INSIDE HIGHER ED April 26, 2010 Daily Update

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Interesting article: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/04/26/aacrao

Retention, From Beginning to End


In thinking about retention as discussed in the article referenced here as well as the alcohol issue going on at Penn State, I have to ask, even if it is politically incorrect: "Why do we not expect our students to be adults?" Why are we attempting to babysit them so much? Going to college is a luxury that one works to achieve. I am not saying that retention is something that we should ignore, or helping students understand the hazards of dangerous drinking is not our responsibility; support structures are essential to being a socially responsible entity. However, in the scope of resources available and given the expectations for students to navigate their independence and the workplace successfully, at some point they are going to have to learn to cope with failure, make sense out of high uncertainty, and go for challenges that take their "all" to achieve. To protect people from failure, from dealing with high uncertainty, and to not give them very challenging challenges is to keep them from developing to their fullest potential, IMHO.

So, what do you think would be a better use of extra money, if such were available: to (1) increase support structures for drinking, sex, retention, and student academic assistance [e.g., time management programs and studying skills sessions, etc.?], (2) to lower tuition costs?, (3) offer more fun recreation and leisure options?, or (4) other, or some combination of the former? 

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Personally, all options are legitimate ways to address the problem, but I personally like 3) offer more fun recreation and leisure options.

State College is by no means a hopping, urban environment, but it does offer a great deal of activities. I think the biggest challenge for students is FINDING the recreational opportunities. This university supports soooo many clubs and extra-curricular activities, but there doesn't seem to be any sort of 'hub' or one-stop-shop to get a flavor for everything. Something that combines both area events (hiking, biking, outdoor activities, bus trips) with university-sponsored activities (late night HUB, intramural sports, student shows, etc).

Someone recently started a blog "365 things to do in State College", but after day 5 he's already stopped posting :( This is a great idea, and I think something similar should be created by the university to build awareness.

I agree that leisure and recreation is probably the most pressing need. Tuition at Penn State is very high indeed so that seems like a clear issue to address. However, investing into creating and marketing (or centralizing as Bart suggests) leisure products could have a dramatic positive effect on students already here and on town-gown relations.

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