What I'm Reading

Mental health, FERPA, Sweet Briar and more.

May 18, 2015

I am first and foremost a reader, and I like to share what I've read with people I think would also enjoy the article or book or blog post. But I struggle to find the right social media platform to share what I’m reading. Goodreads is great for sharing books, but doesn’t include other media formats. I try to keep Facebook personal, and Twitter more public and professional, which works if I can condense quotes. Yes, I could start a Tumblr, or a blog, but that would be just another app that I've downloaded, used sporadically for a month, and then only remember when I receive an updated privacy notice or a data breach notice. Google Reader was perfect for this, but alas, it went the way of many other Google Labs projects and was decommissioned.

So until I find a better what to share medium length snippets, here's a quick summary of what I've been reading, in the hopes that this is not stale news and some readers will find it interesting.

Tulane’s Mental Health Meltdown

Tulane’s counseling center is located in a rundown building on the academic quad, a bit of a hike from the student dorms. CAPS shares space with the financial aid office at Tulane, and both have an air of office-park fluorescence that is unlike Tulane’s ultra-modern student center, for example, where manmade waterfalls cascade through the center of a glassy building.

What I was struck by is the offices of Mental Health and Financial Aid, arguably among the most discussed aspects of college in the 21st century, are relegated to the far reaches of campus. I suspect this is the case at many universities, but what does it imply about the value of offices who spend a great deal of time counseling students, and do not generate a revenue stream?

Tenured Radical on switching jobs:

"If you work at a liberal arts college it is a lot like being in a club."

"If you work at a liberal arts college you get to both complain liberally about your students and also humblebrag about them."

Just read anything Tenured Radical writes. Caveat: we share a former employer.

A collection of articles about the spike in FERPA requests. It’s not every day that FERPA makes the news, which makes the records retention and registrar-geek in me quite pleased:

Trust me students, you do not want to see the comments on your college application,

from TIME magazine, a summary by the Chronicle, and an article written by a student in the New Republic.  

On a more personal note, the recent coverage in IHE on the closing of Sweet Briar college prompted me to do a little ancestry research, since my great-grandmother graduated from Sweet Briar in 1918. She spoke highly of the college throughout her life, according to relatives. I’ve attempted to request her transcript, but I’m sure the Registrar’s Office at Sweet Briar is inundated with requests like mine.

I've also been reading more nonfiction books lately, including Gretchen Rubin's Happier at Home, Charles Duhigg's The Power of Habit, and Words Onscreen by Naomi S. Baron. Duhigg and Rubin both offer a type of self-reflection on day to day actions and habits and offer an upbeat and seemingly doable approach to making small changes successful. I found Words Onscreen when browsing my local library (yes, I still wander the stacks).

I have found some of the most interesting articles I’ve read lately not from the recommendations of friends or professional acquaintances, but from the NY TImes blog What We’re Reading. Although I subscribe, I hardly read every article in the New Yorker and would have missed Elizabeth Alexander’s heart wrenching piece about the death of her husband. Good writing creates emotion, and moves the reader - in this case, the article moved me to tears. Her story takes places in the neighborhoods I frequent, which made the article resonate more deeply. I’ve seen the hawks she describes, circling my back yard. I too have a husband who could suddenly be felled by a heart attack.

Although the articles and books I’ve read may seems disparate, this is a reading list of a liberal arts graduate, of an English major. I continue to think critically, to want to learn new things, and to be more informed about my community.

How do you share what you are reading? What did you find to replace Google Reader? And what are you reading?


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