What Students Think of Their College Experience

Wednesday, November 23, 2022 - In a special episode recorded at The Chronicle of Higher Education Festival, Jeff Selingo and guest co-host Bridget Burns talk with three students about what has worked (and what hasn't) in their college experiences. With support from Ascendium Education Group, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Course Hero.

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Transcript

Desirée Vanderloop:

It's very important that institutions instill in all of their students that all of their journeys are just as equally important and that they have the support from the institution behind them. If I need to pause, take a break, take one class at a time, that all these things are taken into consideration and just making sure that you're providing, again, providing those resources are so important for adult learners to feel supported along the way, the entire way.

Jeff Selingo:

That was Desirée Vanderloop. She's a senior at Morgan State University in Maryland, and Desirée recently joined us for a recording of this episode of Future U, live at the Chronicle of Higher Ed Festival in Washington, D.C.

Sponsor:

This episode is brought to you by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, working to eliminate race, ethnicity, and income as predictors of student success through innovation, data and information, policy and institutional transformation.

This episode of Future U. is sponsored by Ascendium Education Group, a non-profit organization committed to helping learners from low-income backgrounds reach their education and career goals. For more information visit ascendiumphilanthropy.org.

And by Course Hero. From creating more engaging syllabi to building an inclusive and impactful curriculum, Course Hero is a professional learning community where more than 100,000 teachers share resources and strategies for helping students succeed. Get access to the latest teaching events, workshops and certification courses by joining Course Hero's professional learning community. Join today at coursehero.com/educators.

Subscribe to Future U. wherever you get your podcasts, and follow us on Twitter at the handle @futureupodcast. And if you enjoy the show, please give us a five star rating so others can discover the conversations we're having about higher education.

Jeff Selingo:

I'm Jeff Selingo.

Michal Horn:

And I'm Michael Horn.

Welcome to another episode of Future U. We often on this show talk about the experiences of students, but rarely do we get the opportunity to have that conversation with students themselves. One of the highlights for me from our campus tour this past year were honestly the students that we got to talk to on many of the campuses to hear about their personal experiences. So as more colleges and universities tout themselves as, quote, "student-centered universities," Jeff and I wanted to know how well they're actually achieving in that and really building a student experience that has a lot less friction.

Jeff Selingo:

Yeah, indeed, Michael. It's often said by college leaders that students are our why, and so we brought together a group of three students at the Chronicle of Higher Education's Festival, which was an in-person half day event for senior college and university leaders, and they held it at Arizona State's D.C. campus in November. We of course, couldn't cover the experience of every type of student out there, but we wanted to show the experiences of three different personas of students that are increasingly typical in higher ed, or at least at some institutions should be more typical. We were joined by Desirée Vanderloop, a senior at Morgan State University in Maryland. Now, Vanderloop started her college journey 14 years ago, and in between starting and hopefully finishing this coming May, she's had one baby, a marriage and divorce, and three job moves. And in May she's scheduled to receive her bachelor's degree at Morgan State in a program there that is specifically designed for returning adults like her.

We were also joined by Lisa Kennedy, a sophomore at Georgetown University, who's from rural northern Wisconsin. Now she's a first generation student who went to high school where not many students go to college, or if they do, they certainly don't go to a selective institution like Georgetown. And we talked with Lisa about how she not only got to Georgetown, but also how she felt when she arrived on campus. And then finally we were joined by Jalen Stubbs, who's a senior at George Mason University. Now Michael, it's important to remember that last spring men made up just over 40% of the nation's undergraduate students, which is an all-time low. And the enrollment declines were especially pronounced among Black and Latino men. Jalen is Black and talked about his experience at a predominantly white institution, George Mason University.

Michal Horn:

And Jeff, unfortunately, because COVID finally hit me, I couldn't make it to D.C. for this recording. So a big thank you to a friend and past guest of the podcast, Bridget Burns, who of course is the CEO of the University Innovation Alliance, which is a group of public universities working together to increase student success and graduation rates for low income students on their campuses. And with that, here are Jeff and Bridget at the Chronicle of Higher Education Festival in Washington D.C.

Jeff Selingo:

So I want to start with each of you just at the top here, because we talked about the student experience encompassing everything in your journey through an institution. From the moment you applied through enrollment and now to the day to day interactions you have with offices and faculty and staff, both inside and outside the classroom. So how would you describe that? Is the student experience that you're having, is it overall positive? Is it not so much? What's working in your mind and what's not working for the student experience that you see from your perspective? Jalen, let's start with you.

Jalen Stubbs:

Well, first off, I want to thank you guys both for having us today. I'd say what really works for me the most is really being able to build the relationships because you want to be able to have a good community for being around people with similar interests. And so whenever you're in that environment of having that network, you're on a good path to success. As far as maybe what's not really working is probably reaching out, that's probably an area for improvement. I've noticed at specifically Mason, being able to reach out to students more and give them a purpose and a motive for continuing education and to have a target of their career goals.

Bridget Burns:

Just a quick follow up. When you're talking about reaching out, if there was an office that would've been helpful for them to talk with you or to contact you early on, is there one in particular that stands out or is there a part of the institution that you feel like I know the least about as you were going through your journey?

Jalen Stubbs:

I'd say there are various offices, but I'd say the one I really like to put an emphasis on would be our career services, because they have advisors where they can give you advice on resumes, job applications, sitting for interviews and things like that. And they also know people who are involved in bigger companies and they can help with that interest.

Bridget Burns:

Okay. And that's something we hear frequently that you need, especially early on in the academic career. So Lisa, do you want to share a bit more about your experience now, building on that? Has it been the same, been different? Can you share with us a little bit of reaction to the concept?

Lisa Kennedy:

I think for me at least, I've benefited greatly from the Georgetown Scholars program, which is the organization Georgetown has for first generation and or low income students. And so through that supplemental program I've had access to career development, professional development, community on campus, academic support, financial support. And so just speaking for myself, I think Georgetown does a great job of supporting the first generation low income students they have on their campus, but there aren't many of course. So that's an issue I'd have.

Bridget Burns:

Is that what you've experienced… is just a feeling of isolation or loneliness or that you're not the typical Georgetown student?

Lisa Kennedy:

Oh yes, of course. I know we all might have an image in our minds of a typical Georgetown student, white, wealthy, continuing generation college student. And yeah, definitely not fitting into that mold. I think in my first few weeks on campus before I really decided to utilize the Georgetown Scholars program as a resource, I felt very, very isolated. And those first few weeks were very hard.

Bridget Burns:

Yeah.

Jeff Selingo:

Desirée, how about you? You're an adult student, you've come back to college, you're going to graduate in May. Talk to a little bit about your student experience. What's worked, what's hasn't?

Desirée Vanderloop:

Well, Morgan's done an exceptional job at providing resources specific to adult learners. They have an entire division that is devoted to adult learners returning to finish their degree. They have allowed opportunities for up to 90 credits to be transferred in, as I am a transfer student to the institution. But they have also curated programs and curriculum that I was able to benefit from with having so many credits matriculating into the university that I didn't have to retake a lot of courses that would've required me to have an additional financial burden. But they were also able to have a team of advisors to let me know what classes I needed specific to take to finish my degree. They provided resources for funding. I was able to obtain a scholarship that was able to pay for the remaining of my studies, which was a huge financial burden lifted.

And they actually facilitate periodic meetings for all of the adult learners to come together, share their experiences, what's working, what's not working, so that we can actively provide feedback on how to improve the program. So my experience so far has been very well. So far I've been able to take a plethora of classes that are actually of my interest and that will be transferable job skills once I do graduate with my degree, which is really important, is to actually feel prepared after your degree to go into the workforce. Even though I've been in the workforce for over 17 years, I've been learning so much. And a part of my specific program is being able to receive credit for that work experience. And I think that's very important as an adult learner, is to be able to utilize the experience that you've already had and to receive credit by reflecting on those experience and what you intend to do and actually have a plan after graduation.

Bridget Burns:

So your experience, we are always talking about adult learners. I think right now in higher ed we're trying to figure out how to do a better job supporting and onboarding and bringing folks in and really making sure that the university works for them, but we're not great at it. And so I want to know, how did you end up at Morgan State? What about the programs there and how you were supported made it possible for you to finally finish your degree this May?

Desirée Vanderloop:

Certainly. So I'm originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, but through an acquisition of the company that I was formerly working at, they had moved me to Columbia, Maryland. And once I had moved here, I began making friends that were alumni from Morgan in particular. And so Morgan had been on my radar, but at the same time I had been at two institutions prior to Morgan. And my biggest concern was being able to fit in my work life, which was non-negotiable, with finishing a degree. Which to me personally was a non-negotiable, but I had to have a priority of work and then whatever I could fit in after that work. Family first, and whatever it could fit in after that would just have to follow along. So I had looked into programs at Morgan to see what classes, I first looked at the classes that would be available to accommodate my schedule.

And I happened to be on LinkedIn one day and I saw a post from Morgan State that they were going to be implementing a new program specific for adult learners that had accumulated a certain amount of credits that they could transfer into the institution. And they created an interdisciplinary college for individuals to select from a series of different career pathways or degree pathways that they could focus on based on the credits that they have accumulated, they could form into a degree. So for me, it's engineering, information and computational sciences. I have been working between healthcare and technology over the last decade, so I'm actually able to pick a degree that suits not only my experience, but the courses that I've already accumulated and the direction that I'm headed for my field of interest. So they've really been able to accommodate from start to finish, literally me putting in my application.

I was shortly connected with an advisor to go over my credits that were transferred in from previous institution. They asked me what my goals were and that was the first, when it came to an institution matriculating, actually asking me what my goals were so that they could get a better understanding on how to prepare resources for me to obtain those goals. So from start to finish, they have provided me with resources, connected me with an advisor, created a degree plan for me to finish the remaining credits. And I started in the spring of 2022 this past year at Morgan. And I'm going to be able to finish in May of next year.

Bridget Burns:

I love it. And for folks who are listening at home, that is not the norm. Oftentimes when we think about adult learners, you throw a night class every once in a while or maybe we'll let you go Zoom U, or here's an old MBA.

Desirée Vanderloop:

Yes.

Jeff Selingo:

So Lisa, I want to talk to you about your experience. So you grew up in rural Wisconsin. Rhinelander, Wisconsin. So think by the way, really northern Wisconsin. And you graduated with about 200 students. Now there are more than 25,000 high schools in the US and most never send anyone ever to a selective university like Georgetown. And you were telling us that Georgetown wasn't even on your radar until the pandemic. So tell us what happened. How did you end up at Georgetown?

Lisa Kennedy:

Well, it's actually a funny story. So I think probably lots of you guys, I did a lot of binge watching of YouTube and TV shows at the beginning of the pandemic in March and April. And right about at that time there was a trend on YouTube of high school seniors applying to tons of colleges, like 20, 30 colleges, and they would record their reactions to their admissions decision. And I just watched all of those videos. That was prime entertainment for me. And neither of my parents went to college. My older brother had gone to college, but he remained in state like most people from my high school had, if they did decide to go to college, which also was not the norm.

And so I was watching some of these videos and lots of people who said that they wanted to go into law or they wanted to go into government or politics said that Georgetown was the place to do it. It was in D.C., that was the place to study government and politics. And so I just decided, "Okay, that's my dream school. I guess Georgetown's my dream school, then." But prior to the pandemic, I never even considered applying to any colleges outside of Wisconsin. That's not really what people did. And it's definitely not what people whose parents didn't go to college do. So that's how I got to know Georgetown. But also because of the pandemic, lots of their recruitment materials were moved online. So I was able to tour Georgetown from northern Wisconsin because they created virtual tours and they did virtual open houses and stuff like that. So that was brought right to my bedroom.

Bridget Burns:

Jalen, I want to talk to you about something that is really top of mind for especially predominantly white institutions trying to figure out how they do a better job serving and supporting and recruiting and really creating belonging for Black males. So higher ed lost about 1.3 million students during the pandemic in terms of enrollment. And much of what we lost were from communities of color and low income communities. But we saw, especially men and Black men, and I know you're involved in the Black Male Success Initiative at Mason. I'm hoping that having been part of that, that you have a perspective about the things that were really helpful for you in terms of feeling like you truly belonged at the institution and created that sense of community. So I just want to know, what do colleges, from your perspective, what do they need to do, especially predominantly white ones, to attract, enroll, and retain more Black males in particular?

Jalen Stubbs:

Well, I think having student entities such as the Black Male Success Initiative, that plays a huge role in recruitment and getting and keeping Black males at predominantly white institutions.

Bridget Burns:

Can you share a little bit about what that has been like for you? What is the initiative?

Jalen Stubbs:

Yes. So our goal really is to increase the retention rate for Black male students and their graduation rate, essentially. So a lot of what we do is we host a lot of on campus and off campus events. We have study halls and we also provide tutoring for students who are struggling in classes and things. And so my position in the business is I'm the director of communications, so I have to do a lot of the promoting on our social media platforms, reaching out and things and things like that.

But for me, in my experience, I think what really drove me to put myself out there more and get more involved was after the pandemic year, which was my sophomore year, it forced me to say, "Okay, I have two more years here. And so I really need to make the best out of this, make the best out of my experience here and help others and to leave something for incoming Black male students to implement from and to use and to utilize for the future of Mason." And so I want to be able to create that community and leave something for them to use in order to again, keep to our goal and to just increase the retention rate for Black male students.

Bridget Burns:

Okay, that's great. I hear this a lot that it's making big places feel small, that's really important. And it sounds like this allowed you to have a big university. You found a smaller sense of community and place where you had other folks who you have a lot more in common with. But I want to understand, you could have gone to an HBCU, the choice to go to Mason. I want to understand what advice would you give for folks who are leading institutions that are predominantly white? How'd make that decision? And are there things that would early on signaled to you that you were wanted here and that you would belong here?

Jalen Stubbs:

So what really brought me to George Mason is I grew up in Montgomery County, Maryland. So it's a very diverse community. And so I felt that presence when I first went to Mason, I felt that this is somewhere that I could really thrive based on where I grew up and how I'm really used to learning. I did apply for other HBCUs as well, but the thing that drew me to Mason the most was that I knew this was a place for me to really stand out and really make a name for myself because I want to be able to be an impact for not just Black male students, but for all Black students. And I want to be able to really represent something there, even after I leave Mason.

Jeff Selingo:

It's interesting, Jalen, you said a word, a sense of belonging. And when we think about the interviews that we've done over the last year with students as part of the campus tour for the podcast, two things keep coming up. One is a sense of belonging that students have this sense in the classroom outside the classroom. And the other is a sense of purpose. Because if you're sitting in a classroom or you're sitting on campus and you're not quite sure why you're there, what's the ultimate purpose of your education, you think, "I'm not going to stay." And so it comes down to those two elements in many ways.

And I want to dig a little bit deeper on those with each of you. Desirée, let's start with you because last year when we did our 100th podcast, we asked three college presidents, Michael Sorrell, Pat McGuire and Michael Crow about the next five years in higher education. And what was interesting to us is that without any prompts, they all said the future is about adult learners. And I think so much of our audience here in higher ed is thinking the answer to declining numbers of 18-year-olds is to simply replace them with adult students, but it's really not that easy. So any advice for colleges about what they need to do to give adult students a sense of belonging on campus and purpose in pursuing an education at that point in their life?

Desirée Vanderloop:

Well, the first thing would definitely be providing the resources that adult learning and matriculation at that university is feasible. A lot of adult learners are juggling family, they're juggling work. So the idea of trying to fit anything else into a schedule, there's never enough time in the day, may seem impossible to some. So to provide resources in the terms of flexibility of classes, class course offerings, are they remote? Are they hybrid? Do I have opportunity to come on campus? Am I solely restricted to I can only do online work? That may not be feasible for a person that may be taking a math class and maybe they need in person and instruction or hybrid. So having the availability and flexibility of course offerings is very important. Being realistic on the goals for that individual, for them to actually be able to pick a major that applies to either what they are currently doing or what they would like to do.

And providing that continuous feedback and engagement with those students, that they are also a part of the institution, that they are more than welcome on campus. There are resources for you to come on campus, you are not restricted or defined on your situation. And to let them know that their journey is their own journey, not to compare themselves with other students. I also found myself comparing myself to traditional students often, and it diminished my experience and feeling that I'm not able to do ...

Jeff Selingo:

What they do.

Desirée Vanderloop:

... the same things that they're doing, when in actuality I am. I can attend the same career fairs that they have access to. I can apply for internships, I can do research. It's very important that institutions instill in all of their students that all of their journeys are just as equally important and that they have the support from the institution behind them. If I need to pause, take a break, take one class at a time, that all these things are taken into consideration. And just making sure that you're providing, again, providing those resources are so important for adult learners to feel supported along the way, the entire way.

Jeff Selingo:

Yeah.

Bridget Burns:

Lisa, I want to talk to you about Georgetown and what was as a first generation college student, a little bit more. Like a lot of highly selective institutions, they enroll a lot of wealthy students who are second generation, and that means that there's often messages throughout the campus unintentionally about who the ideal student is, right? You spoke a little bit about that, but just when you first arrived on campus, can you share a little bit more about the first signals that let you know that you were wanted here or if there were things that made you feel unwelcome? You took a class your freshman year called Mastering the Hidden Curriculum, which is something I think a lot of institutions really need because there is hidden curriculum. It was a pass/fail course and it was for first gen low income students, so I'm wondering what things do you take from that course and actually share with people who are thinking about going to college? Are there any lessons that you're like, "This is the stuff I would tell you?"

Lisa Kennedy:

Oh, absolutely. And I love talking about Mastering the Hidden Curriculum. I really think it changed my college experience for the better. But I'll talk a bit about my experience once I got to Georgetown. So of course it was a big culture shock. I'm from rural Wisconsin, my parents didn't go to college and now I'm here and people are talking about office hours and we have new student convocation and we have to dress very nice. And I had no idea what any of that was.

And I get there and I didn't know anybody and I assumed everybody would be in the same situation. We're all going to college, of course we don't know anybody. But then everybody already has these friend groups from these elite East Coast prep schools that serve as large feeder schools to Georgetown. And so immediately I felt as though I was an outsider on Georgetown's campus, that I didn't really fit in and that it wasn't really meant for students like me.

But the Georgetown Scholars Program within the first week of arriving on campus started that programming. They distributed bedding for first year students in the program. They had our induction into the program where we talked, they told us a bit about what to expect and that we should never feel that we aren't worthy of being at Georgetown, that we're smart enough to be here. We were accepted on our own merit. And so right in that first semester, I signed up for Mastering the Hidden Curriculum and it was for the Georgetown Scholars Program, GSP students. And they taught us explicitly what is office hours.

They taught us about imposter syndrome and how to combat that. They taught us how to read academic articles, how to interact with faculty. These are all things that I did not know coming in. I never would've talked to a professor or gone to office hours because I felt that that was disrespectful. You don't talk one on one with a professor, you don't approach a professor in that way. They're an authority figure. And so just understanding that these are things that continuing generation and students who have attended college preparatory schools know, it helps level the playing field a bit.

Jeff Selingo:

So I want to ask each of you just this one last question around the essence of the student experience. Because there's a lot of moving parts on campuses, right? You were talking about faculty, you were talking about programs, you were talking about staff and offices and things like that. But when you think about your success on campus so far, what is the one thing? Is it a person and what role do they play? Are they a faculty member? Are they a coach? Are they an advisor? Is it a piece of technology that really helps you understand how you're getting through college? Is it an office? Is it a club? Is it a class? If you had to break down the essence of what is driving helping drive your success, because obviously it's not the only thing. What is that one thing? What is the essence of that one thing? Jalen, let's start with you.

Jalen Stubbs:

Yes. Well, I'll have to say my former professor, Troy Lowery, I was in his UNIV 101 class. And basically what that class was, it was a freshman class for students to really learn more about the campus, how to get around, how to find resources and everything. And so I implemented everything that I've learned in that class to keep me, to allow me to be successful at Mason. The skills that I've learned, the networking skills I've learned, what classes to take and things like that. Troy and I actually made a huge connection. We actually met him the summer before my freshman year and being both military brats, we were able to really form that relationship. And so I'm grateful to have met him coming into Mason because he's allowed me to network with other people and other big names and continue my success moving forward.

Jeff Selingo:

Okay. So a person, a faculty member. How about you Lisa?

Lisa Kennedy:

I'd have to say the Georgetown Scholars Program, GSP, I think they just have done an amazing job of institutionalizing the sorts of initiatives that we talk about in helping first generation low income students. You can have one-off events, you can have a one-off event where you talk about office hours or you talk about etiquette. But I think GSP has really institutionalized that process where they have a class for it and they have yearly programs and they have a necessity fund that is fully endowed. So I think it's a one-stop-shop for really everything I need, and I felt fully supported by the GSP community and everything it does.

Jeff Selingo:

And important there that it's an integrated program rather than just as you said, a one-off, a program here or program there. How about you, Desirée?

Desirée Vanderloop:

Well, the Center for Continuing and Professional Studies at Morgan, overall, they facilitate dialogue for all of their students to provide continuous feedback. So pretty much every other week they will follow up with each of their students and ask how are we doing? Are there any concerns, questions, barriers that we are experiencing with any of our coursework? And if there's any additional support that they may need. And so that's very important because I also feel as an adult learner sometimes, because whether that means you're older or non-traditional, you might be afraid to ask for help. You might be afraid to ask for resources. So to have someone continuously check up on you and provide information, is there anything that we can do to support you and help you, is always having that reassurance that they're very much supportive of me being a student here at this institution and that they are doing their due diligence to make sure that I'm successful.

Michal Horn:

An engaging conversation there with Bridget and Jeff and three very different students who illustrate the range of personas that colleges and universities today are serving or could serve. I especially like how Lisa reminded us to check our bias of, quote, the "typical Georgetown student," white, wealthy, continuing generation college student and how isolated she felt in the first few weeks because she was not that.

Or Desirée's point about how Morgan State, quote, "curated programs in a curriculum," so that she didn't have to retake a lot of courses. Now, there was also a live in-person audience for the recording that day with Jeff and Bridget, those who were attending the Chronicle Festival at ASU's D.C. campus. And they had questions for these students as well. And when we come back after the short break, we'll hear their responses to some of the questions from the audience.

This episode of Future U. is sponsored by Ascendium Education Group, a non-profit organization committed to helping learners from low income backgrounds reach their education and career goals. Ascendium believes that system level change and a student-centric approach are important for our nation's efforts to boost post-secondary education and workforce training opportunities. That's why their philanthropy aims to remove systemic barriers faced by these learners, specifically first generation students, incarcerated adults, veterans, students of color, adult learners, and rural community members. For more information, visit ascendiumphilanthropy.org.

Jeff Selingo:

This episode is being brought to you by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Today's college students are more than just students. They are workers, parents, and caregivers and neighbors and colleges and universities need to change to meet their changing needs. Learn more about the foundation's efforts to transform institutions to be more student centered at usprogram.gatesfoundation.org.

Michal Horn:

Welcome back to Future U., where Jeff and co-host Bridget Burns got to talk with three current students about their experience navigating higher education at the Chronicle Festival, which was held in DC in November. There was a live audience there for this recording. And near the end, Jeff and Bridget took questions from several audience members, including this one from Terri Givens, the author of Radical Empathy: Finding a Path to Bridging Racial Divides. Here it is.

Terri Givens:

I'm first generation too, as I'll be discussing in a little bit. But I think it's interesting that we have these courses. We did this when I was a provost at Menlo College, but what if we taught the faculty? So that the faculty in every class would start off with not assuming that students know all this stuff. I'm curious what you think about that idea and how that might impact your career.

Desirée Vanderloop:

I think it's also really important for faculty to acknowledge that their student body is made up of completely different types of learners, different types of students with varying backgrounds and all of those different things. So it's important for them to take into consideration that I want to get to know who my students are. That could be a survey, that could be a conversation, that could be icebreakers, breakout rooms, however you see fit, to see who you are teaching, what they're learning other than, "What's your major, what's your name, where you're from?" But really getting to know who your students are so that you can articulate and communicate with those students on a better level. Not assuming that everyone's coming here at 18 or 18 to 22. You might have someone, I have someone in my cohort that's pushing 70. He's just decided he wanted to finish what he started over 30 year years ago when he started at Morgan. So it's important to understand your student body and open up that communication with them.

Michal Horn:

There was also this question from Arthur Jones who is a producer and reporter at ABC News and was in the audience for the podcast.

Arthur Jones:

I did have an important question for, I think everyone in the room would like to know as everyone to higher education leader, you all clearly are bright shining students, all three of you, and successful at what you've done so far. But there's going to be a high school student or a younger person listening to this who says, "College is not worth it." How do you convince them?

Desirée Vanderloop:

College is not worth it?

Arthur Jones:

College is not worth going to. What would you say to that person listening?

Jeff Selingo:

Lisa, let's start with you on that because you mentioned a lot of your high school didn't go to college.

Lisa Kennedy:

Yeah, this is something that I'm super, super interested in. And it's funny, I go back home and I would playfully get made fun of for going to somewhere like Georgetown because most people don't see the value in a college education and that's completely okay. There are different paths, lots of my best friends went to trade school, lots of my best friends went straight into the workforce. But I do think the research has shown that getting a four year college education is the key to upward mobility at this point. And so while it isn't for everybody, I think it's important to see the benefits of a college education. And I think just being scared of moving away from home or just leaving your family isn't really a sufficient, and I think it's so important to learn from different perspectives and live in a place very different from your home.

Jalen Stubbs:

The way that I would go about it is to really address them and just ask them to explore their passion first and to really do research on schools that will be able to provide for them, for that passion. And then maybe they can consider pursuing a higher education and with a higher education as well, you're more likely to get a job. And so that's another thing I would really emphasize to them. We know that not everyone wants to go into college right away, but I'd at least tell them to do their research on it first and then see how that's going to benefit them later on.

Michal Horn:

Jeff, that was a conversation that was both insightful and illuminating and frankly it made me really sorry that I missed it. But before we leave this episode, I'm just curious what your key takeaways were from the day.

Jeff Selingo:

Michael, we really did miss you, but thanks again to Bridget Burns for guest co-hosting with me. And there were three things that really struck me about the conversation. First, as I said before, we had three students who represented different personas in higher education. And it's clear to me that colleges need to do much more in terms of segmentation analysis on their students. What are the motivations and mindsets for going to college? Because clearly even these three students had different motivations and mindsets for why they wanted to go and then designing programs around them. So think about Desirée at Morgan State or Lisa in her first generation program at Georgetown and the Black Male Initiative at George Mason. All three of the programs that these students were part of are integrated across the years, and they're not just one off programs. And so I think that's a real important takeaway to think about when we're talking about students.

Second was how the students found these universities, right? For all the marketing about what makes colleges and universities unique, this still remains an incredibly messy process that's full of a lot of friction. There was Desirée who found Morgan State through a LinkedIn post, and then there was Lisa who was watching other students get their college's acceptances and recording them on YouTube. And then finally there was that question from the ABC producer in the room about not only how colleges can attract students to their campuses, but more so how they can attract students to higher education in general. And I think this is a new marketing challenge for colleges and universities because we know that there's increased questioning about the value of higher education. And so it's clear to me that colleges and universities are not only going to need to advertise and market their own institutions, but increasingly they're going to need to talk about the value of higher education in general.

Michal Horn:

It's a big lift for the sector, but an important one. I appreciate you providing the summary, Jeff, and thank you also to the Chronicle of Higher Education for inviting us to record the podcast at the Chronicle Festival. And finally, a thank you to all of you for joining us on this episode of Future U.

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