Thursday, March 13, 2014


Friday Fragments

Unapologetic Family Brag: Mom is the director of career services for the MBA program at the LeBow College of Business at Drexel University, in Philadelphia.  The Financial Times just issued its international rankings of MBA programs.  In the “career services” column, Drexel/LeBow was ranked #1 in the world.

Go, Mom!


If you haven’t yet seen Rebecca Schuman’s anti-Powerpoint Powerpoint, check it out.  

It’s uncomfortably funny because it’s uncomfortably true.  Nicely done.


This week I heard another local story of a student who had a hellish experience in high school, but who got back on track by coming to community college as a dual-enrollment student.  The issue wasn’t academics; it was the need to escape from the dysfunctions of high school culture.

I used to think of dual enrollment as a way to keep bored prodigies from bumping their heads against the ceilings of high school curricula.  Those students still exist, and dual enrollment still serves them well.  But increasingly, I’m seeing non-prodigies use dual enrollment for the sake of escaping a culture that does them no good.  (In some parts of the country, dual enrollment has also become popular among students who have been home-schooled.  I haven’t seen much of that here yet.)

If it were one or two students, I could see them as flukes.  But it’s starting to look like a trend.  

These students are invisible in our political discourse around education, both secondary and higher.  They aren’t high school dropouts, but they aren’t attending high school, either.  “Time to completion” is hard to measure when they’re completing two things at once, and neither in quite the traditional way.  And if a dual enrollment student transfers to a four-year school after completing the high school diploma and, say, twenty or thirty college credits, she counts as a dropout.  Considering what the alternative was, and where she could go in life once she transfers, counting that as institutional failure is nonsense on stilts.

I know I’ve been hitting the “we’re counting wrong!” theme a lot lately, but that’s because we’re counting wrong a lot.  If we’re going to hold colleges “accountable,” let’s at least get the counting right.


The Boy has jazz band practice at dark o’clock every Thursday morning, so I’ve recently had the experience of watching an adolescent boy try to function before the sun comes up.  

In that spirit, I’m happy to see that some school districts are starting to catch up with scientific findings about the adolescent body clock -- and the observations of parents everywhere -- and moving the start of the school day later.  

It’s the kind of forehead-slappingly obvious move that could easily spread even to places that can’t afford other ways to improve.  Here’s hoping it starts to become the new normal.

When I started campaigning to do dual enrollment, my counselor told me it wasn't for bright kids or good students. As far as she was concerned, the program was primarily for at-risk kids who were thinking about dropping out or getting a GED. The program gave them another option that allowed for more autonomy and flexibility (perhaps if they were working or had a kid) but that would result in both a standard high school diploma and some college credit, even and AA or certificate of some kind. It was all pat me on the head this isn't for smart kids like you. This was the mid 90s.
Amen to dual enrollment (and early college programs) as an escape route from toxic high school culture. I just wish that route had existed 30 years ago. I opted for a year-long stint as an exchange student instead, but that isn't an option that's widely available. My son went the early college route for the same reason, and for his sake, I'm deeply thankful that these programs are more common nowadays.

And hey, congrats to your mom!
We get the home-schooled dual-enrolled kids in our math classes when they hit the wall of parental teaching skills. They tend to be pretty independent learners, so it works out well. They also tend to be comfortable being around adults, so college might be a LOT better than taking a class at a HS, but I have seen where there are some socialization issues.

I don't get the transfer point at all. They don't count against us when they leave because they did not enroll as full-time FTIC students. They would have to enroll full-time after graduating HS to count, as I understand it.

Something that is both good and bad is that a kid taking a semester of calculus during a full school year can be deluded into thinking they did "A" work because they got an A in high school and passed the test for credit. Many would have earned a B or C if they took that class in a college semester. They get a real grade when they take a college class as a dual-enrolled student.
Lebow is, don't you worry, touting that ranking all over the place.

Also, their new building is very nice. On cold days I walk through it on the way to my office to give myself a break from the weather.
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