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Last week was an important time for the Class of 2017 and the colleges that they will attend. May 1st is the typical deadline for college decisions.  Prospective students wait by the mailbox to see if they have been admitted to the college of their choice.  For generations there have been competing theories about the interpretation of the size of the envelope (Does a thin envelope mean you were admitted or denied?).  Admissions Directors also wait by the mail to see if the expected students’ deposits arrive.

A recent study conducted by the Princeton Review provides interesting perspectives on the college application process from students and their parents.  Entitled, “College Hopes and Worries,” the 2013 survey includes the responses of 14,125 people (9,555 prospective students and 4,170 parents) from every state and several other countries.

First, this is a very stressful experience for both students (70%) and parents (67%).  In fact, only 2% of the respondents reported low or very low stress during the college application process.  What is interesting is that the reported stress level has increased by 13% since the survey was started.

The cause of this increased stress may relate directly to the next two issues: the economy and the cost of education.  Seventy-nine percent of the students and their parents say that the economy has impacted the decision about applying to or attending college.  This is an increase from last year (+4%) and the impact is perceived at a higher level by the prospective students (81%) than their parents (74%).

A vast majority believe that the cost of a college education will exceed $75,000 (84% of parents; 83% of students).  An additional 10% of parents believe the cost will be greater than $50,000 (19% of students) and only 1% of the parents (4% of the students) believe the cost will be less than $25,000.

It is no surprise that 89% of the respondents indicate that they will need financial aid (loans, scholarships and grants) to pay for their college education.  In fact, only 2% of the parents indicate no need for financial aid.  Clearly, both parents and students are worried about affordability and may not have a complete understanding of financial aid opportunities and actual costs.

What is gratifying from this study is the perceived benefit of a college education.  While half of the respondents correlate a college degree with a potentially better job and/or higher income, 25% see the value in exposure to new ideas and the remaining see education in and of itself as the primary benefit.

While prospective students and their parents seem to share similar degrees in regard to their hopes and worries, there is one area of marked difference.  Parents would prefer that their children attend a college closer to home.  Over half of the parents would prefer their child to be within 250 miles from home.  Over 60% of the students would prefer to be further away and a third would even want to be 500+ miles away from home.

The college decision is a challenging one for everyone involved.  Despite the levels of anxiety and concern, the hope remains that each member of the Class of 2017 will find the right fit for his or her educational and personal values and needs.

(As always, your comments and questions are welcome.)

First, I have a confession to make. My blog for last week (April 22nd) was written two weeks ago, just before my wife and I left for a trip to Italy. We were out of the country from April 13th through April 21st conducting business for the College and enjoying a few days of vacation.  We never expected there to be such dramatic events deserving more immediate comment and reflection while we were travelling.

Needless to say, this was a challenging time to be away from the United States, from the Boston area and from the campus.  The news of the Boston Marathon bombings was covered extensively by the international press in both the print media and on television.  We made several phone calls each day to family, college personnel and friends, and viewed internet sites for additional information and details.

We experienced the same emotional roller coaster as so many of you did … shock and deep sadness, fear and concern, and finally appreciation and support that the issue was resolved.  But there is a different perspective when you are over 4,000 miles away from a situation, and I would like to share a few thoughts.  Hopefully, in the coming days as our region and our country return to some semblance of normalcy, I too will return to blogging about events in higher education.

First, I was impressed with the levels of leadership exercised by so many during this crisis.  So much of the media attention has been on the outpouring of support and community spirit.  And that is laudable.  But I was impressed to see so many people in state government, law enforcement, and on a more local level, the AMC campus, exercise clear and decisive leadership during challenging and difficult times.  We too often criticize failures in leadership.  This was a case study in effective leadership by many.

Second, it was heartwarming to experience the compassion and concern for Boston and America from all over the world.  Our travels in Italy put us in contact with many people from different countries, cultures and traditions.  But whenever someone came to know that we were from the Boston area, there was great empathy and support. In a world where our focus is too often on our differences, it is important that so many people from throughout the world share common values and beliefs.

Finally, I have to admit our continued concern about the overwhelming presence of media and social media.  It was apparent from the first events on April 15th through these past few days that so much of what was reported was false, inaccurate or incomplete.  Parents lost the opportunity to prepare their children to deal with these realities since it was impossible to avoid the images, sounds and commentary.  We need to find a balance between freedom of speech and access to information … and the responsibility for accuracy, fairness and civility.

(As always, your comments and questions are welcome.)

Posted by on in President's Blog

This semester I have been teaching an undergraduate course on Leadership.  My students are primarily freshmen and this is their first real study of this topic. Aside from the fact that they are not always ready to learn at 8:00 a.m., it has been a great experience.  I have learned from them, and hopefully, they have learned a few things from me.

As we move towards the end of the semester, I asked them to write about the most important things they have learned in this class. I told them to reflect on what they have read in the textbooks, the discussions in class, their observations of leadership in the world, and the in-class material.  I found their responses interesting.

A common response was their growing appreciation that there is not one right way to lead, although a follower (and a leader) may have a preferred style.  I have tried to help them to better understand the complicated and delicate balance between leaders and followers.  We have studied a number of motivational and leadership theories and approaches.  They seem to better understand that there are all types of successful (and unsuccessful) leaders.  Leadership is neither simple nor uniform.

They also have come to understand that leadership should be the result of thought and reflection and that it should be intentional in nature.  Good leaders think about their organizations, their followers, their goals and objectives, etc., and determine how best to lead. At the beginning of the semester many of these students confused leadership with personality.  They have come to appreciate that good leaders use different strategies and approaches that are consistent with their values and skills.  Leadership is and should be a conscious decision.

But I was most surprised that so many students identified “the power of 51” as an important lesson.  Whenever I teach leadership, whether at the undergraduate or graduate level, during the first class I write on the board the number “51.”  My goal is to help them understand that if effective leadership is measured by the accomplishment of goals, you have to be realistic about what is necessary to bring about action or change.  The ideal may be consensus, but this is not realistic.  Having a vast majority in support makes things easier, but it may not be achievable.

The fact is that 51% is a majority … and with a majority … even a slim majority … you can lead.  Needless to say, our discussions and observations of political leadership and elections helped to demonstrate the power of 51.  These students are becoming more realistic about leadership, the challenges of leadership and their own potential to lead.  That’s an important part of their college experience. After all, these are our future leaders!

(As always, your comments and questions are welcome.)

Cacia King
These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

Hello everybody!

My name is Cacia (said K-sha) King. I am a sophomore music therapy major, and also an honors student here at AMC. I am a work-study student in the Admission department, and I am involved in several clubs.   I am writing this blog to answer questions and to talk about Anna Maria College.

But before we get started, I would like to give you a list (in no particular order) of my favorite things about AMC:

  1. I love being a music therapy major! In my opinion (although I am biased), it is the best major in the world! It is a perfect fit for me, and we have a great and immersive program here at AMC, and I love it!

  2. I love the honors program. Seriously though, if any current or prospective students are interested, go check it out! It is great to be in a class with other students who are like me, who all just love to learn about everything. It’s also great to have class with the honors program faculty. They are amazingly open and honest with us, which is great.

  3. I love the chicken fingers down in the HUB. Yes, that’s how much I love them. They’re really good. Gotta try ‘em.

  4. I love my relationship with my advisor and my professors. They are so supportive. I know that if I have an issue, I can confide in them and I know that they will help me conquer any problem I might have.

  5. I love being involved in my clubs. I am a member of music therapy club, drama club, and treasurer of chorus club. All of my clubs host great events and enrich my experience here at AMC

  6. I love Alice, the inter-library loan wizard in the library. I don’t think I could have done as well on my research papers without her. She is incredibly helpful (as is all the library staff), and would probably swim across the ocean to get the source you want. She’s great.

  7. I love all of the activities that the clubs and AMCAB put on. They are all great and there is always something to do, you just have to look (but not very hard).

  8. I love all of the supportive services we have on campus. It is really great to have the counseling center, career services, health services, the IT department, and the student success center on campus. I don’t know a single student who hasn’t used at least one. It is awesome to be able to have all of these services right on campus. It makes it easy to succeed when you’ve got all of these helpful people who want to help you right in your backyard.

  9. I love being a tour guide and working in Admissions. It seriously is the best job on campus.

  10. But most of all, I love the students and all of the people on campus. I’ve had so many heartwarming experiences that make me truly love my experience at AMC. I am just lucky to call many of these people my friends.

So there you have it. My favorite things. But don’t worry, I will be elaborating in future blog posts on several of these things because a few sentences don’t give them the justice they deserve.

And, that’s all folks!

Cacia

One of the growing trends in higher education is the increased number of students who choose to double major.  These overachievers tend to fill (overfill) their schedules in an attempt to maximize their undergraduate experience and increase their opportunities for career choices.

A recent study published by the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University provided an enlightening perspective on these students, the value of double majoring and the attitudes towards this phenomenon by most colleges and universities.

Sociologists Richard Pitt and Steven Tepper analyzed survey results of 1,760 seventh semester students at nine institutions: Duke, Emory, Ohio State, Trinity, Vanderbilt, Texas (Austin campus), Dartmouth, Knox and Wooster.  The survey was conducted through the web and asked students to provide information about their “academic choices, motivations, and measures of creative thinking and achievement.”  Within the sample group, 19% were pursuing double majors.

The first important insight from this study is the delineation of types of double major combinations most commonly chosen by students. The first type is identified as “hyper-specialization” majors or “deepeners.”  These students pick two majors in the same or similar disciplines (e.g., two humanities, two social sciences) that complement each other and blend easily.  

The second type is called “hypo-specialization” majors or “spanners” or “Renaissance students.”  These students pick majors from very disparate disciplines (e.g., a hard science and the arts).  Their choices provide the greatest challenge (and opportunity) to “bridge the furthest intellectual distance.”

This study also concludes that these students learn and think differently. The authors conclude that as our society demands more and more graduates capable of innovative thinking and higher level problem-solving skills, the answer may be in encouraging more double majors.

These students are “better at integrating knowledge, tend to think differently, and approach learning more creatively.”  These characteristics are more evident in “spanners” because of the different orientations of their varied disciplines.

The study also poses and answers two important questions:

1)    Are these students over-extended?

2)    How should institutions better support these students?

I will share these results and my own thoughts and observations next week.

(As always, your comments and questions are welcome.)