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  • Confessions of a Community College Dean

    In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.

Friday Fragments
March 13, 2014 - 9:54pm

Unapologetic Family Brag: Mom is the director of career services for the MBA program at the LeBow College of Business at Drexel University, in Philadelphia. The Financial Times just issued its international rankings of MBA programs. In the “career services” column, Drexel/LeBow was ranked #1 in the world.

Go, Mom!

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If you haven’t yet seen Rebecca Schuman’s anti-Powerpoint Powerpoint, check it out. 

It’s uncomfortably funny because it’s uncomfortably true.  Nicely done.

--

This week I heard another local story of a student who had a hellish experience in high school, but who got back on track by coming to community college as a dual-enrollment student. The issue wasn’t academics; it was the need to escape from the dysfunctions of high school culture.

I used to think of dual enrollment as a way to keep bored prodigies from bumping their heads against the ceilings of high school curricula. Those students still exist, and dual enrollment still serves them well. But increasingly, I’m seeing non-prodigies use dual enrollment for the sake of escaping a culture that does them no good. (In some parts of the country, dual enrollment has also become popular among students who have been home-schooled.  I haven’t seen much of that here yet.)

If it were one or two students, I could see them as flukes. But it’s starting to look like a trend. 

These students are invisible in our political discourse around education, both secondary and higher. They aren’t high school dropouts, but they aren’t attending high school, either.  “Time to completion” is hard to measure when they’re completing two things at once, and neither in quite the traditional way. And if a dual enrollment student transfers to a four-year school after completing the high school diploma and, say, twenty or thirty college credits, she counts as a dropout. Considering what the alternative was, and where she could go in life once she transfers, counting that as institutional failure is nonsense on stilts.

I know I’ve been hitting the “we’re counting wrong!” theme a lot lately, but that’s because we’re counting wrong a lot. If we’re going to hold colleges “accountable,” let’s at least get the counting right.

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The Boy has jazz band practice at dark o’clock every Thursday morning, so I’ve recently had the experience of watching an adolescent boy try to function before the sun comes up. 

In that spirit, I’m happy to see that some school districts are starting to catch up with scientific findings about the adolescent body clock -- and the observations of parents everywhere -- and moving the start of the school day later. 

It’s the kind of forehead-slappingly obvious move that could easily spread even to places that can’t afford other ways to improve.  Here’s hoping it starts to become the new normal.

 

 

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