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"Maybe you have never heard of Isaiah Renfro. He did not start at the University of Washington, nor did he play in the N.F.L. But you should know his struggle. There are scores like him, young athletes on college campuses grappling with mental illness — a crisis that is only now getting serious attention.
What experts know is this: Recent studies place suicide as the third leading cause of death for college athletes, behind motor vehicle accidents and medical issues.
And nearly 25 percent of college athletes who participated in a widely touted 2016 study led by researchers at Drexel University displayed signs of depressive symptoms.
Since that percentage is roughly in line with the general college population, the findings countered a long-held belief that athletes are less likely than their peers to become depressed — largely because they benefit from regular, emotion-lifting exercise.
As the stigma of mental illness has eased, the reporting of cases has increased. But experts also believe that young athletes now face more stress, which contributes to mental illness, than ever before.
“Performance and parental pressure, social media, more games on TV, more players who think they can go to the pros,” said Timothy Neal, the director of athletic training education at Concordia University in Ann Arbor, Mich., and a nationally recognized expert on mental health and college sports.
The N.C.A.A. is playing catch-up.
“We are still so young in addressing this,” said Brian Hainline, a neurologist who in 2013 became the N.C.A.A.’s first chief medical officer. He cited increasing concern not only about depression, but also about bipolar, eating, anxiety and attention deficit disorders, as well as addiction. “Mental health is our single most important priority.”
What happened to Isaiah Renfro seemed to be a result of this combustible mix, where brain chemistry meets the burdens of reaching success and then maintaining it.
He was hardly alone in his struggle."
RT @BjornLugthart: Werkbezoek en collegiale kennismaking #colleges @GemeenteDelft & @Gem_Rijswijk bij het @EPOorg
RT @Supernetworks: Camp #Fire smoke closes #UC-Berkeley and other Bay Area #colleges #hazardous #air #quality
"Colleges do very well under the status quo. And that’s bad for students and our economy."
"Where is all this money going? Many point to the rise of university administrator salaries and staffs. (You might know them as the college presidents complaining about all these changes Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama want to make to the higher education system.) Another possible culprit is bloated construction costs, which go toward building show palaces for…well, for the administrators to crow about, and attract more students to pay those high tuition rates.
Whatever explanation appeals to you, the failures of the current system point clearly toward supplying a public debt-free option as a way to drive down costs. This would provide an anchor against skyrocketing costs, and force the cleanup of administrative bloat and unnecessary construction spending. You can force public colleges to lower costs as a condition of accepting tuition reimbursement. And if a glut of student loans causes prices to rise, then a free public option would reverse the effect.
This goes back to the core issue: Incumbents prospering from a system don’t have much interest in seeing it change. And those wanting to reform the system must challenge those incumbents. It’s easier to single out the easy villains, the Sallie Maes and the Corinthian Colleges. But that just sidesteps the real opponent, and will lead to something far less than reform.
Most colleges are seen in a fairly benevolent light. Large higher-education institutions are often major employers in their communities. They drive innovation, and provide sanctuary to some of our best thinkers. And for many adults, they are wrapped in the warm and fuzzy gauze of nostalgia. It’s hard to get people to see them as propping up a crisis that is over-burdening students and even stunting the growth of our economy. But until we do, it’s going to be very difficult to see any change."
"Those who tout the advantages of a good education like to conjure an image of some future society full of educated professionals all working stable, fulfilling, and salaried jobs. But even the worst students can look around the world and see through this. They can see the economic instability facing most people, and they know that a good education won’t undo the vagaries of the gig economy, or replace the protections of a union. But, they’re told, if you do well enough in school, then hopefully you won’t have to worry about that stuff.
This false promise was more disheartening that any other realization I had while working with students. Unfair tests, confusing admissions policies, unequal schools — all that is bad but sadly unsurprising, so you can prepare yourself for it. On the other hand, I was not prepared to lie to students about how, if they just figured out trig functions, then everything would be OK.
Education fetishism gives the illusion of fairness to society’s inequalities. Grades and test scores and college rankings mirror the stratification of the economy, and apply a thin veneer of meritocracy to that hierarchy. What students internalize about school is that it is primarily about ranking people. So attempts to improve education are really attempts to make those rankings more accurate, instead of making them less determinative. As long as this is true, then education is not really the solution to society’s problems. Even bold steps to improve schools and bring down college costs will not fix the problem of inequality, since status and sorting are also the results of education in America.
None of this is to say that education is bad or that schools should not be improved for their own sake. Learning things, after all, is fun. Education is great when it’s about teaching people stuff they want to know. But because school has to serve this burden of fixing social problems it is not equipped to fix, it cannot simply teach students interesting things they want to learn. Students should learn trig functions because they are an elegant solution to a complicated problem. They should read Hamlet because it’s a good play. They should learn things because there is value in learning them.
Instead, educators have to rend these subjects apart, breaking them into supposedly marketable skills like “reading comprehension” and “analytical reasoning” so that they can be used to demonstrate a student’s market value and justify patently unjust economic outcomes. As long as this is the case, then not only will inequality fail to get better, but education will continue to get worse. Instead of insisting we can educate ourselves out of the social problems capitalism creates, we should learn something new."
"If you have considerable time on your hands and wish to see just what kind of leftists run universities, go to the graduate school and propose unionizing Research Assistants, Teaching Assistants, and other itinerant quasi-employees. You’ll discover quickly that senior faculty — the same ones who can’t wait to show you their picture with Tom Hayden or some other talisman of progressive cred — turn into staunch capitalists in a hurry.
For the less adventurous, skip grad school and read up on the last two decades in which universities have been forced into the same “run it like a business” model that ruins every public good in this country. This is usually, if not exclusively, driven by GOP political appointees (as trustees) or vengeful GOP state legislative majorities looking to cut spending and score cheap political points with their constituents by showin’ them college boys the what-for.
Administrative bloat — the plague of Dean-lets with highly-paid, nebulous titles like “Associate Dean of Library Engagement” that materialize out of nowhere — is real, and decision-making has become increasingly autocratic. Higher ups push for short-term results like CEOs trying to juice a quarterly earnings report, long-term consequences be damned. “Consultants” making twice faculty salaries for a few weeks of work appear and disappear mysteriously. Constant campaigns for “retention” — a code word for keeping students enrolled and paying tuition at all costs — push faculty toward grade inflation and dumbing-down. Expenses (read: labor costs) are forever squeezed, and demonstrably inferior products like online courses taught by some adjunct paid $2000 per semester are offered to Student-Customers happy to have them so long as they’re easy. More money is spent on administration and less is spent on instruction.
Not quite the organizing principles of an egalitarian commune. Sounds more like the business model of any mundane corporation in America.
Which brings us to the creep of corporate money into every aspect of university research and administration in the 21st Century — a fact that deals the Campus Commies premise a fatal blow. Nothing says “leftist hotbed” quite like Department of Biology, a Proud Partner of Monsanto. The cause for alarm, in fact, is that the direction of university teaching and research increasingly is dictated by donations from politically motivated billionaires and big corporations. If you believe that billions in donations from the Koch Brothers, Silicon Valley tech billionaires, and petrochemical companies is turning campuses ultra-liberal, you are beyond help. I don’t think Marx listed “aligning with corporate interests” as the final ideological step toward communism. None of this is to suggest that professors as a group should be more or less liberal, or that universities should be run more or less like businesses with corporate partners. The point is simply to illustrate the stupidity of the caricature of universities, faculty, and students as a barely-controlled gang of wild-eyed leftists. Were any of the incessant accusations from the right about the Ivory Tower true, campuses would be very different places to work and study. It is a febrile fantasy peddled to people who really enjoy yelling about things they don’t understand and who believe Kevin Sorbo films are documentaries."
"High schoolers are weighing the benefits of blue-collar trades at a time when well-paying jobs—and no debt—are hard to pass up."
"Generation Z Is Skipping College for Trade School
With the job market in flux, younger Americans are trying to avoid an education that comes with a massive amount of debt."
via Christian Science Monitor | All Stories https://www.csmonitor.com/
"Over the centuries, America has bestowed generous, state-sponsored privileges upon select classes of its citizens. Veterans and old people get free socialized healthcare—and, for the most part, they love it. Corporations (who count as people, look it up) get sweet tax breaks and, in the case of defense contractors, no-bid deals to build extremely expensive weapons unlikely to be used in the near future. And young people get thousands and thousands of dollars of student loans to pay for college, putting them in a hole they might spend the rest of their lives digging out of.
Obviously, one of these things is not like the others—the United States has put many students in the position of making decisions that can determine their financial futures when they're teenagers. This has nightmarish consequences: Some 44 million people have $1.5 trillion in student loan debt on the books. And even when young people do get through college and find a decent job, many can't fathom possibly buying a home or taking on other trappings of adulthood when faced with decades of monthly loan bills.
The worst part is that those who sought an elite education on the widely accepted notion that it would help them later in life were basically sold a bad bill of goods.
All that debt provides awfully little payoff in terms of boosted wages, even as it ensnares more and more people and hits youth of color especially hard, according to a new paper released Tuesday by two researchers at the left-leaning Roosevelt Institute. Research fellows Julie Margetta Morgan and Marshall Steinbaum concluded that more and more debt hasn't significantly boosted income for college grads—it just seems that way because high school grads without BAs are making less than they once did. They also found that looking at decent rates of repayment by student debtors is a misleading way to look at the scale of this crisis. And thanks to workers lacking the power they once enjoyed in an increasingly skill-obsessed economy, young people are often being pressured into getting extra degrees on their own dime (which is to say by taking on more debt) for minimal payoff.
For some perspective on how America let student loans get so out of control, why taking on debt is so often a mistake, and what we can do about it, I called co-author Julie Margetta Morgan for a chat.
VICE: Why do you think this has been allowed to get so bad, to the point not only that it's widely known as a crisis, but one that gets worse and worse?
[A] Julie Margetta Morgan: We have seen the overall amount of student debt grow and we've seen some of the industries around repayment get worse over time, although default rates recently got a little bit better. But I think that the reason why it's sort of been allowed to exist as this quiet crisis is that there's not a lot of agreement among experts that, on the whole, student debt is getting worse. I think that's because experts primarily look at measures around successful repayment of the loan as the target. And in this paper we try to take a slightly different look. First of all we interrogate those questions around repayments themselves—so we have a section around, like, experts have said that student debt is not a bigger burden now than it was a generation ago. And yet if you delve into the figures a little bit deeper you can see that, in fact, it is worse—the burden is worse but the repayment plans are slightly better, which masks the burden on students.
So part of what we're trying to do here is combat some of the common wisdom in the higher education policy world—what we tend to hear is: Yeah, students are taking on a lot of debt but ultimately that debt is worth it because their degrees are paying off in the long run. And we're finding that that's not necessarily true.
[Q] Is the most radical conclusion you reached here that the increased debt burden people are bearing is not paying off in terms of boosted income? Or is that already well known?
[A] That higher education is not paying off in terms of overall changes in the distribution of income is definitely apparent to labor economists but not necessarily apparent to higher education policy experts and those who advocate on behalf of students, because we are so often fed the college earnings premium as the single measure of whether college pays off over time. Yes of course college still pays off, but it pays off because it's becoming less and less viable for someone to make a living with just a high-school diploma. It's no longer this thing of, I'd like to earn a higher income, I guess I'll go to college. It's like, I have to go to college in order to not end up in poverty—and I'm also forced to take on debt to get there.
[Q] Is there any evidence that, thanks to income growth in the last year or two, college debt is paying off more than it did?
[A] It remains to be seen, but I'm not sure that it's a good idea for us to tie higher education policy—how we fund college—to the swings of the labor market. Our focus should be on taking the risk off of the individual and spreading it across the public, because the public is getting a lot of the benefit of college degrees.
[Q] Have you seen any indicators that people—including the communities hit hardest by college debt—might actively be avoiding college because of the specter of endless debt?
[A] We have lower levels of college attainment already among African American and Latino populations and we do see polls that suggest people are more and more skeptical of the value of college. And that's exactly the result we don't want to see. We don't want to see the people already discriminated against in the labor market avoiding going to college.
The other trend that comes to mind is this trend of programs that we would have previously considered trade programs, whether they're now being offered at for-profit colleges or as industry credentials that are trying to become part of the mainstream higher education system and get access to the loans. So there's a world in which people are trying to avoid getting the loans but the loans are actually following them to these trade programs.
[Q] But given that discrimination, is it not rational to—in some cases—calculate against attending college given the massive debt burden and how it hits some communities extra hard?
[A] I think it's absolutely at an individual level a rational decision that we're seeing people make. And at a national level we ought to be concerned about that and looking to change policies so people don't have to make that decision.
[Q] I know one of your aims here was to reinforce that this is a worse crisis than people think, but isn't the problem that Republicans just don't care?
[A] There's obviously a group of policymakers who don't want to deal with it. But I think there's another subset of policymakers who are looking at the student debt crisis through the lens of repayment—that the goal is to ensure that people can repay their loans. Keeping people out of default shouldn't be the biggest goal we set for ourselves.
If student debt is a crisis, is the answer that we should have less student debt? Or just that people are able to make their monthly payments? Our answer is that we should have less debt overall.
[Q] Part of your paper is about how workers keep getting pressured to gain new degrees and credentials that load them up with debt—all because they have no power. Is this about unions disappearing, or what would help there?
[A] Certainly the declining power of unions is one part of it. The lack of say for average workers in the decision-making at the companies they work for, the increase in corporate concentration within the economy—the rise of monopoly power makes it harder for workers to have a say, because there are fewer employers. And back during the recession, the scarcity of jobs made it harder for employees to have power and negotiate for themselves.
[Q] It's hard not to read the paper and feel like taking on student loans is maybe (very often) a mistake or even that the larger system is a scam. Even when students are not being preyed upon by for-profit schools or predatory lenders, the whole seems flimsy or even fraudulent. Is that unreasonable?
[A] I don't think it's unreasonable. I think of it as a failed social experiment that young people are caught in the middle of. It wasn't intentionally sold like a scam, but the way young people experience this is they were told: You go to college, you study, don't worry so much about how much it costs, it's going to be worth it in the end. And they get out on the other side, they have a ton of debt, they are working as hard as they can, but they're not getting ahead—they're treading water. They're making payments on their debt, but not able to buy a house, they're not able to save for retirement. You were sold on a promise, you come out on the other hand that that promise was false, and everybody looks at you like, What's wrong?
One of the things I thought was so exciting about writing this paper is it puts data to that deep frustration that we see in younger generations right now.
[Q] It doesn't seem likely that we'll see a major overhaul of the system in DC right now, with unified Republican control. But what can and should be done, the next time Democrats have control of the government, or in the meantime?
[A] There are things we can do right now. it's encouraging to see what's happening in the courts—some great student advocates and lawyers have taken action to make sure the [Education Secretary Betsy] DeVos administration at least enforces rules on the books to help get student loan cancellation for a smaller group of borrowers and limit predatory practices at for-profit schools.
As we look to the future, we have to think a lot bigger. We should be looking at both free and debt-free options for college. Free college at public universities and more debt-free options for students. That's how we take care of generations moving forward.
But we also need to do something about borrowers stuck with debt right now. My sense is we should be taking a really hard look at ways to cancel at least some of the existing debt."
[not quoting the article here, but adding this response from Phoebe Maltz Bovy:
"Where to begin? Maybe where commenters do: why is someone who *edited college admissions essays for pay* lecturing parents on the inauthenticity + unfairness of parents helping kids with theirs?
But also: no “henceforth” (or any other word) isn’t a definitive tell that a 17-year-old got help writing something. But that’s kind of the least of it. The real problem is the admissions essay itself in its current purpose
It’s not a writing sample. It’s not a cover letter. It’s... well, the linked article explains quite well what it is, but unfortunately celebrates it while doing so
"So the good news is: The college essay is the purest part of the application." With purity meaning what, in this context?
Purity as in, *who the applicant truly is as a person*, something colleges go through this whole ritual of pretending 1) that they can figure out via a short (and maybe ghostwritten) essay) and 2) that it's remotely their place ethically to determine
"In fact, a good test of a college essay is: Can the writer convince the reader that she would make a great roommate?" Meaning, "Are you any fun?" Again, the two questions: 1) *can* colleges even assess "fun" from these things, and 2) should as-a-person-ness even enter into this?
What would be the great tragedy if - if the US finds regional-colleges-for-all too bleak or foreign - the assessment really were based on tangibles? (Could be grades, scores, extracurriculars, demographics, could even take into account special circumstances) and not As-A-Person?
Colleges both logistically can't *and shouldn't pretend to* know who applicants are as people, and it's so bonkers that assessment is at all based on how charming (to adults) someone comes across in an essay (that someone else maybe wrote)
The application should be understood by all parties as just that: an application for admission to a school or, if common-app, multiple schools. That's all it is, no more, no less. It's not a Human Worthiness test.
I've written on this before and named the problem as "holistic" assessment. But in a way, that's not even it. Keep "holistic," fine! But be clear that it's holistic assessment *of college applicants* and not *of applicants as human beings*"]
[my addition to that:
"???? to this response thread. There is no “purity” in the admissions process, not even in the essays as the oped claims. This “authenticity” business is just the latest gaming of the hyper-corrupted process in the favor of those that have more."]
via Vox - All https://www.vox.com/
via American Civil Liberties Union https://www.aclu.org/
via Axios https://www.axios.com/top/
via Christian Science Monitor | All Stories http://www.csmonitor.com/
via Vox - All https://www.vox.com/