Wrapping Up

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To wrap up a semester’s worth of reading and learning is not easy.  However. I think GOT’s Chapters 7 & 8 did a pretty great job.  The whole point of this course was to show what a typical, American college student faces on the day-to-day.  What that student has in store for his or her future.  What that student’s children have in store.  And the truth is, no one knows!  We can make as many educated guesses are possible but there is no way to predict it with 100% accuracy.  However, as student affairs professionals we can look at everything, every aspect, and prepare ourselves for the future.  I know because I have taken this class and learned more about the typical American college student that I can successfully do my job. 

Thanks Dr. Latz for being one of the coolest, more dynamic teachers I have ever had.  You certainly made reading that much cooler!

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Since When Am I In The Girl Scouts Again?

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The idea of earning badges after completing online courses reminds me of the Boy/Girl Scouts.  I made it up to a Junior in the Girl Scouts and earned numerous badges for various things.  I wore that green vest like it was no one’s business!  However, the idea of doing something like that for higher education makes me upset.  Obviously students would not wear badges on their clothing to reflect the course work they have taken; however, they would put it on their resume, cover letter, etc. 

Personally, I think it is just another way for certain people to be kept out of the workforce.  No matter if it is online or in the classroom, certain groups are more likely to attend college than others.  Certain groups will have certain badges and others won’t have any at all.  How is that fair?

            I think I will have to do more research on this matter in order for me to really understand. 

All About the Benjamins

The articles this week bring up an interesting point.  College, though seen as an investment in one’s future, the loans used to pay for it are a huge financial burden.  I know plenty of students who are $100,000 in debt.  I know some who are $30,000 in debt.  No matter what the cost, some students have to face the reality of paying $900 each month in loan repayments alone, like Kelsey Griffith in the NYTimes article.  Personally, I do not have any debt because my parents saved money for my college fund.  I am very lucky and I thank my parents constantly for all that they have afforded me.  Now when I look at life after college I am not burdened with the though of loan repayments.

            The NYTimes article compares college debt to the housing crisis.  Lenders are allowing people to take on loans they cannot actually afford.  Students, for the most part, have no credit; therefore have no visible means to pay the loans back.  When the job market was good lenders could bank on students getting jobs right out of college so the repayment process wouldn’t be so harsh.  However, in recent years the market has been less than desirable.  This means many students are out of school, required to pay off a mountain of debt with no job.

            I asked my students about loans one day and one said this to me: “I’m not worried about loans because in 25 years I can default.  Twenty-five years is nothing.”  I was shocked!  What type of mentality is that?!  Do people not see how large of a chunk of life that will be?  Clearly this student is ignorant to the effects of debt on the future but is every student like that?  I think it would be fascinating to do a study to ascertain the answers to these questions.

Community Colleges

Watson’s article and Mellow’s Article on the Community College: 

            This text really resonated with me as I am currently researching the effect diverse populations have on the community college classroom.  Open access admission policies make it so anyone, regardless of past educational experience, can attend.  All you have to have is a GED or a high school diploma.  When I took community college courses there were students who barely could read and there were people who already had degrees from UW-Madison.  In particular, my math class was very much like this.  I seemed to be the only person who understood the math.  I could do it without the instructors help but still I never missed a class.  Watching her try to instruct the students always made me laugh because it was so easy.  I did not understand how they weren’t getting it.  But without fail, it would take her the entire class period to solve two problems.  I had almost finished my week’s worth of homework by then.

            I think I found two great sources for my community college Q&A paper!  Yay! 

Increasing Persistence… Again :)

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Placement testing

            Obviously there are numerous reasons for schools to use placement testing, right?  It is the best way to determine what level of writing or reading or math a student is prepared for, right?  Just like the ACT and SAT I’m not convinced that these tests are the best judge of a student’s level of intelligence.  See the articles I linked below if you do not believe me.

The second article that I found talks about college placement tests like ACCUPLACER and COMPASS.  The authors found “high ‘severe’ error rates using the placement test cutoffs. The severe error rate for English is 27 to 33 percent; i.e., three out of every ten students is severely misassigned.”  If placement tests are the best way to predict where a student belongs, why do they still fail so often?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/class-struggle/post/report-finds-2-of-4-tests-in-act-poor-predictors-of-college-success/2011/07/19/gIQAOiPFOI_blog.html

http://academiccommons.columbia.edu/catalog/ac:146486

Developmental Education

            I see the importance of remedial education, I do.  However, I think it has no place in the college setting.  High schools are supposed to be setting students up for success, not letting them skate by to graduation without having learned something.  I understand that teaching is a difficult profession but there is no reason our education system should be failing so many students! 

            In the case of college, I believe remedial education should only take place in the following situations: when a student is taking classes at a community college to get his or her GED or when a student returns to college after years of being in the workforce.  Otherwise students should at least have a base understanding of algebra.  They may not be very good at it, maybe math is not their thing, however, they should at least know enough about it to pass.  If not, your high school and pre-college preparatory institutions are the ones that failed you, not college.

Academic Advising

            I was thrilled to see this as a chapter within this book.  I want to be an academic advisor once this year is over.  I currently do my practicum over in academic advising at Ball State and I love it.  I also wholeheartedly believe that Academic Advising is a huge retainer.  All students who come into college see an academic advisor at orientation.  They assist with the planning of schedules, major selection, etc.  The advisor also serves as a resource that refers students to clubs, organizations and services available on campus that may be useful to that particular student.  This may be the only interaction a student has with staff at the university or college.  If it is not a positive experience, the student might not want to seek the help of other professionals and therefore become lost.  Students who do not find a niche or a place of their own on campus are much more likely to dropout. 

First-Year Transition

            Instead of talking about the text here, I would like to talk about my own first-year transition during my first year at UW.  I transferred in during spring semester in January of 2010.  I inquired about resources for transfer students but the only information I was given was for a club on campus solely for transfer students.  I went to a few meetings but did not feel particularly welcome so I stopped attending.  There was no transfer orientation, no transfer transition program, nothing.  Or maybe there was but no one knew enough to refer me to it.  Either way, I did not have access to any of these programs. 

            Often I feel like transfer students get the raw end of the deal, especially those who come in at semester.  At least if you transfer in the fall there are welcome week activities and things of that nature.  You can meet people there. 

            My experience in the cold month of January was that I did not matter.