Archive for the ‘College’ Category

Service of Discoveries

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

DiscoverySharing a few things I’ve learned or noticed within the last week.

Shoe Shine

The Hudson Yards subway station on the number 7 extension over by the Javits Center is buried deep underground so to reach the street you take Subway escalator Hudson Yardstwo very steep escalators. On either side of the moving stairs are one-inch brushes. If I had on leather shoes–even better with shoe polish handy–I could shine them simply by sidling to the left and then right of the step. I wouldn’t try it on the way down–it’s too steep. No doubt the brushes are on all the subway escalators…but they are not new and clean nor is the ride as long as at Hudson Yards.

If You Have to Ask You Can’t Afford It

I received a request to become a member of an internationally recognized NYC museum on an expensive, color 20″ x 6″ card folded in half. Nowhere were membership rates listed. “Is this the latest trend in fundraising?” I thought as I tossed the card, “or a mistake?” Or perhaps they don’t want members who care about cost.

Oh?

GraduationI graduated from the College of Liberal Arts [CLA] of an east coast University and discovered, when filling out a personal information update, that CLA no longer exists.  It’s called the College of Arts & Sciences these days. I mentioned this to a savvy friend and fellow graduate who keeps up on all things and she wasn’t aware of the change. Suggested to the alumni office that they make clear, when asking “which college did you attend?” that they add “formerly CLA” opposite the arts and sciences reference.

Have you made any surprising discoveries lately?

please join us

Service of What’s in a Name

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

Hello my name is

You may have read that a state judge ruled that Paul Smith’s College in the Adirondacks could not change or alter its name to Joan Weill-Paul Smith’s College. The 1,000 student private college hoped to overturn a 1937 bequest by the son of Paul Smith which stipulated that the college would “be ever known” as Paul Smith’s College of Arts and Sciences. Mrs. Weill, the wife of financier Sanford Weill, was planning to pledge $20 million to secure the name change. She knew about the college because she’d owned a home nearby. 

Paul Smith's College of Arts and Sciences

Paul Smith’s College of Arts and Sciences

“While the college has argued that the stipulation ‘nearly fatally impedes the ability of Paul Smith’s to seek large gifts from a single donor in order to make the investments it needs to remain viable,’ Judge John T. Ellis of State Supreme Court in Franklin County ruled that Weill’s pledge did not give the college license to violate the provision in its founder’s will enshrining his father’s name on the college in perpetuity,” according to Philanthropy News Digest.

“Disputes over naming rights have become more common in recent years and include the transformation of Avery Fisher Hall in New York City into David Geffen Hall and the renaming of the Miami Art Museum as the Jorge M. Pérez Art Museum of Miami-Dade. ‘This decision is a big, big deal,’ said Doug White, an adviser to philanthropists and nonprofits who teaches at Columbia University. ‘It’ll help define what the court system thinks of the idea of changing the name of an organization like this.'” 

Maimonides

Maimonides

According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, this year only nine of the top 100 gifts from Americans have been anonymous so Mrs. Weill is in good company. Anonymity, wrote Lorne Manly in “Privacy Matters” in The New York Times, is the choice of those who don’t want to be bothered by others looking for support, don’t like publicity or who believe, as did Maimonides, that such obscurity is a good thing–sixth in the eight levels of giving.

I wrote in an earlier post that promoting a high profile person who gives a large donation helps draw in additional money far better these days than a heart-wrenching story. For this reason, do you believe that the law should be changed to help a small institution like Paul Smith’s modify its name? If your college had a new name, would you care? Is holding to some 78 year old bequest ridiculous? If you were Mrs. Weill would you give the money even if the college can’t modify its name?

Changes coming

Service of Student Coddling on Steroids

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

 

Application form 3

NPR’s coverage of Goucher College’s innovative application process was an eye-opener and not in a good way.

Juana Summers, in “Lights, Camera College? Goucher College Introduces Video Applications,” wrote “Goucher College, a liberal arts school in Baltimore, is offering students the opportunity to skip submitting standardized SAT and ACT scores, as well as the traditional college application packet that includes a transcript, letters of recommendation and essays. Instead, students can apply with a self-produced, two-minute video that explains how they see themselves thriving at Goucher, and why they want to go there. Students are also asked to submit two ‘works of scholarship.'”

She quotes the new president, José Bowen: “The college admissions process is broken. The Application form 1application process is complicated; it’s stressful.”

Summers reports that the president hopes to increase “diverstiy of thought” and, she posits, add to the number of applicants and the student body. She quoted Cornell professor and former Tufts dean of arts and sciences, Robert Sternberg, who agrees with the concept of “overhauling a college admissions process that he says lacks creativity and doesn’t serve students well…But, he warned, video applications might backfire for some students. ‘It puts an emphasis on how well you perform for a camera,’ says Sternberg, the author of College Admissions for the 21st Century. ‘Unfortunately, people can’t help things like interpersonal skills and attractiveness.'”

Will cushioning students’ path to college entrance help them in equally stressful internship and job searches and the inevitable knocks that life brings or is keeping a college open at all costs more important?  Is the idea for a college to gather and educate the brightest students or to get any old student who can pay the freight or collect enough scholarships to do so? Is the goal to reinforce the easy out when successful people work hard? Will lowering the bar help students and a college in the long run?

Linus

 

 

Service of When it Works it’s a Beautiful Thing: Baruch P.R. Helps Turn a Lemon into Champagne

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Baruch Coillege 060913

Large organizations that listen to their P.R. counsel can often work magic when things go wrong, which, of course, they inevitably do. That is what just happened at Baruch College, where I’m involved in a mentoring program. Baruch is part of the massive and complex City University of New York system, one of the most extensive and decentralized educational institutions in the state.

Baruch in ManhattanBaruch, as do other city and state colleges, charges students who are New York residents a significantly lower tuition than it does those from out-of-state. For some reason it had been charging tuition for a recently admitted student, Matthew Levy, a lifelong New Yorker, at the “out-of-state” rate. When Baruch caught the error, it informed Levy that in future he would be billed at the lower “residents” rate.

Not unreasonably, however, he decided to seek reimbursement of the approximately $7,000 he had overpaid and approached a clerk in the school’s admissions department to help him. The clerk told him: “Normally, if you paid, you don’t get your money back,” but that he could file an appeal, including as evidence of his New York State residency, copies of his driver’s license and voter registration card.

Matthew, no fool, went one step further. He also wrote to David Segal “The Haggler” in the Sunday New York Times Business Section and asked for his help to expedite the refund. 

Christina Latouf, Baruch VP Communications

Christina Latouf, Baruch VP Communications

Segal wrote: “The Haggler contacted Christina Latouf, a spokeswoman for the college. She needed a day or two to figure out what had happened, and then she wrote something rather remarkable. In an e-mail, she said that the school not only took responsibility for stumbling blocks inserted between Mr. Levy and his refund, but also that changes would be made so that such errors don’t happen again. Those changes include working with the City University of New York — of which Baruch is part — to review out-of-state designations.

“‘Further, if a student’s initial documentation indicates they have always been a New York State resident, we will no longer request additional documentation,’ Ms. Latouf wrote.”

Baruch StudentsSegal praised Baruch for changing its system: “Do you hear that, dear readers? It is the sweet sound of modest reform, a noise as rare as the quack of the Scaly Sided Merganser.”

He continued: “‘At the heart of this case was an incorrect coding designation,’ Ms. Latouf wrote, in conclusion. ‘While we have put some measures in place (such as the one that triggered our initial outreach to Matthew), we will build and utilize new technologies to put more safeguards in place, and train staff to assure coding is accurate.’

Baruch students 2“True, soothing and conciliatory words are cheap. But Baruch is off to a good start. Two days after the Haggler called, the school contacted Mr. Levy, and that same afternoon he e-mailed the Haggler a photograph of a document waiting for him at the bursar’s office: a check for $7,245.”

I’ve met Latouf, who is Vice President for Communications, External Relations and Economic Development at Baruch, and dashed off a note to congratulate her. She responded: “It was a lot of work, but we’re all very pleased to have been able to turn a potentially negative story into a positive.” 

She did more than that: She showed the world what a well-oiled organization she works for. Who couldn’t admire the speed of the reform? Baruch includes 1,500 full time academic and administrative staff and more than 17,000 students. That someone in the administration listened to the communications VP and agreed to and implemented changes at warp speed shows trust. Like The Haggler, I think this is unusual and laudable.

Do you?

Baruch Logo

Service of Upside-Down

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

 

Upside down

 

Thanks for the Memories

Used to be that people with the best manners often came from the most advantaged homes but it seems that the privileged are no longer those who regularly write thank you notes, hold doors or act in thoughtful, courteous ways nor do their offspring. I’ll spare you the examples as no doubt you have many of your own.

No Thanks

I mentioned this topic to a colleague whose daughter just graduated from college. She agreed and added another twist: Many of the kids whose parents could cover college costs have no yen to go so they don’t.

You’re Strange; You’re Hired

Jack in the box

Odd behavior was the kiss of death for most careers but not for our politicians. Like Jack-in-the-boxes, they keep popping up and winning, the weirder the better.

 

Cheat and Win

People whose fraudulent mismanagement and insider trading garner headlines are rewarded. The former receive huge bonuses and the latter keep misbegotten gains and feel no more than a tap on the finger. Both garner front row seats at major charity events and photos in the society pages.

What’s the cause of these turns of events? What’s happened? Are we better off? Are these examples the new normal and those who aren’t comfortable are the ones who are upside down?

 what happened

 

 

Service of MOOCs

Monday, February 4th, 2013

univwisconsin

I first heard about massive open online courses–or MOOCs–when I read Caroline Porter’s Wall Street Journal article, “College Degree, No Class Time Required.” Since then what Thomas Friedman called a revolution to hit universities in a New York Times op-ed piece a few days later has hit the mass media.

Porter wrote: “Now, educators in Wisconsin are offering a possible solution by decoupling the learning part of education from student assessment and degree-granting.

“Wisconsin officials tout the UW Flexible Option as the first to offer multiple, competency-based bachelor’s degrees from a public university system. Officials encourage students to complete their education independently through online courses, which have grown in popularity through efforts by companies such as Coursera, edX and Udacity.”

Scott Walker, Wisconsin Governor

Scott Walker, Wisconsin Governor

The state’s governor, Scott Walker, expects to join the program. He never finished earning his degree.

The purpose of the program is to strengthen the state’s workforce according to a university spokesperson. As noted in the title of the article, you can get a degree that’s equal to one earned in a traditional four year program without spending a moment in a classroom.

Time and money saved are obvious benefits as are recognition of bits of courses taken over a lifetime in addition to validation of on the job training. David Lando is the 41 year old whom Porter describes in the program who will take hours of tests at home so as to finish a degree “based on knowledge–not just class time or credits,” she wrote.

third-worldWell beyond Michigan residents, reporters address the impact of MOOCs from the fact that a professor who previously reached a few thousand students over a lifetime can potentially teach hundreds of thousands around the world in a semester. With a computer and facilitator, students in the poorest countries will take part in learning from recognized professors.

Porter quotes professors who warn about potentially watering down degrees. Do you think this might happen? Will traditional college degrees continue to be given to teens/20-somethings to give them a leg up so as to enter the workforce with knowledge? Or, will a college education become a dinosaur, a parking lot for the children of the one percent? Does the world benefit now that millions [who understand English] can benefit from learning from the best ? Should performance, rather than a degree, once again determine who is eligible for certain jobs as it was for the Wisconsin Governor?

watering-down

Service of The Sky’s the Limit

Monday, January 7th, 2013

images1

Last week NYC School Chancellor Dennis Walcott spoke with morning talk show host John Gambling, WOR Radio, about the looming public school bus strike. The city pays almost $7,000 a year to transport each of 150,000 children by yellow bus compared to approximately $3,000 in LA, which claims the next highest public school transportation cost.

yellowscoolbusNews4 New York in “NYC Preps for Possible School Bus Driver Strike” reported: “The city has not used significant competitive bidding for new yellow bus contracts since 1979, according to [Mayor] Bloomberg and Walcott.”

Regarding another example of excess, I saved The Wall Street Journal‘s “Mansion” section from early December because the headline “Resort Living Comes to Campus” caught my eye. In light of the struggles of so many students to pay for college and the debts they incur, I marveled at Dawn Wotapka’s headline.

bubblebathWotapka wrote: “Welcome to University House, a $65 million private college dormitory that just opened near the University of Central Florida. Built by Inland American Communities Group, University House is one of the latest upscale communities sprouting up in college towns-including East Lansing, Mich., Tempe, Ariz., College Station, Texas, and others. Developers say that colleges provide a steady stream of new customers every year, and that students-and their parents-are willing to pay for luxury amenities.”

These include custom furniture, walk-in closets, private bedrooms and bathrooms and shared kitchens with granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances. A one-bedroom solo costs nearly $1,000/month.

Wotapka addresses the financial risks for the developers of the luxury dorms as more and more enter the field and the economy continues to drone but I’m more interested in the concept and the fact that it worked for even 10 minutes in this or any other economy.

Who sends children to college to live in luxury’s lap? I’m sure that the University of Central Florida is a fine school but wouldn’t whoever pays the bill be better off covering the tuition in an even better school than forking over money for fancy living accommodations? Is learning no longer the point or is it more important for precious offspring to take a bubble bath for as long as they want [which was what one student raved about her apartment setup].

Nothing’s too good for our children but for less than $7,000/year per student [imagine the money to be made for a family of four kids and/or several neighbors], I bet the New York City school system could find a taxi service or retired neighbor willing to drive children back and forth to school and put the money where it belongs–better teachers. Further, I’m ashamed at the success, even if only fleeting, of the luxury dorms. Your thoughts?

 lapofluxury

Service of College

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

college

To promote the children’s book winners of the 2011 Christopher Awards, I was looking for mommy bloggers who cover books on an electronic database. Of 570 mothers who post about issues relating to children, families and parenting, there were 14 identified with books. This analysis is unscientific. It could mean that bloggers didn’t check off “books” or respond in any way to the list collector’s query for details. Still, there were generous numbers of bloggers associated with new products, arts and crafts and other suitable subjects.

Nevertheless, my mind jumped to two articles I read last week: Caleb Crain’s New York Times book review, “Lost in the Meritocracy,” about Professor X’s “In the Basement of the Ivory Tower” and Daniel B. Smith’s New York Magazine article, “The University Has No Clothes.”

Before I continue, I remind you that I am a volunteer director of a mentoring program for graduate students, for years have been a mentor to college and grad students and as a foundation board member I direct development for programs and scholarships for college and grad students in the communications  industry. 

Back to the articles. Crain wrote that report-card-2Professor X makes a range of points but a salient one was “What grade does one give a college student who progresses from a 6th-to a 10th-grade level?” Crain notes: “Professor X can be caustic about the euphemism and somewhat willed optimism that sometimes befog discussion of how to teach unprepared students. To relieve his and his students’ unhappiness, he proposes that employers stop demanding unnecessary degrees: a laudable suggestion, unlikely to be realized until the degree glut has dried up.”

And then there’s the cost. Wrote Crain: “In 1940, there were 1.5 million college students in America; in 2006, there were 20.5 million. In X’s opinion, a glut of degrees has led to a spurious inflation of the credentials required for many jobs. Tuitions are rising, and two-thirds of college graduates now leave school with debt, owing on average about $24,000. A four-year degree is said to increase wages about $450,000 over the course of a lifetime, but X doubts the real value of degrees further down on the hierarchy of prestige.”

In his New York Magazine article, Smith focuses on two college-educated successful men leading what he calls the “anti-college crusade.” According to Smith, James Altucher, father of two girls, a finance writer and venture capitalist thinks “higher education is nothing less than an institutionalized scam-college graduates hire only college graduates, creating a closed system that permits schools to charge exorbitant ­prices and forces students to take on crippling debt.” Smith quotes Altucher:  “‘The cost of college in the past 30 years has gone up tenfold. Health care has only gone up sixfold, and inflation has only gone up threefold. Not only is it a scam, but the college presidents know it. That’s why they keep raising tuition.'”

college-sportsThe second anti-college crusader in Smith’s article, Peter Thiel, was the first Facebook angel and a PayPal founder. Smith wrote that he “contends that American colleges have transformed from rigorous scholarly communities into corporate-minded youth resorts, where some presidents command salaries of more than $1 million and competition centers on outdoing one another in acquiring high-end amenities (duplex-apartment dormitories, $70 million gyms).” Thiel thinks that middle class parents consider a college education as an insurance policy that ensures that their children remain in the middle class.

According to Smith, Altucher said his goal was to reduce demand and therefore tuition cost. Theil’s mission was similar, backed by a fellowship he’s funding in a program he’s calling 20 Under 20. The winners get both $100,000 each and mentorships with Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. They must also stay out of college for two years.

Do you think that the pictures painted by Professor X, Altucher and Theil are dire, bleak and wrong or spot-on? Should employers require college degrees for most jobs? Do you see a connection between the exorbitant cost of college, countless students unprepared for university-level work, crippling debt resulting from four years of college and most mommy bloggers covering every topic under the sun but books?

 kids-and-books

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