Insights Into Class Size, Degrees, And Financial Aid – College Admissions

Many students and parents are interested in the classroom experience beyond the name of a brand-name university. Changes in degrees issued also gives some insight into how universities are thinking about class growth over time and degree completion. In addition, financial aid is an area with a lot of change at these top universities. By using data and historical analysis, we can parse together trends at several schools which can hint towards the future.

We can start with Harvard University as an example school in this post. By using a variety of OIR, CDS, and other datasets, we have developed a series of charts to get to some conclusions.

Class Size

Harvard’s class size has actually been slightly shrinking in the past five years. So in addition to a plummeting acceptance rate, the actual size of the freshman class has shrunk about 2%. We believe this is negligible but it does prove one thing – Harvard is very focused on the classroom experience and is not looking to stuff their classrooms for the sake of tuition.

The other aspect of class size is the distribution of classes across the university. Are most classes 1-9 students or something more? At Harvard, it appears as if there has been a trend toward larger class, particularly in the 20-29 student range. Still, the vast majority of classes (~40%) are 1-9 students.

Combining this insight with the above, it looks like Harvard’s overall class size is getting smaller but their average class size is getting bigger. So Harvard is creating a tighter community with larger classes.

Taking into account the different types of majors can give us a hint into which classes are smaller at Harvard.

Degrees Conferred

The majority of majors in 2013 at Harvard were in the social sciences field. This means that the smaller classes are likely to be in the social sciences, although there is not a strict correlation. Biology is a significant part of degrees conferred (likely pre-medical students).

Financial Aid

The final piece of analysis in this article will be around financial aid at Harvard. As Harvard and Stanford compete on need-based financial aid, it looks like the average need-based aid has actually increased 15% in the past 5 years. That is a significant jump, but qualification for aid varies at each school and in each parent’s situation. Stanford has publically announced that they are covering tuition for families with incomes below $125,000, meaning that Harvard is likely similar.

Merit scholarship at Harvard is a different story, but not one that is unanimous across all universities. Only a handful of students, usually less than 10, are awarded this aid each year. It has been increasing each year but the percentage number is well below 1% of the class.

In this article we focused on class size, degree trends, and financial aid. We chose Harvard as one university to demonstrate the trends across these three key areas for college admissions.

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Part 2: College Admissions Focus – Harvard University

Harvard University has long stood on a pedestal as one of the nation’s oldest and most revered colleges. It has become exponentially difficult to get accepted at the undergraduate level, which contributes to the aura around the school. Over the past month, we have conducted detailed analysis on the school to understand statistical trends over time. These trends help us predict the future or at least guide students and parents in the college admissions process. In this article, we will take a deep dive into Harvard University.

Application Requirements

First we will start with the basics. It costs $75 to apply to Harvard and there are two rounds: restricted early action and regular decision. Restricted early action means you can apply early and get accepted early without any obligation to attend. But it also means you cannot apply to other early programs. Regular decision is the same but due later. Transfer applications are for students at 2-year colleges or other 4-year institutions looking to go to Harvard.

Below is a table for reference:

Acceptance Rate and Yield

The acceptance rate at Harvard has gone down exponentially in the past 5 years. Due to the reintroduction of the restricted early action program in 2011, we see that Harvard has dipped below 6.0%. Conversely, the yield has increased significantly at the same time. Yield is the ratio of offers of admission to those that accept the offer. This trend is precisely what universities want – more applications and a better matching system where the university selects students who are 80% likely to accept the offer.

Student Life

Harvard is actually reducing class size on average over time. The graph below shows that classes, on average across the university, have about 6.5 students. This is down from around 7.0 students in 2010. This might not seem like a big drop, but when you consider the percentage drop of nearly 10% in 5 years, it looks like a concerted effort from Harvard. Looking at trends like this across universities can yield insights for students looking for smaller class environments. Harvard is definitely among that cohort.

There are obvious exceptions like introductory science and math courses, and there are also probably outliers like higher-level liberal arts classes with 1 or 2 students. The average, however, is telling.

We are also including a quick distribution of the class size in a histogram-like analysis. From these pie graphs, we can actually see that class distribution is really focused in the less than 19 students per class sections.


Harvard is becoming slightly more diverse over time. We can see that the number of students who do not declare a race has significantly decreased over time, and the number of Asian students has risen, but not dramatically. It seems like the number of international students has also risen over time, as well as Hispanic/Latino.

Financial Aid

The big takeaways from financial aid for Harvard are that the average package is increasing of need-based aid, but the number of students who receive merit-based scholarship has dramatically reduced since the 1990’s. Harvard, in an effort to match similar universities like Stanford, is covering 100% of need-based aid, but need is subjective. Stanford recently defined it as $100,000 income per year.

This second graph shows a telling trend – the number of students borrowing has dramatically decreased by 10% since 2012. This means that students in the middle – those that are not fully covered by need-based aid and those that cannot pay over $250,000 for a college education, are getting squeeze. The rise in international applications, who normally pay full fees, also helps to explain this trend.

In this article, we review many of the key features of Harvard University’s data – application data, acceptance data, student life, demographics, and financial aid. This is the very first part of our analysis on college admissions and we look forward to diving deeper into this data by looking at derivative statistics and ratios that we are inventing like the Squeeze Ratio – the ratio of applicants who applied/applications that enrolled.

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BS/MD Programs: Visions For Acceptance

By Pooja and Ishan

The Synocate Pyramid is a mental model for college admission – at the base is academics, in the middle is activites, and at the top is vision. We are often asked how the regular college admissions process translates to admissions to BS/MD or BA/MD programs (also known as “direct medical programs”). The Synocate Pyramid still holds, but the importance of vision (also thought of as “passion” or “maturity”) is even greater, because these programs are essentially evaluating you not just as a prospective undergraduate student, but also as a prospective medical student, all at the young age of 18.

Because vision is so important, this article will break it down for you by giving you examples of student visions and how the students channeled their visions into concrete activities that they could talk about on their college applications. As you can see in the examples below, your vision for your career in medicine does not have to be limited to the basic sciences – visions can range from policy and debate to engineering and beyond.

1) Health Policy

Student A’s dream was to not only become a physician, but also a policy expert who could direct government policy and public priorities to achieve better community health. She was first inspired to pursue this path when she watched the surgeon general speak on TV. To work towards this vision, she:

1. Joined policy debate at her school & actively participated in local and national competitions
2. Emailed professors in health policy at local universities and colleges, to ask for shadowing and research opportunities
3. Founded an organization at her school aimed at raising community awareness for various health issues and engendering public support to fix them
4. Given her interest in global health, her club partnered with organizations such as End7 to help fundraise and teach people about global issues in healthcare

Her demonstrated commitment to health policy and her outspoken leadership for issues she was passionate about truly demonstrated her vision, and she was accepted to 3 BS/MD programs.

2) Basic Science & Research

Student B’s dream was to become a physician-scientist. She had gotten involved in research early on, by participating in her school science fairs. Because she loved research, she wanted to incorporate this passion into her desire to become a doctor. To build on this vision, she:

1. Contacted professors at local colleges and universities who were doing research in fields she was interested in, such as biochemistry and microbiology.
2. By doing this early in 10th grade she was able to work on the project for three years, eventually becoming the co-author of a paper by her senior year

This demonstrated interest in research really helped her vision to shine through and made her a very mature and impressive BS/MD candidate. She was admitted to 5 BS/MD programs.

3) Medical Devices

Student C’s academic interests lay in engineering, but he also wanted to be able to translate devices that he built directly into improved patient care. His interest in engineering came from her time spent on his school’s robotics team since fourth grade. His interest in medicine came from hospital volunteering that he did as part of his school’s National Junior Honor Society. To merge his two passions, he:

1. Took up a NASA internship in high school, which focused on medical devices for cancer therapy
2. Joined his school’s National Technical Honor Society
3. Participated in engineering camps and competitions at universities across the nation, taking up projects that were specifically focused in medical devices.

His innovation and engineering skill was beautifully catalogued through his internships and projects, which helped him to present a cohesive story of his vision and earned him a spot at 3 prestigious BS/MD programs.

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Expanding Access To College Isn't Enough. Students Need To Graduate

Last month, as I was preparing to give a commencement address to the 2016 graduates of Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies, I found myself reflecting on the challenges and importance of completing their studies.

My mother was the first in her family to graduate from college, and although my father never went to college himself, both of my parents valued education immensely and instilled in me a similar passion for learning. They were voracious readers, spirited debaters and always doers, and they made sure their children went to school and studied hard. My own education, at my high school in London and then at Oxford and Stanford Universities, changed my life.

When I graduated, it was a big step for me and my career. But now, years later, I think about the significance not graduating has for students and for America.

Investing in yourself

College remains, for those who graduate, the best possible investment! As the accompanying chart shows, the hourly earnings wage gap continues to widen over time between those with less education and those with more [EdSource[]].

But earning money is only one easily observed benefit of a college degree. Overall, college graduates are less likely to be unemployed [U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics[]], they are more likely to vote [The College Board[]], and they report having better mental health [Gallup[]].

So, given the advantages, why is there still debate about the return on investing in a college degree?

Well, just 53 percent of students graduate from a four-year college within six years. For two-year public institutions, the completion rate is even worse – just 38 percent. In light of these disappointing completion rates, why is so much of the focus on increasing access to higher education when the real story is that too many students don’t make it through?

And of course, many of those who fail to graduate suffer the burden of carrying debt and having no credential or enhanced earning power. They are actually punished for failing to graduate and we know that the default rate in this group is a staggering 17 percent.

I’d like to shift the conversation to how we might best ensure students graduate. Only once we’ve established better ways to graduate our students should we turn our full attention to expanding their numbers.

One pace does not fit all. And that’s okay.

We all start with a different base of knowledge, and it’s never been optimal to have one-size-fits-all classes. Given that today’s college students come from increasingly diverse backgrounds, and considering the general lack of uniformity in what level of education a high school diploma really reflects, it is ever more important that we help students – and the faculty who are so critical to their success – optimize learning at an individual level.

There are significant challenges to overcome. Shockingly, over half of the students at two-year schools (and 20 percent of the students entering four-year undergraduate programs) need some sort of remediation right from the start – at an estimated cost of nearly $7 billion a year – merely to try to make good the deficiencies of the K12 system. Unfortunately, 80 percent of these students don’t successfully complete their remediation. This is a devastating outcome for students, but also for colleges and the country – it creates unnecessary churn for the colleges and forces them into patterns of recruiting new students to replace the ones who drop out.
Thankfully, there are solutions. Personalized instruction (in the form of tutoring, for example) has long been understood to be one of the most effective learning formats, and technology has increasingly helped to make personalized instruction more widely available.
Our own studies show that students using technologies designed to personalize the learning experience get better grades and have greater success completing their courses. And instructors spend a whole lot less time on administrative tasks and more time on active learning experiences. For students taking remedial courses, these technologies can help them catch up with their peers and get back on track to an on-time degree. When you factor in the cost of tuition and increased earning potential of college graduates, it becomes clear that these outcomes can change lives.

When software is capable of personalizing a student’s learning path we call it “adaptive.” Adaptive study tools continuously assess students’ skills and knowledge, track the topics students have mastered and those that still require further practice, and adjust content along the way for each student. By zeroing in on highly actionable data – we call it “small data” – adaptive tools support not only students but their instructors, helping to identify specific problems as they arise and allowing educators to intervene early and effectively. Why wait for that failed mid-term to alert the instructor when the software can support effective intervention from day one?

Graduation matters

So at this time of year, when students don their caps and gowns and pick up their diplomas, let’s reflect on what it means not only to them but to all of us. And let’s strive to help others cross the stage and have richer and fuller lives. — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
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One Teen’s Crusade To Make Sure His Classmates Get Enough Rest

Matthew Daniels, a junior at Unionville High School in Pennsylvania, knows how to make all of his classmates happier, healthier and safer with just one adjustment to their everyday routines: more sleep.
Daniels and a group of about 10 other teens are pushing school leaders in Chester County to delay school start times. The teens are involved with a countywide leadership group for local students, and for the past year they’ve been studying the issue with the help of market research firm Hanover Research. They are determined to make sure that their classmates are given more time to sleep in.
Indeed, lack of sleep is a problem for adolescents across the country. While the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that middle and high schools start after 8:30 a.m., only about 17.7 percent of them do, according to Department of Education data from the 2011-2012 school year analyzed by the CDC. As a result, over 90 percent of teens are chronically sleep-deprived, says a 2014 report. 
Lack of sleep can have a devastating impact on teens. Sleep-deprived students are more likely to have poor academic performance and be anxious or overweight. It also makes them more likely to get into car accidents. More than half of car accidents where drivers fall asleep involve people aged 25 or younger.
Daniels’ high school currently starts at 7:35 a.m — a fact he has been passionate about changing since his freshman year. Daniels started thinking about the issue when a teacher prompted one of his classes with the question: What’s something in your high school you would want to change to make your experience better? 

Daniels and his class started researching how a delayed school start time could impact their well-being. He continued to research the issue through his sophomore year. The issue gained steam within his school when an Advanced Placement Psychology teacher assigned a project for students to investigate the benefits of delayed school start times.
This year, Daniels got help when the Chester County Intermediate Unit’s Student Forum — the countywide leadership group in which Daniels is involved — formed a subcommittee to bolster support for the topic.
Daniels and his peers have received positive feedback from their countywide board of education on the issue. They are now working to lobby their individual school administrators for changes. 
“When the wellness is improved, students are able to learn better,” said Daniels. 
In the next year, Daniels will be meeting with members of his community, including bussing officials and school leaders, about potential changes in his school. He has also started a local chapter of Start School Later, a nonprofit that advocates for delayed school start times. 
The Unionville-Chadds Ford School District superintendent, Dr. John Sanville, said stakeholders are currently considering the options for a delayed school start time. 
“Our students have really made a compelling case to our board and community on the benefits of a delayed school start time – clearly their work is supported by research,” said Sanville. “It’s one thing when you see the reports and hear AAP [American Academy of Pediatrics]  … talk about delaying school start times, it’s another thing when one of your students is right in front of you and talks about real-life experiences.”
For Daniels, delayed school start times are a no-brainer.
“More and more students treat high school like a job. They get up super early and stay up late. It’s definitely not healthy,” said Daniels. “I’ve had friends fall asleep in class, and more extreme, at the wheel.”
“There’s no reason why it shouldn’t be changed,” he said.
Rebecca Klein covers the challenges faced in school discipline, school segregation and the achievement gap in K-12 education. In particular, she is drilling down into the programs and innovations that are trying to solve these problems. Tips? Email [email protected]
Related Stories:
Why School Start Times Play A Huge Role In Kids’ Success
Schools Can Be Rough Places For Introverts, But This Book Could Help
A Group Of Bronx Teens Are Trying To Transform New York City’s Segregated Schools
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Michelle Obama Pledges $100 Million For Girls' Education In Morocco

MARRAKESH, Morocco, June 28 (Reuters) – U.S. first lady Michelle Obama, her mother and daughters Sasha and Malia were joined by Meryl Streep in Morocco’s Marrakesh on Tuesday on a six-day tour to try to promote girls’ education.
More than a third of Morocco’s population of 34 million is illiterate – one of the highest rates in North Africa, and the rate is higher for women at 41 percent, official data shows.
“I am sitting here now as the U.S. first lady, talking to you, because of my education,” MichelleObama told a dozen girls from different towns.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a U.S. government foreign aid agency, announced during her visit the allocation of $100 million to be spent on 100,000 Moroccan students, half of whom will be teenage girls.
The funds come from $450 million given by the MCC last year to boost education and employablity in Morocco.
Michelle Obama stepped up her campaign for girls’ education after Islamist group Boko Haram seized 276 girls from their school in Nigeria in 2014 and she highlighted their plight through a Twitter hashtag, #BringBackOurGirls.
She spent Sunday and Monday in Liberia, where she visited a U.S. Peace Corps site and a school with President and Nobel Peace laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, promoting Let Girls Learn, a U.S. government initiative begun with her husband in 2015. (Editing by Louise Ireland)
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Spare The Rod And Educate The Child

It’s a little known fact in modern day America that corporal punishment at school is still practiced in 19 states of the union. A recent study identified seven culprits, Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Oklahoma who make up 80% of its application right now in the United States. No surprise, when it comes to “children of color,” they don’t spare the rod. According to the Office of Civil Rights, Department of Education, African-American children are twice as likely to be subject to “in-house corporal punishment” in schools. Oh dear. Is this yet another reminder of the racist past? Yes, of course it is. But along with mass incarceration, and the school-to-prison pipeline, it’s also another shocking indictment of our racist present.

Then there’s that pesky term. What do they mean by “in-house corporal punishment”? The Department of Education defines it as “paddling, spanking, or other forms of physical punishment imposed on a student.” “Paddling” is done with a “paddle” – a wooden instrument that looks like a child’s cricket bat. I’d seen them before, in old comedies like “Animal House” (Kevin Bacon gets six degrees of paddle from his satanic frat house buddies), and “Catholic Boys” (a sadistic monk torments his pupils with a customized model). But when it comes to the cane, the schoolmaster’s traditional rod of discipline and punishment, the paddle is a joke by comparison. Growing up in England, during the 1970s and 1980s, I have my own memories of its use. None of them, I hasten to add, are any good.

The first time I got caned was at Mosspits Lane Primary School in Liverpool — a seat of learning that famously expelled John Lennon of the Beatles when he was five years old. It was a hot summer’s day. The kids were having a grass fight on the school field at playtime. A teacher saw us and shouted out. It was the headmaster: a fish-eyed robot in a tin grey suit that was neither new nor in fashion. We were summoned to his office and beaten on the palm of the hand, ten times, by a slim bamboo cane that he whipped (abracadabra!) out of a steel filing cabinet. I felt the full force and effect of every blow and bit my tongue rather than cry out. It was a lesson in cruelty I shall never forget.

My second experience of “in-house corporal punishment” was at Douai, a Catholic prep school near to London. Almost immediately, aged 12, I noticed that beating children was so much the norm as to be part and parcel of the school’s curriculum. Boys were thrashed by monks and teachers for a variety of petty offences – stealing a block of Perspex from the science lab; swearing in the dorm before lights out; and, in one horrific instance, a gap-toothed kid with learning difficulties threatened with “three of the best” for “dumb insolence.” He spewed with fear and burst into tears. It didn’t save him from the humiliation and degradation of the teacher’s cane.

One punishment from boyhood stands out in particular. Three lads from my class got summoned for a caning after some high jinks on the rugby pitch. The penalty was “six of the best” from our Headmaster, Father Wilfred, a human wombat who wore striped pajamas under his cassock to keep out the cold. Forget the English stiff upper lip. They awaited the punishment with dread. Nothing hurt more than a beating from Father Wilfred. My younger brother once described the ritual. In the center of his office, there was a wooden chair with a bible on it. You bent over, eyes on the bible and took your beating like a gent. Afterwards, this being England, you shook hands with the Headmaster and said, “thank you” (however, there were instances of boys telling Father Wilfred to “fuck off,” my brother included).

Later, after gym class, I saw their tortured bodies in the locker room. Their rears were blistered black and blue. And they had been thrashed so hard you could even see the grooves of the cane on the butt cheeks. My mind was swimming with questions. How could a fully-grown, civilized, educated and seemingly benign old priest turn robot and thrash a child so hard? Where were the social workers? Nowhere. This was a fee-paying boarding school. Parents approved of the regime. It was character building and many of them had gone through it themselves. They weren’t going to call in the social workers, or send letters of complaint to Father Wilfred for beating on their kids.

Soon after, the cane was banned in England. Good riddance. The marks of a schoolboy beating heal, but the mental scars never really go away. But many years on, afar and asunder from youth, you don’t expect to wake up in the freest and most enlightened country in the world (that’s America, folks,) to discover that corporal punishment at school is alive and kicking. What’s amazing is that no one in the media has really addressed the issue. Thankfully, it’s a different story up on the hill. Deadlocked politicians jabber and filibuster about the pros and cons of a ban on physical discipline at school. It’s about time too.

Spare the rod and spoil the child? No. Spare the rod and educate the child. The United Nations and the American Academy of Paediatrics both say that corporal punishment should be avoided at school. In a statement, the American Federation of Schoolteachers said, “…it teaches students that violence is acceptable.” And research by the American Psychological Association identified the physical discipline of schoolchildren as a leading cause of future mental health problems and antisocial behavior. They are right. Beating children traumatizes children and it does more harm than good. And what gives a civilized, rational and highly educated adult the right to beat a child in 19 states of the union? The law. Fortunately, it’s a well-known fact that laws can be changed. — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
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Chasing Perfection

By Mohamed Ramy
Student, Amherst College

Ever since I can remember, I have strived to be the perfect man: I remember learning more than two foreign languages to be erudite, studying chess and learning the guitar to impress others, and understanding what people want to hear and saying it. A destructive penchant, it has often made me feel simply unworthy and left me unfulfilled, as I felt ingenuine and hollow. Oddly, only recently have I given the concept of perfection its deserved reflection.

I grew up in an Egyptian household that cared about appearances and first impressions. While my mother stressed internal values and character education, my good-natured father drew satisfaction from others’ praise and always felt the need to insist on me appearing perfect. As contrasting characters, my parents lead different yet parallel lives, thankfully balancing one another. Since my father seemed to be perfect, I grew up emulating him, yet I always felt awful inside, as now I realize I had been lying to myself throughout about who I want to be. Nevertheless, I then thought perfection attainable and came to define it as living up to societal expectations.

Markedly, in our younger years, we come to think of societal expectations as honorable pursuits. And so, I attempted to perfect my soccer kicks, Egyptian sense of humor, level of fitness, general gait, and manner of speaking. What is more, I generally looked for character traits extolled by Egyptian society and tried my best to embody them: I tried to be loyal, proud, thoughtful, masculine, and religious. Notably, it was not that I wanted to fit in or had the urge to conform – I simply wanted to be the perfect Egyptian and to be celebrated by my family. I had learned from my father to never accept imperfection as an option – that is until I read Anna Karenina. It cannot be denied that Tolstoy is a transcendent giant with an undaunted imagination. In reading about Anna’s doomed character, I felt Tolstoy to be attacking me, telling me to change. Suddenly, he proclaimed, “If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.” Until this day, those words ring truth. When I finished the book, I felt something die in me: the need to become someone I was not. All my mistaken dreams of flawless scenarios were shattered, and reality took its toll.

Throughout my life, the concept of perfection had affected my notion of who “the right one” is, making me critical and meticulous, and in the process has made me have unrealistic expectations about love. As an intern for “The QUESTion Project,” a non-profit endeavor that focuses on finding purpose and meaning whilst empowering one to be fearless and conscious, I arduously contemplated the courage to love after watching Bronx students talk about its importance. Transfixed by the idea of love, the notion of “the right one,” and emotional transcendence from a young age, I had a lot to think about. I remembered Viktor E. Frankl’s declaration in Man’s Search for Meaning: “Love is the ultimate and highest goal to which man may aspire…a man who has nothing in this world may still know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved.” Yet, after the internship, I had to admit that I myself am imperfect: I am often talkative, critical and analytical, culturally confused, and regularly stubborn. Although my imperfections agitate me, they have shaped who I have become. Oddly, the greatest act of courage is accepting imperfection – is accepting the fact that to be human is to err.

Whenever I think of how to be content with imperfection, I think about how each day I may strive to be a better person. I believe obsessing over perfection hampers our ability to develop, as then we may never be ourselves. In order to invest in things that will make us happy, we must dedicate time to knowing our imperfect selves. Only then will we be liberated and achieve greatness. Undoubtedly, every society’s unique expectations sometimes force us to conform to some certain standard; however, it takes great resolve to choose to acknowledge a weakness and harness it to become a strength – it takes audacity to see flaws and accept their existence. As a perfectionist, I have lived in the future for many years so that the present has eluded me, and I regret it, for sometimes I forget to appreciate the fact that I am alive. Indeed, chasing perfection has been a self-destructive, never-ending marathon that I intend to quit. Appreciate the journey and know that you will always be a work in progress. It only gets better from there. — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
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Meeting The Needs Of Tomorrow's Leaders

College campuses across the country are experiencing increased student activism. Students are challenging practices inside and outside the classroom, demanding change and forcing our campuses to tackle important and long overlooked issues of class, race, social status, and the narratives that our institutions have chosen to promote. This is good! What better place for students to lead advocacy and systemic institutional change efforts than on our own campuses.

Student voices are also being heard at high schools and even middle schools across the country. Recent school walk-outs by students demanding more funding and great support of public schools are generating impressive results. Here in Boston, Wheelock College recently hosted, with our community partners, a powerful conversation with more than 500 middle and high school students from Greater Boston.

The half day Youth Symposium: Youth Speak discussed the politics of race, gender, and equity. The students heard an inspiring keynote message from Beverly Bond, Founder of Black Girls Rock! What was most impressive was the receptiveness of the “adults” including Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh and other civic and business leaders who were there to listen to the voices of the students. We asked these passionate students to identify the issues they believe affect them the most.

Their list of “hot issues” included:

• Jobs: Particularly lack of access to summer jobs, meaningful internships, and workforce readiness skills
• College Access: Particularly lack of resources to prepare for college
• Voice in School: Particularly lack of opportunities to talk about what’s going on in their schools around funding
• Community Violence: Particularly lack of opportunities to talk about community violence they may have experienced

The students told us the many ways that these issues affect them personally, as well as the impact they see in their neighborhoods and communities, the media, and their schools. It was an eye-opening experience for me and the other adults in the room. Far from the stereotypes we often see of urban youth as loud and uncaring, these students were thoughtful, respectful, well-spoken, and completely engaged in the discussion about improving their future. Most importantly, the students presented meaningful and measurable solutions that can be implemented. Our overriding message to them was that young voices matter and we wanted to hear what they had to say.

The voices of young people are incredibly important in any discussion of our future. In fact, the agenda of this and our two previous Wheelock Youth Symposia were created by the students themselves. This year, we asked the students to tell us how we can make Boston a better city, how we can make this a better country, and how we can address issues around race, gender, and equity.

The students brainstormed in small groups on what they need to overcome these issues and succeed. And boy did they have ideas to share!

• They recommend partnering with community organizations, such as the Boston Foundation, to create professional networking opportunities and training for paid jobs for young teens.
• They want better support from guidance counselors to navigate the college preparation process.
• They suggest creating a social justice course requirement for all Boston Public School students, where they could discuss school budgets and other social factors that directly affect their education.
• They want their teachers to get to know them better–without labeling them–and aim to understand their individual experiences.
• They want to develop a culture of “see something, say something” by fostering community activities where people can come together to talk about drugs, trafficking, music, and media.

They also told us we need to figure out how to make our institutions of higher learning–both public and private–more accessible to all students. These students laid out a pathway to success and there is a role for all of us adults to play–whether we’re in higher ed, public office, the private sector, or anywhere else. If we can rise to this challenge, I have complete confidence that these young people–and their peers across this country–can truly save the world.

The 2016 Youth Symposium was Wheelock’s third such event for middle and high school students. In our first Symposium, Archbishop Desmond Tutu engaged with youth on the very important topic of forgiveness. Our second Symposium, led by award-winning author and activist Hill Harper and Harvard Law School Professor Charles Ogletree, focused on our commitment to each other and our obligation to give back to society. For our third Symposium, we decided to focus on the intersection of gender, race, and equity because we all see it played out every day in the media.

I believe 2016 will be an incredibly important year for everyone in Boston, across America, and around the world. Not only are we electing a U.S. president, but we’ll be electing Congresspeople, Senators, and local officials who all will affect our ability to have the kind of life we want to have for ourselves and for our children. The 2016 Youth Symposium was a powerful day for the young people and everyone else in attendance.

As I complete my 12-year presidency at Wheelock College this month and celebrate the success of our third Youth Symposium, I hope that other institutions around the country will open their campuses to similar conversations with the voices of our youth. We have a lot to learn from them!

For more information on the Wheelock College Youth Symposium and video highlights of the 2016 Youth Symposium, visit our web site here. — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
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Is Higher Education Suffering a Crisis of Budget, Buildings or Failure to Adapt?

The University of Chicago will be laying off more workers following a building spree, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. ( Steeped in tradition, the school is rightfully proud of its rich and long history and the role it has played as a learning landmark in the surrounding community.

For University of Chicago staff and students, this news must be difficult to hear. Still many of us who are in higher education are not surprised given the state of colleges and universities in America. Inevitably, other institutions will surely follow suit until we, as a nation, change our attitude and approach to higher education. This is not a budgetary crisis, but a failure to adapt – and not just by the schools, but society as a whole.

As long as colleges continue to look toward the same sources of funding, and conduct business as usual, any state budgetary shortfalls are going to result in a cascade of failures in their colleges and universities. Private schools will not fare much better as the price of delivering an education continues to climb in order to meet the rising cost of underutilized buildings and rapidly transforming technology. At the same time colleges and universities focus on aggressive discounting to attract a declining traditional aged population resulting in less revenue to meet obligations while deferring critical investment.

The University of Chicago fallout will not only affect state lawmakers and college staff, but students and the business community as well. This failure to address an antiquated approach to education is costing our nation, and all of us should care, not just those being laid off, as this affects our future and our ability to compete in the global marketplace. This is not a higher education crisis, but an industry problem, and a national concern.

Sadly, this is the predicted outcome for many schools that subscribe to the old model of higher education which has been in play for as long as the University of Chicago has been around. We may very well be seeing this story repeated as other learning institutions resist change while adhering to a historical approach of educating our nation’s workers.

For the past century, schools focused on increasing enrollment by creating grand campuses to cater to the traditional student who would walk through their doors, sit in a classroom, listen to lectures by professors and demonstrate what they had learned by repeating it in essays and exams. Upon completion, these students would earn a degree, be hired into a career that would carry them through to retirement and a gold watch. They would buy homes, raise families and educate their own children based on a model that was the same for their parents and even their grandparents. Under this highly successful system, it made sense to budget more dollars to school infrastructure. Buildings are permanent structures and have long been viewed as a solid and sound investment. What if in the information age the physical structure is actually a disadvantage and possibly limiting to the educational experience?

During this same period, colleges were seen as the authority on learning and the business community was able to draw upon a pool of qualified graduates, so there was little challenge from employers to transform the school’s approach to meet the the community’s staffing needs. Learning institutions dictated the curriculum, and businesses relied on colleges to keep pace with a slowly evolving marketplace. This model was so effective for so many years, that it became the deeply entrenched paradigm for higher education.

By the 1980s and 1990s, college budget priorities did not change despite the explosion of technology taking place in society all around them. The workplace was being transformed, and schools remained pretty much the same. The business community also began clamoring for better-trained workers who had the skill sets to navigate this new way of doing business. Some employers resorted to hiring workers from abroad, a move which weakened the American job market and at the same time, hastened the arrival of a global marketplace.

Schools and universities continued to function from a position of reacting to an emerging technological world, instead of being leaders by anticipating these changes and creating programs to foster learning for this new environment. Like non-traditional students, technology and the needs of business have been slowly, and almost reluctantly embraced by higher education.

While facilities are important, schools need to be focused on a curriculum and delivery method that accommodates the new economy – and that includes older workers, international students, those seeking certification as well as traditional learners. The days of having a degree take you from graduation to retirement are over, and while students and businesses seem to understand this, higher education has been slow to accept this new reality.

Technology has not only transformed how we deliver an education, but it has become an integral part of society, and much of a worker’s career will be dependent on their ability to use and understand these advancements. And as technology evolves, so must workers’ skills, which will require a lifetime of learning. It is at this point where higher education is falling down as it clings to the idea that what has worked in the past, is what will always be effective in the future. The needs of the employer, along with technology and delivery methods should replace facilities as the budgetary priority for higher education.

American industry can no longer expect a pool of highly trained, well-educated workers to hire from without investing in their education as a continuous learning model. Students can no longer expect that four years of schooling will allow them to advance in their careers. Society can no longer expect that an education using technology many times more sophisticated and complex than that which launched man into outer space to be limited to a specific building or time zone. Universities must be at the forefront of reimagining how education is delivered and expanding the opportunity/access across all life stages.

Higher education can no longer operate in a bubble; business and students must all understand that this is a connected system which is dependent on everyone being invested in education. If we, as a nation, do not begin viewing education as an investment model in our global competitiveness, we will be reading many more stories like the University of Chicago. — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
Source: huffingtonpost