Archive for ‘college life’

March 2, 2015

What makes interns happy?

by Grace

Tech companies do a particularly good job of keeping their interns happy.

Technology companies dominated the list of where interns were most pleased with their jobs (12 of the top 25 were tech companies) — a perhaps unsurprising finding considering that these companies are at the forefront of workplace perks and other job satisfaction benefits for employees. But they’d better watch their backs: Scott Dobroski, a career trends analyst with, says that more old-economy companies — three oil and gas companies made the list this year — are taking a page from the tech playbook to make better environments for interns and employees alike.



What makes interns happy?

No matter the type of companies, Dobroski says the places where interns were happiest offered them three things: 1) real-world, hands-on experience; 2) the opportunity to work with dedicated and smart people; and 3) access to executives and top management.

What should interns do to help them land a post-internship job?

First, network throughout the internship so that even if the department that you currently work for doesn’t have a job opening, you will at least know people in other departments who might be able to give you a job. Second, do research throughout your internship to figure out where the jobs might be. You can do this by occasionally asking the hiring manager or other managers about the chances of getting hired or the company’s hiring outlook. Finally, toward the end of your internship, be sure to meet with your manager for a performance review in which you talk about your potential for a full-time job.

Interns like getting paid for their work.

Interesting that NBC Universal, one of the top ten companies on this happiness list, was recently the target of a “class-action lawsuit contending the interns should have been paid for their work”.  A $6.4-million settlement was shared by thousands of interns, including one kid I know very well.  NBC Universal started paying all interns in 2013, probably contributing to their interns’ happiness.


Catey Hill, “25 companies with the happiest interns”, MarketWatch, Feb 28, 2015.

February 13, 2015

What percentage of college students have disabilities?

by Grace

During the 2011-12 school year, students with disabilities comprised 11% of college enrollment.

Here is the distribution of the types of disabilities from 2008-09

Type of Disability Percentage
Specific learning disabilities 31
ADD or ADHD3 18
Mental illness/psychological or psychiatric condition5 15
Health impairment/condition, including chronic conditions 11
Mobility limitation/orthopedic impairment  7
All others 18

The all others category includes audio, visual, and language impairments, as well as autism.

HEATH can be a resource for prospective college students with disabilities.

The HEATH Resource Center is an online clearinghouse on postsecondary education for individuals with disabilities. Since 2000, the HEATH Resource Center has served as a national clearinghouse on postsecondary education for individuals with disabilities, managed by The George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development. Now, The HSC Foundation has partnered with The George Washington University to expand the content of this resource and to designate it as the official site of The HSC Foundation’s National Youth Transitions Center.

Some colleges provide extra support services.

Almost all colleges provide some level of services for students with disabilities.  The American Educational Guidance Center provides a list of some that go a step further…they offer programs, some quite comprehensive, designed to support students with learning disabilities”.

Most learning disabled college students are no longer receiving the type of support services they did during their K-12 years.

While 94 percent of high school students with learning disabilities get some kind of help, just 17 percent of college students do.

Along with “18-year-olds’ natural inclination to go it alone”, another problem is finances.

Many college disability centers require documentation of a student’s learning disability. A set of tests used to verify whether a student has a disability, necessary for those who have no documentation or haven’t been tested before, costs as much as $5,000, according to academic-support and disability-services coordinators at several colleges and universities — a price tag K-12 schools pay but many higher-education institutions won’t.

While more and more colleges offer innovative programs in which staff members work closely with learning-disabled students, many charge extra for those, too. Some schools have turned to grants and private donors to cover this cost, but students often are expected to pay for the programs.

It’s probably safe to say that most college professors are not knowledgeable about instruction for learning disabled students.

“I think we have to always remember that while professors are amazing experts in content areas, many of them have had no training in pedagogy,” said Williams, who is introducing UDL to three North Carolina campuses. “We have to find practical ways to help them know how to do that.”


Advocates for the deaf on Thursday filed federal lawsuits against Harvard and M.I.T., saying both universities violated antidiscrimination laws by failing to provide closed captioning in their online lectures, courses, podcasts and other educational materials.


Matt Krupnick, “Colleges respond to growing ranks of learning disabled”, The Hechinger Report, February 13, 2014.

December 19, 2014

‘To-do lists are evil’

by Grace

Since I am a slave to my to-do lists, the first item on this list of tips to help you “be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m” made me stop and think.

  1. To-do lists are evil. Schedule everything.
  2. Assume you’re going home at 5:30, then plan your day backwards.
  3. Make a plan for the entire week.
  4. Do very few things, but be awesome at them.
  5. Do less shallow work — focus on the deep stuff.

Here’s more on the evil of to-do lists.

To-do lists by themselves are useless. They’re just the first step. You have to assign them time on your schedule. Why?

It makes you be realistic about what you can get done. It allows you to do tasks when it’s efficient, not just because it’s #4.

Until it’s on your calendar and assigned an hour, it’s just a list of wishful thinking.

Instead of making a list, schedule your tasks.

Scheduling forces you to confront the reality of how much time you actually have and how long things will take. Now that you look at the whole picture you’re able to get something productive out of every free hour you have in your workday. You not only squeeze more work in but you’re able to put work into places where you can do it best.

Yes, this makes sense!  But it means I would have to put more thought into my planning.  Instead of thoughtlessly listing the things I want to accomplish, I would have to think about how many hours are available that day.  It’s a little more work, but if it became a habit it would be easy.

All these tips come from “insanely productive” Cal Newport:

  1. He has a full-time job as a professor at Georgetown University, teaching classes and meeting with students.
  2. He writes six (or more) peer-reviewed academic journal papers per year.
  3. He’s the author of four books including the wonderful So Good They Can’t Ignore You. And he’s at work on a fifth.
  4. He’s married with a young child and handles all the responsibilities that come with being a husband and dad.
  5. He blogs regularly about productivity and expert performance.

And yet he finishes work at 5:30 p.m. every day and rarely works weekends.

He must be doing something right!


Eric Barker, “How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.”, The Week, September 18, 2014.

December 17, 2014

Gifts for college students

by Grace

Do you have a college student on your gift list?

Here’s a list of “20 great holiday gifts for college students”.

This idea caught my attention.

Airplants. These super-cute, trendy plants survive on air — do not plant them in soil — and can be perched anywhere to decorate a dorm room. (Many are under $10).



Holiday Gift Guide: 25 Under $25 for College Students and Young Adults

An electric kettle that boils water in a few minutes for tea or hot chocolate would probably be welcomed by almost any student.



Another idea is to give the gift of experience.  Maybe something like tickets to a concert or cooking lessons would appeal to your college student.

However, for the recipients in my life, I consider cash to be the best holiday gift for young adults.


Lynn O’Shaughnessy, “20 great holiday gifts for college students”, CBS Moneywatch, November 24, 2014.

“Holiday Gift Guide: 25 Under $25 for College Students and Young Adults”, Grown & Flown, December 13, 2014.

December 5, 2014

College students are too delicate for edgy comedy

by Grace

Chris Rock says colleges are too conservative.  But not in their political views.

20141204.COCChrisRock2From a recent interview:

What do you make of the attempt to bar Bill Maher from speaking at Berkeley for his riff on Muslims?3

Well, I love Bill, but I stopped playing colleges, and the reason is because they’re way too conservative.

In their political views?

Not in their political views — not like they’re voting Republican — but in their social views and their willingness not to offend anybody. Kids raised on a culture of “We’re not going to keep score in the game because we don’t want anybody to lose.” Or just ignoring race to a fault. You can’t say “the black kid over there.” No, it’s “the guy with the red shoes.” You can’t even be offensive on your way to being inoffensive.

When did you start to notice this?

About eight years ago. Probably a couple of tours ago. It was just like, This is not as much fun as it used to be. I remember talking to George Carlin before he died and him saying the exact same thing.

Maybe it’s a good thing that we don’t allow college students to be offended, but I don’t think so.

Earlier this year, a new piece of art installed at Wellesley College triggered a petition by students to remove it because the sculpture was “a source of apprehension, fear, and triggering thoughts regarding sexual assault for some members of our campus community”.

ADDED:  Here’s the sculpture.  Scary or silly?



Frank Rich, “In Conversation Chris Rock”, Vulture, November 30, 2014..

November 27, 2014

Poor economy and technology are causing millennials to drive less

by Grace

Although Thanksgiving auto travel this year is expected to be the heaviest since 2007, overall, driving is on a downward trend.

This chart shows that per-capita vehicle miles peaked in 2007, and the correlation of vehicle travel with economic growth is weakening.

Trends in Per-Capita Vehicle-Miles Traveled and Real Gross Domestic Product


For decades, economic growth and vehicle travel were closely correlated. Since the beginning of the 21st century, however, economic growth and vehicle travel have diverged, suggesting a weakening link between the state of the economy and the number of miles Americans drive.

Millenials are driving less.

No age group has experienced a greater change in its driving habits than young Americans.

According to the National Household Travel Survey, from 2001 and 2009, the annual number of vehicle-miles traveled by 16 to 34 year-olds (a group that included a mix of Millennials and younger members of Generation X) decreased from 10,300 miles to 7,900 miles per capita—a drop of 23 percent…

The percentage of young people with a driver’s license has been dropping for years. In 2011, the percentage of 16 to 24 year-olds with driver’s licenses dipped to 67 percent—the lowest percentage since at least 1963.

Percentage of 16 to 24-Year-Olds with Driver’s Licenses


Technology has affected driving habits.

The recent recession no doubt reduced the number of miles young Americans drove, but the economy is clearly not the only factor at play. Members of the Millennial generation have expressed a greater willingness to pursue less auto-oriented lifestyles than previous generations, and have been the first to grow up with access to the mobile Internet-connected technologies that are reshaping society and how people connect with one another. These changes could be playing a role in the dramatic reduction in driving among young Americans.

Drive safely this Thanksgiving weekend.


Tony Dutzik, Frontier Group, Phineas Baxandall, U.S. PIRG Education Fund, A New Direction Our Changing Relationship with Driving and the Implications for America’s Future, Spring 2013.

September 30, 2014

Low-income students face ‘unseen’ barriers to graduating from college

by Grace

Poor academic preparation may be a big challenge for poor students who struggle in college, but another important barrier is social isolation and alienation”.

The effort to increase the number of low-income students who graduate from four-year colleges, especially elite colleges, has recently been front-page news. But when I think about my students, and my own story, I wonder whether the barriers, seen and unseen, have changed at all.

In spite of our collective belief that education is the engine for climbing the socioeconomic ladder — the heart of the “American dream” myth — colleges now are more divided by wealth than ever. When lower-income students start college, they often struggle to finish for many reasons, but social isolation and alienation can be big factors. In “Rewarding Strivers: Helping Low-Income Students Succeed in College,” Anthony P. Carnevale and Jeff Strohl analyzed federal data collected by Michael Bastedo and Ozan Jaquette of the University of Michigan School of Education; they found that at the 193 most selective colleges, only 14 percent of students were from the bottom 50 percent of Americans in terms of socioeconomic status. Just 5 percent of students were from the lowest quartile.

It’s often a struggle for poor students just to gain admission to college, but once on campus their background can create another challenge to graduation.

But once those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds arrive on campus, it’s often the subtler things, the signifiers of who they are and where they come from, that cause the most trouble, challenging their very identity, comfort and right to be on that campus. The more elite the school, the wider that gap. I remember struggling with references to things I’d never heard of, from Homer to the Social Register. I couldn’t read The New York Times — not because the words were too hard, but because I didn’t have enough knowledge of the world to follow the articles. Hardest was the awareness that my own experiences were not only undervalued but often mocked, used to indicate when someone was stupid or low-class: No one at Barnard ate Velveeta or had ever butchered a deer.

Urban students face different slights but ones with a more dangerous edge. One former student was told by multiple people in his small Pennsylvania college town not to wear a hoodie at night, because it made him look “sketchy.” Standing out like that — being himself — could put him at risk.

A related factor is the alienation from their families, who may not be fully supportive of the distance and growth these students have chosen.  One low-inocme, first-generation University of Chicago student wrote poignantly about the social isolation that almost derailed her graduation.  Affordability is only part of the problem.

… My scholarship opened the doors for me, but it didn’t see me through my four years here.

Adult mentors can help, and the Posse Foundation goes a step further by creating a supportive peer group.

How Did Posse Get Its Name? In 1989, Posse Founder and President Deborah Bial was working with talented urban young people. She watched these students go off to college, only to see them return within a semester having dropped out. Knowing that these students were bright and capable, she couldn’t understand what was making them leave college. When she asked them what happened, one student replied, “If I only had my posse with me, I never would have dropped out.” That simple idea, of sending a group—or posse—of students together so they could “back each other up,” became the impetus for a program that today has sent hundreds of students to top colleges and universities throughout the United States.


Vicki Maddensept, “Why Poor Students Struggle”, New York Times, September 21, 2014.

September 8, 2014

Freelancing may be ideal for college students

by Grace

Freelance jobs can be a good way for college students to earn money and enhance a resume.

… Getting a stable job is tough because classes and studying will take up an unpredictable amount of time. Thus, one of the best ways to survive college is to find freelance work….

Some ideas include IT support, graphic design, tutoring, and almost any other type of freelancing.  Baby-sitting and home improvement services are often in demand in college towns.  Check out the complete list of 15 freelance jobs for students to get more ideas.

September 5, 2014

Claims of a college campus rape epidemic are overblown

by Grace

Professor Mark Perry has done the math, illustrating the hyperbole in claims of a college rape epidemic.

We keep hearing in the news about a general “rape epidemic” in America and more specifically about a “campus rape epidemic.” A White House task force headed by Vice-President Biden tells us that “one in five female college students has been assaulted, but that just 12 percent of such attacks are reported.” I’ve demonstrated statistically using actual crime reports from various universities that if the 12 percent under-reporting White House claim is true, then the 1-in-5 claim can’t possibly be true – it’s more like 1-in-20 or 1-in-30. So there’s a little bit of statistical hijinx, misreporting, and hyperbole going on at the White House on this issue.

But before generating hysteria by reporting that there’s a rape “epidemic” (defined generally as “a rapid spread, growth, or development”), has anybody at the White House or elsewhere bothered to actually check the crime data on rapes in the US? Because if they had, they would find that there’s been a steady decline, not an increase, in the frequency of rapes in America for the last 20 years.


Rape victims are not helped by exaggerated claims about sexual assault.

Rape is a horrific crime and even one is too many, but victims of crimes are much better served by the truth and accurate reporting about the situation than by exaggerated and false claims of a “rape epidemic.” FBI crime statistics reveal that far from an “epidemic” of an increasing frequency in rape in America, we’ve fortunately experienced exactly the opposite – the frequency of rape has been declining for more than two decades, and fell to a 41-year low in 2013.


Mark J. Perry, “Before declaring that there’s a ‘rape epidemic’ in the US, has anybody bothered to check the actual data? Apparently not”, Carpe Diem, May 17, 2014.

August 25, 2014

Buying and selling college class notes is made easier by technology

by Grace

Selling class notes can be a way for college students to make extra money, but is it a good idea?

Every student could use a little extra spending money, and selling your class notes and study materials is one way to make some on the side for something you’re doing for free already. Flashnotes lets you sign up by school, post your notes for specific classes, and sell them to other students.

Sharing class notes and tests has been going on for years, but somehow using technology to escalate this practice to an efficient business transaction seems to go over the edge.

… Flashnotes says their average students pick up a couple hundred dollars on the site, and that their in-house team reviews and monitors materials uploaded to make sure the notes being sold are actually of decent quality before they’re posted. Plus, you can preview any notes before you buy them, to make sure you’re not shelling out for what amounts to be useless. They also offer a money-back guarantee if you’re displeased with your purchase. For their part, Flashnotes doesn’t add listing fees, but they take 30% of every sale, so price accordingly….

Some pushback in the comments to the original article included a discussion about the legality of profiting from someone else’s intellectual property, which apparently is not a problem since the students’ notes are considered “their own personal interpretations of what has been taught within the class”.

At least one commenter gave several reasons why buying and selling class notes is generally a bad idea.

Speaking as a college professor of 4 decades’ experience, please, please don’t do this. Buying classnotes is a lucrative business for the resellers, but leaving aside the issue of intellectual property, buying classnotes is no substitute for being present and taking notes yourself. Buying notes is to entirely misunderstand why we take notes: it’s not in order to capture a set of objects, but in order to process heard & seen data intellectually into our own words, which form unique mnemonics and significantly enhance recollection, synthesis, and critical thinking. With respect, Alan: please reconsider this recommendation—it is highly problematic, possibly unethical, and certainly unstrategic and counterproductive for learning. I respect Lifehacker enormously, but this is a very bad idea.


Alan Henry, “Flashnotes Offers College Students a Place to Buy and Sell Class Notes”, Lifehacker, August 8, 2014.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 220 other followers

%d bloggers like this: