“I don’t know about you, but in my recent experiences, college tours, admissions open houses, and accepted student days are starting to make me feel more like a car salesperson than a college administrator. “Excuse me, ma’am, does this education come equipped with all of the latest features or would you describe your campus as offering more of the base model?” Because I have some experience negotiating great deals in car lots throughout the Northeast, I feel better prepared for the shrewd skill of negotiations required when discussing financial aid packages with families. It appears that students today not only get to “build their luxury vehicle,” colleges get to create an options package for the newest generation to come to campus, Generation Z (Gen Z), also known as IGen, a term coined by Dr. Jean Twenge, notable author, researcher, and psychologist.
According to Twenge, IGen or Gen Z were “born after 1995, socialize in completely new ways, reject once sacred social taboos, and want different things from their lives and careers.” What kind of different things you ask? Jeff Selingo, in his recent article titled “The New Generation of Students: How Colleges Can Recruit, Teach and Serve Gen Z,” says “this generation of students is interested in practical subjects with clear paths to careers.” Born during the Great Recession, these students have witnessed and experienced parents losing jobs and siblings being saddled with large amounts of student loan debt and lackluster careers to show for the high debt and expensive degree. In sum, they are give me what I need (tell me why I need it), at the lowest price, in the shortest time for the largest payoff customers. Thankfully, readers, we are not selling cars, but are instead offering an education and experience that will lead to lifelong benefits for Gen Z-ers, but you’d better talk fast because if the luxury vehicle isn’t going for the price of a hand-me-down mini-van, there’s a fancy dealer up the street that they simply must check out before they head out of town. Because today’s students are purchasing a college experience in an analytical way, let’s talk options, which in the words of Selingo, translates to “customization.”
This generation has a need to know. They need to know the particulars, the whys, and the relevancy for not just the degree but for the course they have been advised to take, the first year experience they are required to “experience,” the program that they have been invited to attend, and the litany of other choices we place before them as traditional incoming college students. Once you’ve finished explaining the value, to make it make sense, it must be customized: the course, experience, program, and most importantly, the degree if you plan to retain your Gen Z student.
While annoying, I can’t say that this is a huge surprise. How else do you hold the attention of a person who was born in the smartphone era? Their lives and their choices are customized in ways that previous generations would have never imagined. It started with “Build-a-Bear” and has now progressed to how they select an Avatar. They create and customize it, selecting traits, attire, and identities to their liking. Customization on steroids continues, as E-Gaming comes to a college near you. Student gamers buy Gaming PCs with Monitor Bundles and customized optimization packages that include such things as “Case Fans, Motherboards, Graphics Cards, Operating Systems” that they purchase, build themselves, and personalize. Days of Xbox Live and the PlayStation 4 with groups gathering over Madden or Grand Theft Auto in the student lounge are quickly fading and a new era is upon us.
So what does customization look like in the classroom? I mean, some of us are still debating whether to offer a course online, forget about a degree. Before you panic, there’s good news. Gen Z students are not just interested in a full tech experience, but instead, recognize the need for the social interaction, even if they don’t enjoy it (remember, they are practical). Twenge and Selingo both agree that what is required are “more flexible learning opportunities including face-to-face, virtual and most of all, experiential.” It will be important to connect the student’s need for a customized curriculum and varying modalities of instructional delivery to the Gen Z wish to connect course content to career. There exists a need to be explicit, descriptive, and intentional about communicating Student Learning Outcomes in a manner that addresses both the learning and skill development. School and departmental activities such as curricular and content mapping might need to replace the day one icebreaker/team builder and be brought to class as “show and tell” or professors may need to add skill outcomes to the syllabus at a minimum.
From the co-curricular vantage, how well equipped are we to customize a living learning experience beyond themed housing and course clusters? Student development theory asserts and affirms the value of learning that happens outside of the classroom, so what new high-impact practices can be designed for this latest generation? To achieve this, we will need to bring stakeholders from Academic Affairs, Facilities, Student Affairs, Student Success, and the Finance and Advancement units together to help us build and fund targeted initiatives. Whatever is built must provide opportunities for collaboration and creativity. Consider the model of business incubators and tailor it to an academic experience that can be better defined as innovation incubators. This can be where students and faculty come together to engage in experiential education activities outside of the classroom. The benefits of business incubators include startups with opportunities for mentorship, expertise, and networking. These are all things students can benefit from as well, including the mentorship of a peer or professional advisor, the expertise of a faculty member, and the social integration that can be described as networking as we seek to build stronger student connections to campus and to the college community.
While we are busy creating Google office prototypes for students, might I also recommend that we think about ways that we can create space for university employees to come together and innovate. We will have Gen Z with us for just another 10-15 years and then we will see a new breed of students join our hallowed halls. We simply can’t afford with Gen Z to spend all of the time it took us to research millennials, skill up with professional development, invest in expensive capital projects and create all of the “fun” programming they sought, only to implement it and see them leave three years after we finally figured it all out. Carpe Diem people, while there’s still time.”
14-year-old in serious condition after vaping alcohol
October 23, 2018
PATCH GROVE, WI — A 14-year-old is in serious condition after vaping alcohol.
The Grant County Sheriff’s Office and West Grant EMS responded to River Ridge High School Tuesday morning. The investigation showed the male possibly inhaled alcohol through a vaping device and it caused him to suffer symptoms associated with alcohol poisoning.
The teenager was transported to Crossing Rivers Medical Center and then airlifted to University Hospital in Madison. He’s in serious condition.
The Grant County Sheriff’s Office is still investigating.
“Tide laundry detergent developed a handy way to wash your clothes. Instead of measuring detergent, you simply toss in a prepackaged detergent pod.
For some reason, some person decided to video themselves eating one of these soap pods and put it on social media, daring others to “accept the challenge.” What happened next was predictable. Eating Tide laundry pods became “a thing,” causing doctors and poison control officials to warn of the dangers.
Now the Consumer Wellness Center has put some research behind those warnings. Commissioned by Science.News, the Center conducted a laboratory analysis of a Tide laundry pod and identified 700 unique and potentially dangerous chemicals.
You can find the lengthy list on the Science.News website.
Mike Adams, who is lab science director at the Consumer Wellness Center and author of the popular science book “Food Forensics,” says the public — parents especially — need to be aware of what’s in the laundry pods.
“Many of these chemicals pose very real risks to human health as well as aquatic ecosystems,” Adams said.
Tide’s warning label on the product advises consumers to “call your local Poison Control Center or doctor immediately” if the product is swallowed.
“Concentrated detergent pacs can burst if children put them in their mouths or play with them,” the warning label reads. “The liquid inside is harmful if put in mouth, swallowed or in eyes. KEEP PACS OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN.”
Absent from the label
But Adams says the label does not name specific chemicals on the packaging, leading him to believe consumers could be unaware of the potential dangers.
“Given the toxicity of this product when ingested, many consumers are now wondering whether it’s safe to wear those same chemicals on their skin,” said Adams. “An even bigger question is what happens downstream when these chemicals are rinsed out of clothing and flushed away.”
As we reported in 2013, a seven month-old child died after eating a laundry pod, the first known fatality.
Proctor and Gamble CEO David Taylor, whose company makes Tide, says he can’t understand why people are eating his product and he’s not sure what to do about it.
“Ensuring the safety of the people who use our products is fundamental to everything we do at P&G,” Taylor said in a January 22 blog post. “However, even the most stringent standards and protocols, labels, and warnings can’t prevent intentional abuse fueled by poor judgment and the desire for popularity.”
JANUARY 25, 2018 BY DR. GREG
“There is nothing more painful than losing a child to suicide, and many parents feel powerless to do anything to prevent it except hope that it doesn’t happen. A new study by the University of Cincinnati reveals that parents can play a tremendous role in helping their teens avoid self-harm.
“Parents ask us all the time, ‘What can we do?’” said King, who coordinates UC’s health promotion and education doctoral program and serves as Director of the Center for Prevention Science. “You can tell them you’re proud of them, that they did a good job, get involved with them, and help them with their homework.”
“A key is to ensure that children feel positively connected to their parents and family,” added Vidourek, who serves as Co-Director of the Center for Prevention Science.
The results of the study were startling. In particular, 12 and 13yo children whose parents rarely or never said, “I’m proud of you” were nearly five times more likely to have suicidal thoughts, nearly seven times more likely to formulate a suicide plan and about seven times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers. Similarly, 12- and 13 year olds with parents who rarely or never told them they did a good job or helped them with their homework were at excessively high risk for suicide.
Likewise, 16- and 17-year-olds whose parents rarely or never told the children they are proud of them are about three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts and almost four times more likely to make a suicide plan and attempt suicide than peers whose parents sometimes or often did.
The key, as with many problems associated with kids and teens, is attachment, attachment, attachment. The stronger the emotional bond you have with your children–and more specifically, the stronger the emotional bond your kids feel like they have with you–the more likely it is that your children will choose healthy options for dealing with their problems and avoid more dangerous, and deadly, choices.
For more information on how you can strengthen your emotional bond with your children whether they are toddlers or teens, check out Parenting with Grace: The Catholic Parents’ Guide to Raising (almost) Perfect Kids. Or, contact the Pastoral Solutions Institute to learn more about how our Catholic tele-counseling practice can help you transform your marriage, family, and personal life.”
“Each year as we suit up for college commencement, donning our regalia of fanciful robes, velvet berets and silk tassels, I make a point to interject to my colleagues the John Steinbeck quote from the Sea of Cortez, “it is a rule in paleontology that ornamentation… precedes extinction.” We certainly have major issues within our higher-ed organizations and ever growing threats in the education market. And in that light, I welcome provocative assessments of the current state of higher education. But in reading Bryan Caplan’s recent essay, What’s College Good For? (The Atlantic Jan/Feb 2018) previewing his pending book, “The Case Against Education,” I can honestly say that Caplan’s views will only metastasize our ills and accelerate any institution’s demise.
Caplan’s main thesis is that our higher ed system teaches only a minimal level of useful job skills, and as such, the value of a college degree, for the most part, comes from signaling one’s “pre-existing” traits to the job market. He estimates the mix of value at about 20% job skills and 80% traits. The pre-existing traits Caplan says one signals by attaining a college degree include: the ability to learn quickly and deeply, the commitment to working on something until it is finished, and the ability to adapt to new systems of management and work with others on teams. Caplan concludes that since higher education isn’t really responsible for the development of what would be viewed by most as highly desirable traits, and in the absence of any significant job skills training, that college “is a big waste of time and money.”
Completely missing from Caplan’s seemingly new revelation about poor job-skill training in college is the fact that the world renowned 4 year higher educational system that we have built in the U.S., from its dawn, has never endeavored to promote “job skill training.” Caplan’s estimate of 20 % job skills is about right (even for degrees as practical as engineering I would target about 30%), but the minimal influence that he claims education plays on the balance of the other critical traits is woefully inaccurate. Even with the 100 year plus tradition of teaching what Caplan describes as irrelevant subjects, there is little doubt about the role that U.S. higher-ed has played in inspiring our workforce to advance America’s political, cultural, technological and economic dominance over the past century. Higher-ed has thrived in discovery, fostered the synthesis of new ideas, and advanced both technological, medical, and social innovation at almost every level. And in the process, demanded of its students through its inherent pedagogical structure the repeated and rapid mastery of new subjects. And, yes, even mastery of subjects that Caplan finds “useless” and “irrelevant” like rhetoric, economics, history, and literature.
In the long term, employers care far less about the specific factual knowledge that a 22-year-old graduate brings to their company’s collective knowledge-base. But they do care about whether they have the humility and confidence to quickly learn something new and adapt to the incredible array of forces that are changing the landscape of their business at increasingly faster rates. And for outstanding employees, there is the expectation that they should be able to repeat this process of learning something new at a high level again, and again, throughout their careers. To me, this seems very much like the well-tested expectations of a college educational experience. It might be called the “knowledge” economy, but the reality is, it is the “ability to attain knowledge” economy.
During the course of a 4-year degree, a college student will engage-in and repeat the process of going from little-to-no knowledge in some subject and advance to some measureable level of mastery about 30 to 40 times. And by design, with each new course, the student has had to learn from someone new, in the midst of different groups of people, while needing to access different types of resources, under different sets of rules, and with increasingly difficult expectations of performance. The higher-ed calendar also provides ample time for meaningful internships and extra-curricular activities, like sports, student government, volunteerism, and study abroad, that bring real-world balance to an education.
Now, how much time we take to complete this transformation from high school graduate to adaptable learner, how much it costs, who we are serving, what teaching methods to employ, or how technology could improve this process are front-and-center of strategic planning at most universities. There is nothing sacred about the current 4-year college degree or structure. A four-year degree, as it stands today, with 130 credit hours and 40 different courses of high level learning involves about 4,000 to 5,000 hours of study. What various students do with that “practice” time is what brings distinction. But even with 5,000 hours of study, a college grad has merely walked along the shore of a great ocean of knowledge that humans have discovered in any subject. Some, like Caplan, would say “that they haven’t learned anything,” but others, like those that I work with, would say “that they know that they have a lot more to learn.” Students will benefit just as much from understanding the limits of their knowledge, as they will in drawing from the core.
As one might expect, everyone involved in Caplan’s higher-ed storyline is just in it for themselves. The big ruse called college he describes couldn’t be sustained without it. He is cynical about everyone around him. He is cynical about students (“the vast majority are philistines”), he is cynical about his fellow teachers (“the vast majority are uninspiring”), and he is cynical about the administration, “the deciders – the school officials who control what students study.” If I sensed the same level of self-interest that Caplan feels hanging over his academic environment, I would be equally disillusioned with higher-ed. But I don’t, so I am not.
Despite what some think, even in degree tracks viewed as practical as engineering, we do not engage in “job skill training.” In the St. Thomas School of Engineering, we promote and celebrate a 30% job skills / 70% traits balance that Caplan finds wasteful. I tell our students that there are no “Mechanical Engineer” jobs. However, there are incredible careers that can begin for those who have had the experience of learning the array of new subjects, from Philosophy to Thermodynamics, in our Mechanical Engineering curriculum. The products, the markets, the science, the customers, the designs, the finance, the regulations, the equipment, the timing, the documentation, the history, the communications, the manufacturability, the software, the laws, the cultures are so different for each company in each product sector, that we could not possibly “train” you for any specific job, because training you for one, would ill-prepare you for the vast majority of other possibilities. Let alone those that will emerge 4 years from now.
As engineering educators, the worse thing we could do for our students is to have them be surprised by what little they know as they walk through the door to their first job. Or, even worse, be over confident in what they think they know when they walk through the door of their first customer. And, in that light, the best thing we can do is to prepare them to walk into any new environment, fully knowing that you must first deeply listen, learn, question, understand, and as quickly as possible move to mastery. And then, plan on repeating that process again, and again, throughout their career. Much like they successfully demonstrated during their college education, regardless of the subject.
There are plenty of angles to constructively criticize and dramatically improve the current state of higher education, but the views in Caplan’s “What’s College Good For?” essay are no place to start.”