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New crowdsourced student affordability guide goes viral at University of Michigan

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 00:00

Early this year, University of Michigan’s student government published on affordability guide that some on the campus found particularly tone-deaf -- there were suggestions like not buying the newest clothes, canceling a maid service, or cooking at home (when some students probably can’t even afford food).

It was panned and eventually no longer made public. It inspired, however, a different document -- a road map called Being Not-Rich at UM, tips written by students and alumni who had financial difficulty in college.

In contrast to the student government’s suggestions, these tips were much more practical and direct -- the crowdsourced guide told students where they could go to find day-old bagels and bread that could be purchased at a lower price than normal. It detailed the best campus jobs and why working in food service could be particularly beneficial because of the free meals students could get with every shift.

“Ours is focused specifically on lower- and middle-income students,” said Lauren Schandevel, a junior and creator of the guide. “It’s very honest in some of the struggles we face.”

Schandevel grew up in Warren, a working-class suburb of Detroit, and neither of her parents attended college. Though she went to school in a more affluent neighboring district and felt academically prepared entering the university, she struggled in some college basics because of her background -- she didn’t really take advantage of her professors’ office hours, for example, because she wasn’t quite sure what they were about.

“Culturally, it’s a thing for working-class people to not ask for help,” Schandevel said. “They’re stubborn and do things on their own. I didn’t know if it was a ‘get to know’ your professor or what, and it was something I missed out on.”

When the student government released its guide in January, Schandevel was among those critical of it. She said while the work the student government does on behalf of low-income students does go underappreciated, generally, its members are from a higher income bracket than most students at the university. And it’s “difficult” to get the attention of university administrators on these issues, Schandevel said.

So she posted to Facebook -- would anyone be interested in drafting a guide for poorer students with basic information about work-study, scholarships and unpaid internships?

“I mean, I’d read the shit out of it,” one of her friends responded.

It started out with bare-bones information. Schandevel wrote the introduction, in which she acknowledges some students might feel a little inferior not having been born and raised with a silver spoon.

“Why can’t you land that prestigious internship?” she wrote. “Why didn’t you spend your adolescence being classically trained in piano? Why does everyone seem so much more impressive than you? This guide is for anyone who has ever felt marginalized on campus.”

Though it started out basic, the guide grew quickly after Schandevel's Facebook post went viral around the campus and was written about in the student press there. About a month ago, interest was renewed when Schandevel helped form a new group, the Michigan Affordability and Advocacy Coalition, an extension of the guide that’s working with existing groups catering to low-income students.

Schandevel said the goal is by the end of the summer to clean the guide up as a Google document and publish it in a slicker, more official capacity. It’s already been noticed elsewhere around the country, too, with a version being replicated for students at the University of Texas at Austin.

The document is lengthy -- 70 pages -- and 24 authors were credited in helping create it. It touches on all aspects of college life, including textbooks, clothing, housing, mentorship, study abroad programs and student social dynamics.

For instance, the guide encourages students to have fun on a budget, listing the cheapest happy hours and pushing readers not to be intimidated by some of their more advantaged peers.

“Shitty as it may be, it’s probably best to be honest with your close friends about your financial situation to some degree. They then hopefully won’t overly pressure you to partake in expensive activities,” the guide states.

Kevin Kruger, president of NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, said in an interview he found the guide “super cool,” especially since it was written by students and alumni.

Student affairs work in the last several years has moved toward a more social services-oriented approach, dealing with individual students and cases, rather than just solutions for the entire student population, he said. Making sure these students are identified is important because research shows that financial difficulties most often lead to students dropping out of college and never returning, Kruger said.

While he said institutions are doing better at helping low-income students, some of them, such as elite colleges and universities, haven’t historically dealt with many impoverished students. He said he found the guide exciting because it bypassed the “bureaucratic challenges” some institutions deal with.

“One of the challenges of higher ed is that we sometimes make this a little unintelligible,” Kruger said.

Schandevel said that she thinks the guide succeeds in that respect -- it’s clearer than some of the language the university uses to describe low-income students and the problems they encounter.

“We’re trying to come together, acknowledge these situations, let the university know we exist and how we can be successful on campus,” she said.

DiversityEditorial Tags: College costs/pricesImage Source: iStockIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Diversity Newsletter publication date: Tuesday, April 17, 2018Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Email Teaser: How to ‘Not Be Rich’Magazine treatment: Trending: Trending text: How to ‘Not Be Rich’Trending order: 2

Stanford seeks to improve graduate student advising

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 00:00

In changes aimed at improving the quality of graduate student advising, Stanford University’s Faculty Senate last week voted to require departments to spell out advising expectations for both professors and students.

The body also voted to limit who can serve as a principal dissertation adviser for Ph.D. candidates to current Stanford professors who are active members of the campus’s Academic Council.

Advising remains a key area of concern for Stanford’s 9,400 graduate students, as revealed during a recent planning process for graduate education and four years of student exit survey data, Patricia J. Gumport, vice provost for graduate education, told the Senate at its meeting Thursday.

“Our students’ daily experiences are impacting their education and academic progress as well as their well-being,” Gumport said, according to information from Stanford. “We take seriously all that they are telling us, and we are working together.”

Some 40 percent of students surveyed reportedly cited “availability of faculty” as an obstacle to their academic progress, while 27 percent cited advising as another roadblock.

Faculty members who are leaving Stanford for various reasons may now only serve as co-advisers with a current Stanford professor serving as principal adviser.

Faculty members emeriti recalled to active duty may serve as principal advisers.

Stanford students aren’t alone in their concerns about advising. Graduate students nationwide commonly cite poor advising -- from not feeling like a priority to one's adviser to advising that doesn’t relate to one's career goals -- as a major challenge.

A widely cited study published last month in Nature Biotechnology also linked lackluster advising across academic disciplines to mental health concerns. Among surveyed graduate students with anxiety or depression, half did not agree that their immediate mentors provided “real” mentorship. Responses were similar to questions about whether advisers and principal investigators provided ample support and whether they positively impacted students’ emotional mental well-being. More than half of respondents who experienced anxiety or depression did not agree that their advisers or PIs were assets to their careers or that they felt valued by their mentor.

“These data indicate that strong, supportive and positive mentoring relationships between graduate students and their PI/advisors correlate significantly with less anxiety and depression,” the study’s authors concluded.

“Advising is, along with teaching and research, one of the most impactful things we do here,” David Goldhaber-Gordon, committee chair and professor of physics, said during the meeting. “We hope this will spur conversations among faculty, and between faculty and students, about how the advising relationship works.”

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Colleges announce commencement speakers

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 00:00
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ACE Study Illuminates Opportunities, Challenges of International Joint and Dual Degree Programs

American Council on Education - Sun, 04/15/2018 - 02:30
New study looks at international joint and dual degree programs and their role in helping U.S. colleges and universities establish ongoing, multi-dimensional global partnerships.

Chronicle of Higher Education: It Matters a Lot Who Teaches Introductory Courses. Here's Why.

The first professor whom students encounter in a discipline, evidence suggests, plays a big role in whether they continue in it.

Equity both about getting in - and on - at university

University World News Global Edition - Sat, 04/14/2018 - 05:00
Higher education in the United Kingdom is riddled with inequalities, says Ben Whittaker, National Union of Students (NUS) director of student voice and influence. For many students, opportunities ...

New anti-plagiarism laws not tough enough - Academics

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 22:40
India's tough new anti-plagiarism law drawn up by the higher education regulatory body, the University Grants Commission or UGC, which sets out graded punishments depending on the seriousness of t ...

Putin to boost science research funding by 150%

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 22:16
Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised to increase funding of national science by 150% over current levels by the end of the year, according to the press service of the Presidential Adminis ...

Plagiarism seen to be aiding drop in education standards

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 22:02
The quality of Nigerian university graduates continues to be a source of concern with many of the country's academics and stakeholders pointing to the prevalence of plagiarism and academic dishone ...

Chinese partnership to boost HE infrastructure

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 22:00
Zimbabwe and China have developed a framework that will pave the way for skills and infrastructure development at Zimbabwean universities and in other sectors as the African government pushes to c ...

Chronicle of Higher Education: Facebook Says It Will Help Academics Use Its Data. Here’s How That’s Supposed to Work.

Two professors propose a model for industry-academic partnerships that will allow scholars to explore a question: What impact has social media had on democracy?

Chronicle of Higher Education: College Consultants’ Client Information Was Exposed on Web Servers

Names, email addresses, phone numbers, and other data belonging to consultants who used CollegePlannerPro from 2015 to 2017 were freely available to anyone on servers used by the software company.

Chronicle of Higher Education: How Colleges Can Cultivate Students’ Sense of Belonging

Feeling a connection to their college has been linked to students’ persistence, and even their well-being.

Higher education and equality - Action urgently needed

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 13:02
Significant gains in widening participation and promoting equality in universities could be made by shifting from an admissions system based on 'formal' meritocracy to one of 'fair' meritocracy, s ...

Nations join emerging multi-polar global science system

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 12:56
Research-intensive universities now operate as a single network on a world scale with more and more nations entering this open system particularly built around science research. It is a global net ...

Chronicle of Higher Education: Starter Kit: New to the Faculty

Are you an assistant professor new to the job? A department chair who wants to help freshmen on the faculty in their dizzying first year?

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The role of universities in an era of authoritarianism

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 12:00
Globalisation of higher education is an extraordinary social achievement and has turned universities into the most diverse, multicultural and plural of all global communities. However, it has invo ...

Centre for Global Higher Education Conference

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 11:30
The third international conference of the Centre for Global Higher Education or CGHE, held in London on 11 April and titled "The New Geopolitics of Higher Education", explored issues such as the g ...