Archive for the ‘college’ Category

ASM is at it again

November 18, 2009

That’s right, they are addressing a relevant student issue in what appears to be a competent way.

The Associated Students of Madison’s Affordable Textbook Campaign presented a resolution addressing campus textbook policies to the Faculty Senate’s University Committee Monday.

ATC made several recommendations to the committee. They suggested professors provide book lists at least one month before classes start, use new editions of textbooks only when necessary and become educated about alternative textbook options, such as open source and electronic options.

All of these are very good ideas, and well overdue. A couple of thoughts:

1. UW-Lacrosse has a rental system in place in which students pay, I believe, something like $75 at the beginning of the semester to rent all the books they need for that semester. I realize this isn’t a viable option for our entire campus, but why not try to get some funding to do this for huge gateway courses like Chem 103, etc. ? This would also help deal with the problem of publishers no longer publishing older editions. We would already have  as many books as needed, so we wouldn’t have to go back to buy more in large numbers.

2. Bring the fight to freshman. If this business about getting book lists earlier is going to have any effect, people have to know how this helps them. Freshman come in and the bookstore is easy and obvious. After a few years some students break out of this habit, but most do not. An aspect aimed at teaching incoming freshman, or more importantly their parents, how to find cheap textbooks online, and how much less expensive they are, would be huge.

Any thoughts?

Community colleges get support from UW profs

July 20, 2009

A good article in the Cap Times by Todd Finkelmeyer (he usually does good ones) details the work done by two UW professors, Sara Goldrick-Rab and Douglas Harris, to support a massive national investment in community colleges.

“Over the last two centuries, the United States created an advantage over other countries by helping our citizens attain formal education, generating an able workforce and technological advancement,” states the report, which was also co-written by Christopher Mazzeo of the Consortium on Chicago School Research and Gregory Kienzl of the Institute for Higher Education Policy. “Yet U.S. higher educational attainment, long considered a ladder to economic and social success, has stalled and now reinforces inequalities between rich and poor America.”

Although the economic crisis certainly hasn’t deterred increased spending in D.C., it has distracted the country from its already-pressing education crisis. The price of college has risen so drastically in recent years that people seem to have given up trying to explain the increasing costs. As more families are unwilling or unable to invest in a four year education for their children, attention is turning to community and technical colleges. Nevertheless, students at those institutions are similarly burdened by debt and many are forced to drop out because of unacceptably high costs. This is why community colleges should be central to any big education policy.

Barack Obama showed a willingness to engage the issue on the campaign trail with his “American Opportunity Tax Credit,” which would grant families $4000 a year for tuition. That would make many community colleges virtually free, as they should be. It would also make in-state tuition at UW-Madison significantly more affordable.

Now his plan has changed – it targets community colleges even more aggressively.

On July 14, Obama unveiled the American Graduation Initiative, a 10-year, $12 billion plan that mirrors much of the Brookings report in calling for a significant increase in investment in community colleges.

Interesting point here that could signal closer relations between UW and MATC: 

Radomski, who is also a member of Madison Area Technical College’s District Board, said “community colleges don’t have the infrastructure to prove effectiveness. So what this means, and I’m being self-interested a little bit, is that research universities have a prime opportunity to collaborate with the community colleges. This is very exciting.
Good to see that education hasn’t been forgotten. I prioritize health care above higher education because I see it as a fundamental human right. However, education is a much more exciting issue. Imagine the education investment that could have been used from the money that went into the Iraq War. Yes, it is a cliché, but I would like to remind you that people in Europe go to college for free. We don’t have to adopt their system – there are still plenty of people who can afford to cough up some bucks for college courses. However, talking to Jason Joyce (UW ’92) the other day, he commented that when he was editing the Badger Herald, it was still possible to work your way through college.
Hold a job, go to classes, graduate, and not have to work for the devil to pay off loans. We can go back to those days. Hopefully our kids will experience it. Because I’m sure as hell not going to make enough money to pay for their tuition.

A must read for every college student

July 5, 2009

For some of us, this New York Times article hits VERY close to home.

School’s out for summer 2009, and instead of getting a jump on the boundless futures that parents and colleges always promised them, students this year are receiving a reality check.

The well-paying summer jobs that in previous years seemed like a birthright have grown scarce, and pre-professional internships are disappearing as companies cut back across the board. Recession-strapped parents don’t always have the means or will to bankroll starter apartments or art tours of Tuscany.

Numbers provide the backdrop to the story — not just the grimly familiar national unemployment rate, 9.5 percent in June, but the even scarier, less publicized unemployment figure for 16- to 19-year-olds, which has hit 24 percent, up from 16.1 percent two years ago.

Next article: Unemployed college students turn to blogging.