snacks.  I remember reading Rudyard Kipling.  I remember the sculpture class.  I don’t remember any of the people, however.
  • Another memory is of spending at least a part of a summer or two at an overnight basketball camp. I was probably a young teenager at that time. I remember my fascination with the concept of dormitory living, shared bathrooms, and the cafeteria.  I liked it.
  • My older cousin was a standout basketball player at Morgan State University, which is only a mile from where I grew up.  She invited me to spend the night on campus after attending one of her games.  I was excited, because at that time I was a varsity starter at my high school and was in awe of the real-ness of being a college basketball player.  And to boot, I would get to spend the night in a real college dorm with real college kids.

I recently asked my 15-year old cousin, “Have you ever spent any time on a college campus?”  He has not had any meaningful experience in a college setting.  To be fair, he has attended several college graduations at such institution as Duke University, Trinity College (Hartford, CT), the United States Naval Academy.

He then said something that I didn’t anticipate hearing.  After telling him that I wanted him to spend time on a college campus this summer, he quickly said that he didn’t want to do that because college campuses are so big.  Then I knew for sure that I had to get him on a college campus and help him to feel “comfortable.”  I believe that there is a college size and setting for everyone, and I want to help him find one.

I encourage you to speak to as many young people you know about college.

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Yesterday, I submitted a blog post that highlighted Shane Battier and Myron Rolle, two standout African-American male scholar athletes from Duke University and Florida State University respectively. These young men highlighted their personal stories through their “I Am What I Learn” videos, publicized on the U.S. Department of Education website.

Sadly, the other reality, which I fear is significantly more common, is the academic deficit our African-American male athlete suffer.  The Grio reports the findings of a study that shows graduation rates widening between blacks and whites in college football.  According to the report, which was released on Monday by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida:

Overall academic progress continued while the gap between white and African-American football student-athletes increased slightly for the 67 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools (formerly known as Division I-A schools) playing in this year’s college football bowl games.

Troubling figures in the study that show an increase in the disparity include:

  • 57 schools (up from 56 in 2008‐09) or 85 percent had graduation success rates of 66 percent or higher for white football student‐athletes, which was more than 2.8 times the number of schools with equivalent graduation success rates for African‐American football student‐athletes (20 schools or 30 percent).
  • 21 schools (up from 19 in 2008‐09) or 31 percent graduated less than 50 percent of their African‐American football student‐athletes, while only two schools graduated less than 50 percent of their white football student‐athletes.
  • Seven schools (up from five schools in 2008‐09) or 10 percent graduated less than 40 percent of their African‐American football student‐athletes, while no school graduated less than 40 percent of their white football student‐athletes.
  • 14 schools (up from 12 schools in 2008‐09) or 21 percent had graduation success rates for African‐American football student‐athletes that were at least 30 percent lower than their rates for white football student‐athletes.
  • 35 schools (up from 29 schools in 2008‐09) or 52 percent had graduation success rates for African‐American football student‐athletes that were at least 20 percent lower than their rates for white football student‐athletes

Colleges and Universities are held accountable for the success of student-athletes in the classroom, as well as their progression towards graduation.  While I agree with holding their feet to the fire, the problem of chronic and severe underperformance among minority student-athletes starts long before they step foot on a college campus.

Read the full report:

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In an earlier post, “Finding the Road to College,” I urge those who read this blog to speak up about college, to talk to our young people and plant the seed of higher education attainment. Well, this evening, I had the opportunity to practice what I preach.

I was in the checkout line at a local grocery store. We were moving slowly, which afforded me the opportunity to overhear two African-American young ladies chattering away.  They both appeared to be young teenagers – 13 or 14 maybe.

One said to the other, “I said stop f*@$%ing touching me.”  My ears perked and my mind started racing.  That young lady continued, “Look, I’ve had a bad day!”  I seized the opportunity.

Me: “Why did you have a bad day?”
Young Lady1: “Because something bad happened right across the street from my school today.”
Me: “I’m really sorry to hear that.”

Both girls are quiet and stare at me.

Me: “What grade are you in?”
Young Lady1: “8th grade.”
Me: “What college are you going to attend?”
Young Lady1: [pause] … “I don’t know.”
Me: “Well, what would you like to study in college?”
Young Lady1: [smiling]  … “Acting”
Me: “That’s great.  So over the next four years you’ll do well in high school and apply to a great college with a great acting program.”

The young lady nodded affirmatively and smiled.

By that time, I had been rung up and I was paying for my items.  I turned and smiled at the two young ladies and said, “Have a good evening, ladies.”  They both said thank you.  Then “Young Lady1” replied, “You have a good evening, too.”

What a great memory.  I pray that my chance meeting with two young minds will be a part of a set of experiences that lead them in the direction of higher education and plant in their minds the seed that yes, they are college material.  I don’t know anything about those girls – but that does not matter.  They ARE college material.

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My father graduated from the College of Charleston.  My mother attended Towson University (then Towson State University), but she didn’t complete her degree.  That makes me a second-generation college-goer. 

There was no question that my younger sibs and I were going to college.  It wasn’t drilled into our heads, but somehow, it was ingrained in us.  I don’t remember an explicit focus on “college readiness” (talking about college, college visits, early PSATs/SATs) in my K-8 years at St. Francis of Assisi.  But my sibs and I attended uber college prep high schools, and in that kind of environment, college was an expectation.

The one girl from my high school (that I can remember) who didn’t go to college has always stood out in my mind.  Unfortunately, for far too many students in our urban and rural public schools, college (or other postsecondary productivity, as I like to call it) is not a part of their psyche.

In my professional life in education research and evaluation, I’ve visited countless high schools across the country in such cities as Houston, Chicago, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Los Angeles, and Worcester, MA.  So much time and effort is put into establishing “college-going environments” and supporting and guiding high school students along that path.

There isn’t a consensus on when college readiness activities/efforts should begin.  Some say 9th grade, start as soon as they walk through the high school doors.  Some say earlier, and even some say 11th grade is a place to start.  I realize that college may not be for everyone, although, the more I think about what that means, the more I question why that belief is so widely accepted (especially given the shoddy k-12 education that is not uncommon in our poorest communities, but I digress).

I believe that a focus on college, academic excellence, discipline, perseverance, and continual improvement should be instilled in us from birth.  Yes, I realize that we’re all not going to get that.  As far as education goes, college should be an expectation from the first day of kindergarten.  So, by the time a student reaches upper middle school and high school, he/she won’t be shell-shocked when the counselor starts asking about college.  By then, that student has a pretty good sense of how “attainable” college is for him/her, which may be one of the most difficult challenges that counselor will face.

And sadly, minorities and low-income students are far too often deemed (at an early age) not to be college material. And so then does the self-fulfilling prophecy begin/continue.

Let’s remember, as vested members of our communities, to always engage students of all ages, in conversations about college, academic aspirations, and career goals.  Talk about your college experience with excitement and encourage young people to see themselves as college material.


Education Policy & Practice

December 2021
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