January 12, 2017

Two men get out of their cars at a rest stop on I-90 in New York. Both noticed that the American flag was badly torn and ready to detach due to the wind and weather. It had probably been like that for weeks, yet no one bothered to fix it.

Both worked together to make sure that it was properly removed, folded, and stored. One man is a military veteran, the other is not. One voted republican, and the other democrat.

And yet – look what happens when folks work together towards a common goal. When people who have been polarized, meet in the middle to take action and to take responsibility when others will not. To restore respect for our country and our flag. 

Funny how that works. I want more.

College Scorecard: Not everyone wins

February 20, 2013

The new College Scorecard helps prospective students compare schools’ graduation rates, student loan default rates, and median borrowing. Your campuses have probably been talking about strategic plans to address the economy, institutional growth, and the evolution of student learning. If any of this sounds new to you, it’s time to wake up. Seriously, WAKE UP!

In order for our industry to survive, we need to involve ourselves in the process. We need to start adapting and yielding results. Our work is about to be put under an even bigger microscope. I’m not an expert, but here are some of my predictions:

Accountability, front and center. Yeah, math is hard, but you’re going to need more data to support your work. No more skating by on high fives and smiling faces– it’s time to do a better job of honestly measuring impact and reach.

Your job is now the doctoral dissertation that won’t quit. Your department’s mission is the topic, and your work will be continually evaluated by your committee. Research, benchmark, measure, repeat. Quantitative, qualitative, you’ll need both to support your mission. Are you achieving what you originally intended? During your defense, each program and number will need to tie in with your department and institutional mission.

Show career centers the money!  Why do people go to college? For the experience, yes; but also to open doors and ultimately to get jobs. I think institutions are finally ready to invest more money into career education. But I also think this will come at a cost.

You deliver higher job placement rates, then we’ll talk about getting you more resources.

Career counselors are needing to spend more of their time off campus, building partnerships with employers and raising funds to keep their operations afloat. This takes away from the time they would normally spend with students, preparing them for the tough job search ahead of them. When you don’t have the resources to achieve all of these things, you may need to decide where to focus time– on jobs or on the students themselves.

A catch-22 of sorts.

Career centers as placement centers (again). Looking into my crystal ball, career centers will need to start reporting more detailed employment data, so it can be included on the Scorecard. I mean, if I were shopping for schools again, I’d want to know my odds of landing a job with a decent wage and a 401k.

Increased accountability can put more pressure on career counselors to “find jobs for students,” and less pressure on students to become proactive job seekers.  While more funding is certainly welcome, promising employment to prospective students is dangerous. Why? Because it relieves students of personal and career responsibility. Let me just tell you, the day we shift to a job placement model, is the day I resign and open my own bed and breakfast.

So how do you stack up… are you keeping score? Because in this new higher ed game, not everyone will get a trophy.

What are your predictions? How are your areas being impacted by strategic plans and the College Scorecard?

Thank You, Choices.

November 5, 2012

The first time I hit the polls, I was too young to cast a ballot. Dad brought me along to our local fire hall so he could do his civic duty. “Who are we voting for?” I asked. Dad pulled back the curtain and shooed me into the booth, keeping quiet as he filled in the bubbles. He never answered, so I knew that voting must be a secret ritual.

My first presidential vote was for Bill Clinton during a mock election at school. My parents said they were voting for him, so it seemed like a good idea. “It’s because we’re blue collar, middle class,” they’d say. Which I never understood, because my Dad didn’t even wear collared shirts. Regardless, I knew this voting thing was pretty important.

The 2012 election was the third time that I have legally voted for the President of the United States. It’s unreal to think that a century ago, I wouldn’t have been permitted to vote in a presidential election– or for anything, really. There is something invigorating about researching the candidates, weighing the options, and fighting for many Americans  who are still denied basic rights. I get chills when I think about the women who came before me, the ones who fought so I could vote. I am grateful for the sacrifices they made so their daughters and granddaughters would have the right to choose and to be part of something bigger than themselves.

There is no better way to give thanks for these pioneers than to VOTE on November 6th!

P.S. Also thankful that we’re one step closer to living in a world without negative campaign ads (at least for a little while!)