Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Social notworking

OMG.  An English teach finds some positives from social networking.  By Andrew Simmons, writing in The Atlantic.

However, while Facebook and Twitter have eroded writing conventions among my students, they have not killed the most important ingredients in personal writing: self-reflection and emotional honesty. For younger high school boys particularly, social networking has actually improved writing – not the product or the process, but the sensitivity and inward focus required to even begin to produce a draft that will eventually be worth editing.  
High school is cruel to all genders, an equal-opportunity destroyer of spirit and self-esteem. I'm focusing on boys because I've seen the phenomenon play out more intensely with them. Also, I was a boy once, and so I understand them better than I understand girls. 
 When I was beginning high school in 1994 boys knew not to reveal weakness and insecurity. Girls didn't seem to like guys who vocalized vulnerability. Athletes usually projected stereotypically masculine traits: along with imposing physical size, aggressive, even belligerent confidence, an easy stance, gait, and casual presence, the signs of being comfortable in their own skins. Even the scrawniest punk guitarists wore hoodies like armor and possessed a prickly toughness seasoned by the experience of having been bullied in middle school. The climate demanded stoicism, cool detachment as the default attitude for boys trying not to lose social standing. Young male attitudes were, as they still are, shaped by music and other forms of pop culture. Mainstream mid-90s rappers had cold-blooded personas. Even Kurt Cobain mumbled through interviews, only opening up in cathartic song, where the rawest admissions could be obtuse and readily cloaked in distortion. Everyone agonized over problems—height, acne, academic ability, body size, a lack of attention from girls, parents splitting up, sick grandparents, needy siblings, general alienation—but no one wanted to talk about them much. At age 14, I was small, smart, and artistic. I wrote well, but the prospect of writing anything that would permit even a teacher to know what I really thought terrified me. Spilling my guts in a writers' workshop with my classmates would have been social suicide. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

This is the story continuing educators have heard for 30 years

I suppose as long as it makes news, we have some measure of job security.  Maybe not a lot, but some.  From Michele Willens, writing in The Atlantic.

I am clearly not alone in my quest for academic validation: Well over half a million of the students enrolled in degree-granting institutions are over the age of 50. “One advantage about returning to college later in life is that the student will likely have a greater sense of purpose and focus and thus be able to capitalize better on what is offered,” says Margaret Gatz, a psychology professor at University of Southern California. “Another advantage is that the older student brings a lifetime of experiences and knowledge to the new information being presented and thus can have a richer learning experience.” 
Gatz points out potential barriers, including competing demands. (Every time I tell my adviser that I can’t imagine how students could be taking four, even five classes at a time, he reminds me they are not also running a household and writing plays. Oh, that.) Another hurdle might be physical stamina. “The older student will be surrounded by college-age youth who have agile memories and who can stay up all night to cram for an exam or finish a paper,” says Gatz. “This just means that the older student must be craftier.” 
Fortunately, there is increasing evidence that older students can succeed and that it will even keep our minds sharper. “There is as much variation in an aging brain as there is in a school child’s brain,” says New York psychiatrist Roger Gould. “If you and your brain are healthy, the only limitations to learning new mental skills and information are your motivation and natural intelligence.” 
James Fallon, a neuroscientist at University of Irvine, claims “people are at their maximum cognitive abilities are in their 60s. It’s the ideal time to balance their executive functions, which younger students don’t necessarily have yet, with intellectual techniques which are likely still there but haven’t been used for a long time.” Fallon, who is 66, says, “I have never been more creative and productive.”

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Enrollments and revenue predicted to decline

At a growing number of colleges and universities.  Particularly at risk are regional publics and small privates.  But hasn't that always been the case?  From CBS News Moneywatch.

A new report by Moody’s Investors Service highlights the growing dysfunction among U.S. universities, with revenue falling at many schools even as tuition costs continuing to climb.  
The credit rating agency estimates that net revenue is expected to decline at 28 percent of public universities in fiscal year 2104 and at 19 percent of private institutions. Moody’s also expects net tuition revenue to grow in 2014 at less than inflation for 44 percent of public universities and 42 percent of private ones. 
“Public universities have not experienced such poor prospects for tuition revenue growth in more than two decades,” the report concluded. 
As financial support from states has declined, meanwhile, students are expected to cover more of their education costs. In fiscal year 2012, for instance, student charges covered 44 percent of public university revenue, which is up from less than one third a decade ago. 
While schools are generating less revenue, Moody's expects enrollment at nearly half of public and private universities also to decline during the same period. 
Despite these challenges, the schools with the strongest brand reputations and broadest academic offerings have been able to mitigate the revenue strain. These schools are expected to experience net tuition revenue growth of six percent. Enrollment grew modestly at the largest and most highly rated universities, while smaller and lower-rated colleges experienced median declines. 
Regional public universities and smaller private schools without a well-defined niche will be most at risk, the report suggested.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I find it hard to believe

That we're less courteous than, say, Illinois. Have they ever been to Chicago? From The Atlantic.

Marchex also attempted to measure more general indications of courtesy—using "please" and "thank you," that kind of thing. And you know who came in for another shout-out? Hello again, Ohio. The other least-courteous states, in order: Wisconsin, which took first place, Massachusetts, Indiana, and Tennessee.
And the most courteous? South Carolina (first place!), North Carolina, Maryland, Louisiana, and Georgia.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Rethinking developmental studies

We're no longer just throwing remedial courses at students who need help. Of course, this is not just a community college problem.  We call our program learning support.  From Sophie Quinton, writing in The Atlantic.

Algebra Doesn't Have to Be Scary
Arica Hawley used to dread math class. She would look at problems and not even know where to begin. When Hawley, 37, went back to Tacoma Community College last fall to finish her associate's degree, she placed into a pre-algebra course—eighth-grade-level material. 
Her mindset didn't change until she took Statway, a college-level statistics course for students who need to master high-school algebra. She earned a math credit, and gained the confidence she needed to switch to a math- and science-heavy nursing program.

Many community-college students never make it to graduation because they can't pass developmental, or remedial, math. Two courses from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and its partners prove that a more engaging curriculum and teaching method can help students succeed. 
"Math is now my favorite," Hawley says. "Chemistry's even making sense." She'll soon have enough credits to transfer to a four-year university. 
Community colleges serve high concentrations of Latino, African-American, and first-generation students, and adult students like Hawley. At Tacoma Community College, an urban campus in a majority white city, 38 percent of the largely working-class student body identify themselves as nonwhite. 
Roughly two-thirds of new community-college students place into developmental math, says Thomas Bailey, director of the Community College Research Center at Teacher's College, located at Columbia University. Of those Of those students, fewer than one in four earn a degree or certificate within eight years.

"It eats up time and financial aid, especially when we have students who have to retake those courses three, four, and five times," says John Kellermeier, the TCC math faculty member who taught Hawley's Statway course. Students who test two or three levels below Algebra II—considered college-level math—have to pass multiple developmental courses before they can take a course that counts toward graduation. 
In 2009, Carnegie founded the Community College Pathways Program, a network of community colleges, professional associations, and researchers determined to improve math literacy. Participants wanted to rethink the content and the teaching method of developmental math, and to draw from the best research available. A number of foundations helped fund the development and implementation of the new materials, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a Next America sponsor. 
The program came up with two one-year courses: statistics course Statway and quantitative-reasoning course Quantway. Statway blends high school algebra and college-level statistics all year, while Quantway is divided into two semesters: one more focused on developmental math, the other more focused on college-level quantitative reasoning.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Thursday, December 5, 2013

I got this telegram from a Nigerian prince...

Con artists have always been around.  From The Atlantic.

As Whitaker notes, schemes like this strike us as modern inventions, the provenance of Nigerian email scammers and shady characters on Craigslist trying to get you to wire them money.  Yet the human desire for lucre—and the unscrupulousness methods we often employ in its pursuit—knows few limitations, geographic or historic. As Whitaker describes, the main difference between our 21st-century cons and those of the Victorian period is one of delivery method. 
Whitaker has uncovered documents from 1905 supposedly written by a distressed Spaniard named Luis Ramos and Jean Richard, a prison chaplain. Addressed to a London shopkeeper named Paul Webb, these letters are straight out of the email scam playbook: Ramos claims to have “property valuable to £37.000” deposited “in a sure English Bank,” and he’ll give Webb a cut if the Englishman agrees to send Ramos a small amount of money to bail his 14-year-old daughter out of prison.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The jerk store called

And it's not always a bad thing.  From Time.

You don’t want a reputation as the office bully, but it turns out there are some attributes of narcissistic or Machiavellian personalities that could give your career a boost.  
Social scientists aren’t just looking for a silver lining; they theorize that there must be some evolutionary benefit to being a jerk. The trouble is, those shrewd or sneaky behaviors that kept our caveman ancestors alive don’t translate as well to the 21st-century water cooler. 
But there are things we can learn from the blowhards, braggarts and backstabbers we have to deal with, and there are even a few behaviors that, when decoupled from the rest of a toxic personality, can give you a leg up on the job.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I guess I'm a slacker

I don't check my smartphone until after I've had some coffee.  Unless I'm using it for an alarm.  From Time.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Brush your teeth? Take a shower? 
According to mobile testing firm SOASTA, it’s none of these. A new 10-city survey of the mobile phone habits of smartphone owners has revealed that 84% of us check an app first thing in the morning. 
The study shows that New Yorkers are especially tech addicted – 92% of city residents start their day by firing up a smartphone. Los Angeles found itself at the bottom of the list, with only 75% of smartphone owners checking an app first thing.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Etiquette
by Ghergich.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.

ETSU to assist those wishing to begin or complete graduate degrees

East Tennessee State University will offer assistance to those desiring to begin work on a graduate degree or those needing to write a thesis or dissertation to complete a degree.

A Graduate Record Examination Test Preparation Workshop will be held on Saturday, Feb.1, 2014, in an all-day session for prospective graduate school applicants.

Sponsored by the ETSU School of Graduate Studies and the School of Continuing Studies and Academic Outreach, the program has a registration fee of $70, which includes coffee and a continental breakfast as well as five hours of instruction on the verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing measures of the GRE. In addition, participants will take three 30-minute practice tests and receive the scores for the tests, along with advice on improving those scores.

The online link for registration is here.  In addition, the School of Graduate Studies and School of Continuing Studies and Academic Outreach are offering a Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) preparation course on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014.  For a registration fee of $125, this all-day workshop will provide instruction on the Integrated Reasoning, Math, and Verbal sections of the GMAT.

The online link for registration is here.

Those who have nearly completed a graduate degree from any institution are invited to attend the ETSU Thesis and Dissertation Boot Camp. The four-session “camp” will emphasize writing time in a library computer lab plus options for mini-workshops on topics such as Milestones and Speed Bumps, Thesis and Dissertation Style Guides, Review of Writing Mechanics, The Review and Editing Process and Organizing Literature for Review. Participants will receive review and feedback by expert thesis and dissertation readers.

The cost is $150 total and each enrollee should attend at all four sessions, which are held on Friday evenings from 5:30-10 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m.-6 p.m., with an option of remaining until 9 p.m. The workshops will be conducted Jan. 24 and 25, Feb. 7 and 8, 21 and 22, and March 21 and 22. The sessions will be held in room 309 of ETSU’s Charles C. Sherrod Library. The registration fee includes snacks and Saturday breakfasts and lunches.

Additional work with a tutor on weekdays is available for a charge of $15 per hour, beginning with the second session. Free oral defense practice is also available upon request.
Online registration is available at here.

The Boot Camp is a collaborative effort of the ETSU School of Graduate Studies, Graduate Council, School of Continuing Studies and Academic Outreach, the Writing Center, the Charles C. Sherrod Library, and graduate faculty.

For further information, contact the ETSU Office of Professional Development at 1-800-222-3878. For disability accommodations, call the ETSU Office of Disability Services at (423) 439-8346.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Common Sense Media's report

On Children's Media Use is out.  Unsurprisingly, more kids have access to and use modile devices.  The link and key findings are below.

Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America 2013
Key Finding 1: Young Kids' Mobile Access Dramatically Higher
Key Finding 2: Kids' Time on Mobile Devices Triples
Key Finding 3: Time with “Traditional” Screen Media is Down
Key Finding 4: TV Still Dominates Kids' Media Time
Key Finding 5: Reduced but Persistent Mobile Digital Divide
Key Finding 6: TV Widest for Education but Digital Growing

Monday, November 25, 2013

Application deadline next week

ACE Now Accepting Nominations for the 2013 Adult Learner of the Year Award 

Is there a student on your campus who has overcome great odds to reach his or her higher education goals? Help honor that achievement by nominating him or her to become ACE's 2013 Adult Learner of the Year. ACE will recognize the winner at its 96th Annual Meeting, Seizing Opportunity, to be held in San Diego, CA, March 8-11, 2014. Nominations are due by December 6, 2013.

ACE's Adult Learner of the Year Award recognizes a person who has benefited academically and professionally from making use of ACE's credit recommendations for workforce or military training. Award winners demonstrate:
Continued success in academic, professional, personal and community endeavors
Extraordinary achievement in his or her community or workplace while successfully             balancing the demands of family, career and education
Inspiration to others to set high lifelong learning goals
This year's Adult Learner of the Year will receive a $500 scholarship from ACE to continue his or her education.

Last year was the first year that there were two award winners: Bette Feldeisen, a plumbing supervisor and honors graduate, and Joshua John Young, a police officer and Army veteran. Learn more about the award and previous winners on the ACE website

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thursday, November 21, 2013

UT Knoxville makes this list

Of America's ugliest campuses.  Seems a bit harsh to me.  From Travel and Leisure.

America's Ugliest College Campuses
University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 
With a lack of green space and a road slicing the campus in half, the brick and concrete environs of the University of Tennessee could double as a skateboard park. The John C. Hodges Library is a notable eyesore. Not only was the original 1969 building unappealing, in 1987 more brick cascades were added, accentuating the squat proportions. Fortunately, any daytime dreariness is in stark contrast to night, when, according to one student on Unigo.com, “The campus is a wonderland, with all of the buildings lit up and the pedestrian walkway lined with gorgeous lamps.”

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I'd hate to be a public school teacher right now

No respect.  Outlandish expectations.  It reminds me of the tee shirt I saw recently: Those who can, teach. Those who can't, pass laws about teaching. From Liz Riggs, writing in The Atlantic.

Ingersoll extrapolated and then later confirmed that anywhere between 40 and 50 percent of teachers will leave the classroom within their first five years (that includes the nine and a half percent that leave before the end of their first year.) Certainly, all professions have turnover, and some shuffling out the door is good for bringing in young blood and fresh faces. But, turnover in teaching is about four percent higher than other professions. 
Approximately 15.7 percent of teachers leave their posts every year, and 40 percent of teachers who pursue undergraduate degrees in teaching never even enter the classroom at all. With teacher effectiveness a top priority of the education reform movement, the question remains: Why are all these teachers leaving—or not even entering the classroom in the first place? 
“One of the big reasons I quit was sort of intangible,” Ingersoll says. “But it’s very real: It’s just a lack of respect,” he says. “Teachers in schools do not call the shots. They have very little say. They’re told what to do; it’s a very disempowered line of work.” 
Other teachers—especially the younger ones—are also leaving the classroom for seemingly nebulous reasons. I spoke with nearly a dozen public and private school teachers and former teachers around the country. (I used pseudonyms for the teachers throughout this piece so that they could speak freely.) Many of them cited “personal reasons,” ranging from individual stress levels to work-life balance struggles. 
“We are held up to a really high standard for everything,” says Emma, a 26-year-old former teacher at a public school in Kansas who now works for a music education non-profit. “It stems from this sense that teachers aren’t real people, and the only thing that came close to [making me stay] was the kids.” 
In my interviews with teachers, the same issues continued to surface. In theory, the classroom hours aren’t bad and the summers are free. But, many young teachers soon realize they must do overwhelming amounts of after-hours work. They pour out emotional energy into their work, which breeds quick exhaustion. And they experience the frustrating uphill battle that comes along with teaching—particularly in low-performing schools.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

Call for proposals

Call for Proposals Deadline has been extended. 

Please submit by November 26th.  

Conference Tracks 
Presenters are requested to submit proposals for concurrent sessions for topics pertaining to adult and continuing higher education. Areas of focus include but are not limited to: 
• Stand By Your Brand: Marketing
• Tuning Into Professionalism: Leadership
• Breakthrough Performances: Best Practices, Non-Credit
• Putting on the Hits: Best Practices, Credit  
Guidelines for Concurrent Session Proposals: Concurrent sessions will be 45-minutes in length. To propose a concurrent session, please provide the following items of information in the format below:  
1. Name, Institution, Mailing Address, Telephone, Fax, E-mail for all presenters
2. Title of presentation.
3. Recommendation for Novice, Intermediate, Experienced, of All Audiences (Indicate One)
4. Abstract of presentation (70-80 words)
5. Brief biography of presenter(s)
6. One page double-spaced Presentation Summary, including pertinence to conference theme
and which conference track(s) presentation addresses.
7. Special AV equipment needs: indicate if you will be using overhead transparencies,
PowerPoint, or other presentation formats. Unless your presentation is on a flash drive, you
must provide your own laptop computer. A podium, microphone, and one flip chart with
pad and pens will be available in each concurrent session meeting room. 
Send proposals via email by November 26, 2013 as a Microsoft Word attachment to: Julie Shankle at Florida Institute of Technology, at jshankle@fit.edu. Those submitting proposals will be notified of the decision by December 10, 2013. 

Call for Session Presiders: 
Session presiders are needed to introduce presenters, to start and end the sessions on time, and to distribute 
and collect session evaluations. If you are available, please send an email indicating your availability to serve 
as a presider to Patti Spaniola at pspaniola@uwf.edu by November 26, 2013. 

This is about ROTC leaving Tennessee Tech

NOTE: This is an unfortunate byproduct of scheduling posts while off campus.  Both programs have gotten a two-year reprieve for their ROTC programs.

But the same thing is happening at ETSU.  From Alan Blinder, writing in The New York Times.

R.O.T.C. Making Cuts to Expand Recruiting - NYTimes.com
When Sarah Short arrived at Tennessee Technological University this summer, she had mapped out her four years of undergraduate study and well beyond: an affordable nursing degree and a commission as an Army officer. 
But months into her first semester, Ms. Short’s plans changed after the Army announced it would close Tennessee Tech’s 63-year-old Reserve Officers Training Corps program in 2015, two years before Ms. Short expected to finish her degree. 
“This is the only place I’ve ever wanted to go,” Ms. Short, 18, a first-generation college student from Murfreesboro, said last week. “It’s perfect for me — was perfect.” 
The abrupt news, delivered to Ms. Short and scores of other cadets here days into the government shutdown, was not tied to a partisan standoff in Washington. Instead, it was part of an Army effort to redirect its resources and money to areas where it wants to broaden its recruiting, including major cities. 
To underwrite the transformation, the Army chose to close R.O.T.C. programs at 13 universities, more than half of them in the South. Tennessee alone will lose R.O.T.C. offerings at three of its public universities, the most of any state.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

TACHE

Walking in Memphis.

At the TACHE Hospitality Suite


Mmmmmmm . . . doughnuts

I've only been to one of these, listed below, and it's rather well-known.  These are Food and Wine's choices.  We have Auntie Ruth's doughnuts (more commonly referred to as the Amish doughnuts) sold at our local farmer's market that I would put up against anyone's glazed varieties.

America's Best Doughnuts
Café du Monde; New Orleans, LA
Opened in 1862, this sprawling 24-hour café in the French Quarter attracts tourists and locals at all hours for dark-roast coffee spiced with chicory (which tempers the bitterness) and its divine beignets, served fresh-fried hot and dusted with powdered sugar. cafedumonde.com.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Getting ready for my presentation today

At the TACHE preconference for off-campus center administrators.
Here's some advice from the Dale Carnegie Blog I'll be following.  I just wish Dale could do the whole thing for me.

Most airplane difficulties occur at two critical points: take-off and landing. The same is often true of presentations. A strong opening will create additional confidence and is an opportunity to make an immediate positive first impression. 
Key Points: Get favorable attention quickly, Lead naturally into your presentation, Build goodwill, Create points of agreement. 
Techniques: Use an exhibit, Dramatize your ideas, Get participation, Cite points of agreement or common ground .
Avoid the apology. “How often we all have heard speakers begin by calling the attention of the audience to their lack of preparation or lack of ability. If you are not prepared, the audience will probably discover it without your assistance.”  —Dale Carnegie

TACHE Starts today


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Social notworking

Harvard, Stanford, and Johns Hopkins are 1-2-3 at engaging students through social media, according to studentadvisor.com.  The whole list can be found at the link below.  Vanderbilt is number 22.

Top 100 Social Media Colleges

Monday, November 11, 2013

I'm so old I still use email

Unfortunately, our students don't.  From Courtney Rubin, writing in The New York Times.

As a professor who favors pop quizzes, Cedrick May is used to grimaces from students caught unprepared. But a couple of years ago, in his class on early American literature at the University of Texas at Arlington, he said he noticed “horrible, pained looks” from the whole class when they saw the questions. 
He soon learned that the students did not know he had changed the reading assignment because they did not check their e-mail regularly, if at all. To the students, e-mail was as antiquated as the spellings “chuse” and “musick” in the works by Cotton Mather and Jonathan Edwards that they read on their electronic books. 
“Some of them didn’t even seem to know they had a college e-mail account,” Dr. May said. Nor were these wide-eyed freshmen. “This is considered a junior-level class, so they’d been around,” he said. 
That is when he added to his course syllabuses: “Students must check e-mail daily.” Dr. May said the university now recommends similar wording. 
So students prefer social media. So far, so 2005. But some professors do not want to “friend” students on Facebook (“I don’t want to learn things about them I can’t unlearn,” said Thomas Tierney, an associate professor of sociology at the College of Wooster in Ohio) or do not think it is their job to explore every possible medium a student might prefer to use at 2 a.m. to find out about a test later that day.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Its called the educational buffet

But I'd call it an educational smorgasbord.  Oh, wait. Aren't those the same things? Hmmmm.  When I think buffet I think huge portions of unlimited food and when I think smorgasbord I think wide variety of choices.  I bet there's a liguistic monograph in there somewhere.  

Connotations aside, I have to wonder what the role of continuing education will be when most of the students are nontraditional and patching together programs of study from all sorts of various providers? From The Chronicle of Higher Education.

When the filmmakers behind the animated summer blockbuster Monsters University needed inspiration for their fictional campus, they visited three of the nation's best-known colleges: Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California at Berkeley. 
Such name-brand campuses, having provided the backdrop for Hollywood productions, help shape our collective vision of college as a place where you go once in your life (often at age 18) and move through in a linear fashion over four years. 
But that straight pathway isn't the one taken by about half of the students enrolled in college today, an enrollment pattern that Clifford Adelman, a noted higher-education researcher, says dates back to at least the 1970s. Even so, we still call students "nontraditional" if they attend college later in life or part-time, or if they attend multiple institutions. 
Today's students are swirling through higher education more than ever before. They attend multiple institutions—sometimes at the same time—extend the time to graduation by taking off time between semesters, mix learning experiences like co-op programs or internships with traditional courses, and sign up for classes from alternative providers such as Coursera or edX, which offer free massive open online courses (MOOCs), or StraighterLine, which offers cheap introductory courses online. 
“I know that I’ve learned a lot in the last two and a half years,” says Ms. Yancey-Siegel, whether through work or online courses. “I do worry that my dream job will require a degree.”
Emily Stover DeRocco describes the plethora of choices for students these days as an "educational buffet," with the potential to reshape how we think of postsecondary education. "There are a huge number of options now for learning," says the assistant secretary of labor for employment and training in the George W. Bush administration, "and the nature of the workplace and occupations is changing so dramatically that thinking of college as one place, one time, is quickly becoming outdated."

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Where have all the non-traditional students gone?

Apparently, not to community colleges.  Priced out of the market, I'm afraid.  From James Orbesen, writing in The Atlantic.

All throughout graduate school, in preparation for teaching, I read the works of educators such as UCLA’s Mike Rose, about the magic of community colleges to empower the so-called “non-traditional” student: someone who doesn’t enroll in higher education directly out of secondary school, who falls outside the 18-24 demographic, or has professional or personal obligations that eclipse their academic pursuits. Rose writes that these students are seeking a “second chance.” 
According to his 2012 book Back to School, there are over 10 million students in community college with backgrounds as diverse and varying as imaginable. Rose tells the story of Henry, a big man in a wheelchair who had made some mistakes--a gangland encounter left him a paraplegic. Moving back in with his parents and deciding to pursue community college, Henry got to have “what he calls his rebirth.” 
With stories like this running through my head, I readied myself, read, and planned to teach to a class full of students deemed “non-traditional.” 
The reality of my classroom was far different from what I expected. All four of my first-year composition courses this fall semester were made up, almost entirely, of students directly from high school. In each class, only one or two were veterans or adults over the age of 24. Age and experience-wise, my students are traditional college students. 
My experience teaching younger students at community college is not unusual. More and more “traditional” students are attending community college today. One of the schools where I teach, the College of Lake County, has experienced a 30-percent increase in enrollments for students under 24 in the past decade. Traditionally aged students now hold a comfortable majority (almost 60 percent) of the overall student body. 
This trend isn’t limited to just where I teach. Research from the American Association of Community Colleges’ Christopher M. Mullin demonstrates that, nationally, community colleges are becoming younger: Between 1995 and 2009, the percentage of community college students ages 18 to 24 went up from 47 percent to 54 percent.