Category Archives: College Access

There IS Value In Creativity Despite What You Hear

Interesting read by Stephen Beal, President, California College of the Arts: What Is the Value of a College Degree?

An excerpt reads:

Interdisciplinary, collaborative, diverse, project-based, and inclusive — these terms describe the learning environment we strive to create. It also describes the evolving and expanding workplace our new graduates will enter. Despite gloomy news stories about the scarcity of jobs, creative people are in demand, and will continue to be. According to a recent study by the National Endowment for the Arts, jobs in the creative sector will increase overall by 11 percent in the next six years, with some careers projected to grow at a much higher rate, especially curators, interior designers, animators, illustrators, architects, and writers.

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A must read for anyone who has gone to college, wants to go to college or is paying for someone to go to college: The Cost of College Will Soar if Interest Rates Allowed to Double.

And the follow-up: Congress Votes To Stop Student Loan Interest Rates From Doubling

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Why Are You Going To College?

We spend years preparing our children to be competitive for college admission, but are we missing something else major? It seems the answer is “yes” – we are failing to prepare our children to persist and graduate from college.

It’s not new to those in the world of higher education, nonetheless, the sting doesn’t seem to subside each time I read something like is:

Although high school graduates are attending college in record numbers, four in 10 are not adequately prepared for the courseload that awaits them, and are thus forced into remedial classes when they start college. This fact contributes to a staggering number of students pursing a bachelor’s degree — 42 percent, according to the infographic — to drop out. This number is about 30 percent higher at the two-year or community college level.U.S. Graduation Rate, Unemployment Compared To Other Nations In Infographic

Those who have a vested interest talk about education all the time, we blog about it, advocate for better policies, programs and protocols, we watch documentaries, support innovative programs and yet the reality doesn’t seem to shift much from year to year. Though I’m intimately aware of the facts, as a college educated person, I, like many of my college-educated peers, sometimes forget the fact that not everyone goes to college.

In college-educated circles (or those presumed to be), one of the first questions is almost always, “where did you go to college” and in these same circles, people discus how a college degree is necessary in this global economy. But, are we the ones living in a bubble? I think sometimes, yes. There are plenty of jobs that need to be executed everyday that most college-educated people would never do, but certainly benefit from.

Truth be told (and this comes as no surprise), I do think the value of a college education can be transformative, but at the same time, I think it’s critically important for students to explore why a college education is important to them. Certainly many go to college “just because”, it’s not even a question, but others make a very deliberate decision to go and I wouldn’t be surprised if the latter group fights just a little harder to graduate because many weren’t always expected, allowed or able to go to college.

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Step One, Step One and Step One

As June comes to end, if you’re a rising senior, the fun is about to begin with the infamous short answer and personal statement. Come July, it’s time to officially start writing. Some of you have already taken many steps to ensure success, while others haven’t begun, but wherever you are in your process, consider this:


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Summer Image

What Is Your Teen Doing This Summer?


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Speaking of Teacher Evaluations

Yesterday I posted an article about the Stull Act and it got me thinking even more about how we evaluate teachers (something I actually think about often). It’s a topic much larger than this one post, but here are my thoughts…today.

Education, as a social and political issue should be relatively simple. It should receive funding to hire, retain and continually train good teachers because they in turn educate children who go on to be in leadership positions in all fields from science to politics to the military to education etc. Bad teachers should either receive professional development training or let go, as is the case in many other fields.

In theory, it actually makes a whole lot of sense to me for teachers to be evaluated, in part, on how their students do on standardized tests. As much as I’m not a huge supporter of standardized tests (based on my personal experience doing terribly on them from a young age), working in the world of college admissions, I understand the reality for a need to have universal benchmarks. I assume school systems seek something similar. It’s difficult to quantify anything without concrete numbers – so, in college admission, it’s difficult to compare students to each other without a universal benchmark. We do try, but all high school grades are not created equally, some teachers are great writers and write strong recommendations, while others cannot actually write well themselves, thus submitting sub par recommendations. Some students complete their college essays all on their own, whiles others have substantial resources to get support.

But, I am straying from the issue – teacher evaluations. Is it possible to teach for a test while facilitating a holistic educational experience? This fixation with standardized test scores as the goal does seem to defeat the purpose of a true education, which in my mind is a process of skill development, exploration, creativity, success and failure. I don’t believe a standardized test result can capture that. But, if not a standardized test, then what?

Let me be very clear, the issue is not nearly this simple and not ever having been a classroom teacher, my perspective is in essence from the ‘outside’. What are your thoughts? To evaluate based on standardized tests or not?


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June Tip #9: Perspective

The process of preparing for and applying to college (from choosing a high school for some, selecting the right high school courses, doing well, doing extracurricular activities, becoming a leader, choosing colleges to apply to etc, etc, etc) can be downright stressful. It feels as if a child’s entire future depends on making the right choices and if and when there is a misstep, it can be devastating.

Consider this perspective. Everyone will have a misstep. Parents who seemingly spend countless dollars doing everything “right” realize at some point, “my child still might not be accepted to (fill in the blank)” in the same way that parents who fear they didn’t or couldn’t do enough also fear “my child might not be accepted to (fill in the blank)”.

The reality is there are no guarantees in college admission and so the best you can do is make use of available resources, challenge yourself academically and personally, reflect and select a number of colleges you’d be happy at. It’s doesn’t take a lot of money (or any actually) to be a competitive applicant for college, instead it takes commitment, drive and perspective.

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