The Education Thought Process

Here's what I tend to see out there in the education space when it comes to lower socio-economic, mostly minority students:

let's get them to graduate high school --> that's not working so school is not for them

let's get them into college -- > that's not working so college is not for them

let's get them to graduate college--> that's not working so college degrees are not for everybody

let's get them to graduate college and get jobs with their degrees --> no one thinks this way


College Drop Out Solutions

What Can Stop Kids From Dropping Out: "...passing an introductory course in a student’s major isn’t as good a predictor of graduation as the actual letter grade. The student who earns a B in first-year political science has a 70 percent probability of graduating in that field, while a classmate who gets a C has only a 25 percent chance....Instead of waiting for undergraduates to show up, academic advisers reach out at the first hint of trouble — poor grades, spotty attendance or not registering for the right class — holding 50,000 meetings with students annually....Data showed that first-generation and low-income students were less likely to reach out for help from their professors, so the university hired upperclassmen as tutors....About a thousand Georgia State undergraduates were dropping out every semester because they couldn’t pay the tuition. When a closer look revealed that many were short just a few hundred dollars, the university started awarding small just-in-time grants and financial counseling....higher education institutions should receive public dollars based not only on how many students they enroll but also on how effectively they help students earn a degree"

People Can Change

Research by David S. Yeager, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin shows that a simple message can help high school students cope with social pressures and stress. 

"At the beginning of the school year, students participated in a reading and writing exercise intended to instill a basic, almost banal message to help them manage tension: People can change."

In an approach that looks a lot like that of Stanford's Greg Walton, the study had students read an article on how personality can change. then students were asked to read stories from high school seniors who described conflicts and how they were eventually able to manage them. Then students were asked to give advice to younger students.  

College's Dirty Secret

Here's the secret: not everybody graduates. In fact, "a college can have a graduation rate as low as 2 percent and still preserve its accreditation".

In the Hidden Side of the College Dream, the University of La Verne's vice provost Beatriz Gonzales explains: 

For these students, money is a huge roadblock to graduation.
“That is the No. 1 reason our students give when they drop out,” said Beatriz Gonzalez, vice provost for the University of La Verne.
Many of her students also work to support themselves or their families, she noted, so they tend to spend much less time on campus and therefore feel less attached to the university.
Another reason students drop out, Ms. Gonzalez said, is that they don’t feel sure they belong. For them, any setback or poor grade can make them question whether they should be in college in the first place.

More can be done and I believe technology can help. Text messages and chat can help colleges develop positive pro-active relationships with their students and help college students, including first generation students, feel like they belong.


5 Questions You Should Never Ask in an Interview

Job interviews. Internship interviews. Club interviews. Whatever you find yourself interviewing for there are some rules of the game that can seem obvious but in fact are not well known by college students.

You have likely heard that it's a good idea to come prepared to an interview with a few questions. That is true. But there are questions you shouldn't ask.

1. Don't ask a question you could have found the answer to with a Google search. For example, you wouldn't ask what a company does if it says right on the website what it does. Asking that question shows you didn't prepare for the interview and makes the interviewer concerned you don't care.  That being said, if you have clarifying questions or want to learn more you can always preface your question with "I read your website, but I'm still unclear about..." That way you communicate that you prepared but want to learn more.

2. Don't ask about salary, time off, or other benefits in an interview. These are question better left to after you have an offer. Asking these questions in an interview can signal to the company that you are more interested in what you will be paid than what you can contribute.

3. Don't ask how quickly you can be promoted. Most companies hiring for a role expect that you will be in that role for a period of time. Asking about promotion out of the gates makes it seem like you are not very interested in the role and/or are not willing to pay your dues.

4. Don't ask about work/life balance. While this may be very important to you, be careful that if you ask about it directly you will give the impression that you are not ready to work hard. Instead, ask a "day-in-the-life" question. For example, ask "what does a product manager's typical day look like here?" The answer to that question should give you more information about what the work/life balance looks like for that company and doesn't give the wrong impression.

5. Don't ask too many personal questions of the interviewer. While you do want to engage the interviewer and get him or her talking, you don't want to completely turn the tables and make him or her feel interrogated. Usually it's better to go into an interview with a well-crafted story about your experience and where you want to go next.  Then weave in questions naturally.

Remember that you are always telling someone who you are in an interview - from how you dress to the questions you ask or don't ask. Keep this article in mind and you'll do fine.

Healthy Lead Generation

Speaking of the environment, I found Health Leads to be an interesting organization. The founder, Rebecca Onie, is putting college kids to work helping hospital clinic visitors find the assistance most medical facilities are ill-equipped to provide. Things like food assistance and housing help. A number of the people Health Leads help are made sick by their environments - such as low income housing with lead paint. As our economy becomes more divided between the haves and the have-nots, these social issues are only going to grow and as a result, greatly affect the cost of healthcare in the U.S.