New Thinking for “Student-ready” Institutions
In a new Quadcast, Executive Director Marjorie Malpiede interviews Joe Tranquillo, Associate Provost at Bucknell University, who applies “UX” (user experience) thinking to a host of academic priorities, including retention. The Associate Provost for Transformative Teaching & Learning and Professor of Biomedical Engineering refers to the principles of the Coalition for Life Transformative Education (CLTE), in advising institutions to Identify what it takes for students to thrive and apply that to “everything you do.”
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Mental and Behavioral Health
NPR features an article for parents on keeping an eye on their students’ mental health this fall. Advice includes being proactive about getting their students familiar with the school, asking their children what is and is not working, looking out for any signs of changed behavior, and helping students find the resources they need. “Parents know their kids better than anyone else. There’s a difference between, ‘Oh, my son or daughter is having a challenging day or a challenging week’ versus ‘something just seems off,’” says clinical psychologist Nathan Demers.
Inside Higher Ed reports on UCLA’s new initiatives aimed at addressing depression among local community college students. According to the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice at Temple University, community college students disproportionately come from low-income households and experience unique stressors, such as higher rates of food insecurity than students at four-year universities. “[T]here’s very little research that is done on this population [in regards to their mental health],” said Sonia Lopez, dean of student services at East Los Angeles College.
WBUR News reports on the spike in childhood anxiety and depression in Massachusetts. According to the Kids Count Data Book, there has been a reported 50% increase in anxiety and depression in teens and children in recent years.
Erudera reports on findings showing that depression and anxiety levels have increased by 135% over 8 years among US college students. “American Indian/Alaskan Native students need to be brought into the conversation for universities to invest in resources that align with their preferences,” said Dr. Sarah K. Lipson, assistant professor of health law, policy, and management at the Boston University School of Public Health.
The University of Hawai‘i News reports on a free mental health program for Native Hawaiian students. The Ka Malu a Wa’ahila program will provide access to individual therapy sessions, group counseling, and self-help tools.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
NPR reports on historically Black colleges and universities building higher education pathways for prisoners. In efforts to reduce recidivism, programs such as the Tennessee Higher Education In Prison Initiative are establishing four-year degree programs to help incarcerated students. Stanley Andrisse, PhD, MBA, shares his story; At 21-years old, Andrisse was convicted to prison on three felony charges and is now an endocrinologist, scientist and professor at Howard University’s College of Medicine. Dr. Andrisse credits his journey and success to the mentor he had who helped him apply to higher education when he was incarcerated.
Inside Higher Ed and Higher Ed Dive review a new report from the Education Trust and Generation Hope, revealing the major challenges that student parents face when it comes to affording childcare and college tuition. Working for minimum wage, the average student parent in the U.S. needs to rack up over 50 hours per week—on top of their course schedules—to cover costs.
After over one-third of the country’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities received bomb threats last year, Inside Higher Ed and Politco spotlight school administrators’ frustrations regarding an ongoing lack of progress into the federal investigation. Despite the significant toll the bomb threats took on students’ mental health and major campus security concerns, the FBI has yet to make any arrests or name any suspects.
To consider how colleges can help neurodivergent students thrive, Higher Ed Dive interviews Oksana Hagerty, the dean of the Center for Student Success at Beacon College, which offers academic programs designed specifically for those with learning disabilities. Hagerty touches on the unique challenges faced by students with disabilities during the pandemic and offers tips for making the classroom more accessible.
Reproductive Health and Justice
WBUR covers tensions emerging between and within sororities in response to how the groups have reacted to the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. As some sisters support the decision to overturn Roe, others have condemned their organizations for not adequately speaking out against it.
Inside Higher Ed discusses the privacy concerns that come with using apps that track reproductive health data, as that information is now potentially incriminating in a post-Roe world. In addition to the government, colleges may be able to access their students’ reproductive health information by monitoring their technology or internet use on campus.
Greek Life and Hazing
Several fraternities are dissafilliating from the University of Southern California, meaning they will no longer be subject to oversight from the school, which suspended fraternity activities last year after a wave of drugging and sexual assault accusations. According to Inside Higher Ed and Higher Ed Dive, the case at USC exemplifies a growing trend toward dissifiliation, as more fraternities nationwide cut ties with universities who want to crack down on various misconduct (hazing, sexual assault, substance abuse) concerns.
An op-ed for The Hechinger Report argues that it is necessary for higher education to build on what has been learned during the pandemic. “Almost everyone admits the potential of online learning, used selectively and wisely. While online classes do not work well for young children, many college courses worked well enough to demonstrate new potential for a post-pandemic future,” writes John Mitchell, a professor at the Stanford School of Engineering. “All this gave me hope that new alliances and new ways of working will help U.S. higher education shake off decades of paralysis and begin boldly solving problems in new ways.”
Inside Higher Ed reports on the University of California system seeking to re-enroll adults who left college without completing their degrees. Over the next eight years, the UC system plans to grow enrollment by 23,000 in-state students. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, close to 6.4 million adults in California dropped out of college. From the 6,030 students who left UC Riverside, 76% percent were from underrepresented groups, and 48% are first-generation. California had the highest number of adults with some college but no degree.
Inside Higher Ed reveals that more colleges around the country are beginning to provide students access to or training for administering naloxone, a drug that can reverse opioid overdoses. To save lives, advocates say naloxone should be as accessible as possible, including on college campuses where opioid use may be misunderstood or underestimated.
The New York Times reports that the Biden administration is canceling $10,000 in student loans for borrowers earning less than $125,000. Inside Higher Ed, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal report on the debate leading up to the decision. Over 7.5 borrowers who defaulted on their loans may also be eligible for financial aid under “The Fresh Start Initiative.” Allies, however, have been feuding at The White House after the recent enrollment of the Inflation Reduction Act. The move may also be critical to young voters for upcoming midterm elections. As the deadline to resume student loan payments on August 31 is fast approaching, many young adults are unprepared to meet payments after a 2-year pause from the pandemic.
NPR reports on more colleges offering free tuition to Native students. The University of California system, the University of Arizona, and Oregon State University have initiated programs to financially support students from federally-recognized Native tribes, which can boost efforts to increase Native students’ college completion rates. College affordability has long been a barrier for Native students, due to a lack of generational wealth in their communities and expected family contributions.
Higher Ed Dive reports on the dramatic effects of inflation on driving tuition costs, according to Fitch Ratings. After reviewing the 2021 fiscal year, Fitch’s portfolio estimates decreased borrowing, lower capital spending, and lower endowment spending privileges. Emily Wadhwani, Fitch senior director for U.S. public finance, estimates public and private colleges will see stagnant, if not minimal growth, due to a competing labor market and high costs.
The Hechinger Report considers how college dorms become a stage for financial inequality, exposing students who can and can’t afford certain living amenities. While some dorm decor companies like Dormify are helping lower-income students decorate for less, students can also find low cost ways to decorate their rooms on social media or by shopping second-hand.
Thanks in part to new legislation, The Chronicle finds the presence of benefits navigators—individuals hired to help students meet their basic needs—is growing on college campuses. Still, benefits navigators are struggling with few resources and many responsibilities, from connecting students with financial aid to providing personalized emotional support. Some schools have turned to peer-to-peer support models to lighten the load.
The Washington Post highlights how colleges this fall are tackling Covid-19 in different and sometimes opposing ways. While some schools continue to enforce mask and vaccine mandates, others have loosened or dissolved old restrictions. Meanwhile, Higher Ed Dive presents newly published findings from Boston University, where researchers determined that, with mask and vaccine mandates in place, in-person teaching did not contribute to the spread of Covid-19 on campus last fall.