Monthly Archives: August 2012

College Moving-In Week: the packing list.

Mod Squad Pete is five days away from moving into his dorm and — no surprises here — still working on his shopping list.

Bed, Bath & Beyond offers an online catalog…

He started early with a laptop purchase in June. We decided against purchasing the full dorm-room bedding set offered by his college (and I wrote about that here), but it took until yesterday for us to get to the store to buy sheets (and mattress pad, foam layer, duvet, duvet cover, etc.). Today he’s out with Mod Squad Dad picking up a refrigerator.

While I sought out lists and advice online (see What to Pack When Heading to College by Kelci Lynn Lucier, who also writes at College Parent Handbook), Pete said he had a mental list. I let that go until a week ago when we returned from family road trips and looked at the calendar.

Then Pete looked online for help and typed up a page full of items. He didn’t organize his list into categories, but Bed, Bath & Beyond offers this breakdown:

…or a simple check list.

  • Sleep
  • Organize
  • Wash
  • Eat
  • Study
  • Relax

Last night Pete started looking through his closet, thinking about what clothes to bring and what to leave. We’ve read college student advice against taking an entire wardrobe, so he’s leaning toward taking the variety he wants, but just enough for about three weeks or so, guessing at how often he’ll do laundry. Since it will still be warm here for a few more months, he doesn’t need sweaters or jackets or many jeans and chinos, for that matter. He’ll take a navy blazer and a tie, but no suit.

From Ms. Lucier, cited above:

Call me old-fashioned, but here’s the deal: Your student should be able to fit everything they need in your car. Yes, your car. (Exception: If your student is moving into an apartment and you need to furnish the place, you can break this rule.) Your student can get by with much less than they might think, and too many students bring too much stuff at the beginning of their first year in school.

Pete also has the advantage of parents living nearby. If he needs any particular item, one of us could drop it off.

[I won’t go into detail here about the potential disadvantages of parents living nearby. Pete knows we will not be dropping by unannounced nor uninvited.]

Pete has coordinated large-ticket items with his roommate:  Pete’s bringing the fridge and microwave, his roommate is bringing the printer and a TV. They have not discussed color schemes — one more thing I think might be different when M.S. Julie starts packing in a couple of years. Yet, to turn the stereotype on its head, Pete has the greater need for a shoe organizer.

Oh, yes, this week is all about focusing on the details and putting off thinking about that bigger picture:  he’s leaving home.

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On Doonesbury and for-profit colleges: the numbers.

Last week Garry Trudeau focused his daily Doonesbury strips on the high debt, high CEO pay, and low grad rates associated with for-profit colleges. I wrote about it here with links to the first three strips, and you can click to see the Thursday and Friday strips.

Since some of those numbers seem outrageous at first reading, especially since they’re presented in a comic strip, I included links to the news article sources, including the Harkin report and a NYT article.

Last week Pro Publica also published an article on the same topic:  The For Profit Higher Eduction Industry, By the Numbers. Written by Suevon Lee, here’s part of the intro:

The report has provoked some pushback. The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, a membership organization composed of accredited for-profit schools, issued a statement criticizing what it saw as “continued political attacks” on the for-profit sector. Saying the report “twists the facts to fit a narrative,” it went on to challenge several figures.

It didn’t contest the following numbers.

Go read the piece. Trudeau got it right — the numbers are outrageous.

One reason why this is a big story:  Industry growth.

766,000 = number of students enrolled in for-profit higher education schools in 2001
2.4 million = number of students enrolled in for-profit higher education schools in 2010
225 = percent by which enrollment at for-profit colleges grew between 1998 and 2008
Two reasons why, if you know someone interested in taking a for-profit college course, you might suggest the local community college.
1.  Cost of education.
$35,000 = average cost of a two-year associate’s degree at a for-profit college
$8,300 = average cost of an associate’s degree at comparable community college
2.  Loan — and debt.
96 = percent of those enrolled in for-profit schools who take out student loans
13 = percent of students at community colleges who take out student loans
35,202 reasons for-profit colleges will work hard to recruit students plus 78 million reasons to ignore them:  Recruitment and lobbying.
35,202 = number of recruiters hired by 30 for-profit higher education companies in 2010 — roughly, one recruiter per 49 students enrolled at a for-profit college
3,512 = number of career services staff employed by for-profit schools in 2010
$78 million = amount Apollo Group Inc. agreed to pay in December 2009 to settle a whistleblower lawsuit for tying University of Phoenix recruiters’ pay to student enrollment
7.3 million reasons why, if you’re offered an executive position, you’ll do better at a for-profit than a non-profit:  Executive compensation.
$7.3 million = average compensation of CEOs at for-profit higher education companies in 2009
$3 million = average compensation of five highest-paid presidents of non-profit colleges and universities in 2009
$1 million = average compensation of five highest-paid leaders of large public universities in 2009
Meanwhile, this week Trudeau explores the world of Walden University wondering what will happen if it goes public. Start here and watch out for the fighting flashdrives.
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College: non-profit or for-profit? Doonesbury weighs in.

In case you haven’t seen it in this week’s daily papers, Garry Trudeau reports on the astounding amount of revenue for-profit colleges take in, and how attractive that might look like to non-profit administrators.

See the first strip here. Tuesday. Wednesday.

Per usual, this Doonesbury topic coincides with real news about for-profit colleges. See Why the Harkin Report on For-Profit Colleges Really Matters. Some excerpts below:

…it’s important to acknowledge the report’s true significance: it puts thousands of pages of internal company documents into the permanent record, providing crucial evidence that fraud and abuse have run rampant throughout the sector, and especially at some of the country’s largest for-profit college companies.

Over the last decade, both publicly-traded and private-equity owned for-profit higher education companies have come under scrutiny from federal and state regulators, and have faced numerous lawsuits by former employees, students, and shareholders over allegations that they engaged in misleading recruitment and admissions tactics to inflate their enrollment numbers. Many of these companies have been accused of routinely recruiting and enrolling unqualified student and sticking them with huge amounts of debt for training from which these individuals were unlikely to benefit.

Yet, time and again, these actions have ended in settlements, in which the companies agree to pay a fine but do not admit to any wrongdoing. What’s more, as part of the terms of these agreements, evidence of abuses that has been unearthed is put under seal, hidden permanently from public view. (For examples, see here, here, here, and here.)

Trudeau cites $32 billion in taxpayer money going to these ‘failure-factories.’ Here’s the NYT article, which provides that number as well as the average $7 million paycheck for the CEOs:  Harkin Report Condemns For-Profit Colleges.

The Apollo Group, which operates the University of Phoenix, the largest for-profit college, got $1.2 billion in Pell grants in 2010-11, up from $24 million a decade earlier. Apollo got $210 million more in benefits under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. And yet two-thirds of Apollo’s associate-degree students leave before earning their degree.

Meanwhile, an associate degree or professional certificate program costs about four times as much as those through community colleges or public universities.

The most expensive college education:  where you leave with debt and no degree.

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4 Summer Tasks for College Prep.

Mia finds shade for the dog days of summer.

It’s fairly easy to find lists of what high school and middle school students should be doing to prepare for college admissions. Some include studying for SATs, embellishing the resume, taking summer courses. You can see such lists…

Last summer I wrote about the to-do lists Mod Squad Pete faced as we encouraged him to work through essay drafts and more before his senior year started. See Is it rough being a HS senior? He might agree that was helpful. (Then again, he might not.)

But our suggestions (read: requirements) for the younger teens in the household are fairly basic:

  1. Learn something (anything) new.
  2. Read.
  3. Get really good at something you enjoy.
  4. Work (for the household, as a volunteer, and/or for pay).

It’s important to us that they learn and grow. Sure, some of this translates into college admissions prep. More important than that, however, is life prep:  choosing to get better at something, learning how much effort it takes to get better, finding new interests, adding new skills, and working in support of the family, the community, and a paycheck.

Mod Squad Linc is a rising 8th grader. Here’s a glimpse of his summer tasks.

Learn something new.  He chose the guitar.

The first Calvin and Hobbes treasury.

Preferred reading.

Work at something you enjoy so you get really good at it.  He chose piano and voice, basketball, and soccer.

Read. He chose collections of Foxtrot, Calvin & Hobbes and numerous thick YA novels. We chose Steinbeck, T H White, James Fenimore Cooper.

Work. Linc has to do minimal (my word, not his) chores each day and a few hours now and then on larger chores. The time spent on these was minimal compared to hours spent honing computer game skills and cooling off at the pool (usually post-basketball).

M.S. Julie is a rising junior and paying closer attention each month to what she might do to prepare for college admissions. Here’s what her summer has included:

Learn something new. We recommended some form of coding; Julie has done that as well as spending hours designing earrings.

Required reading.

Work at something you enjoy so you get really good at it. She chose basketball and graphic design, including doing pro bono work for a cousin’s start-up to build her design portfolio.

Read. High school required John Lewis’s memoir Walking with the Wind, Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, and a Spanish novel, San Manuel Bueno, Martir, plus writing responses to questions on the books and creating audio recordings in Spanish about a number of topics. She added her own very long list of books for fun, including some Foxtrot volumes.

Work. Julie covered all the options. 1) Same as her brothers, she has a number of regular household chores. 2) As a volunteer, she worked with her Chem teacher on developing the curriculum for a flipped classroom and assisted an elementary school teacher with summer school students. 3) For pay, Julie is tutoring two students in math; they don’t need remedial work, but their parents didn’t want them to lose ground over the summer break. Finally, she is awaiting word on a restaurant job, which may not happen until Pete leaves for college, opening up a position.

Linc and Julie are likely to face the same required tasks next summer, though we’ll probably suggest she work on essay drafts, too. Maybe she can work Foxtrot into an essay.

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