Dear readers of BroadwayWorld, my name is Christopher Lindquist and I am so excited to be a student blogger for BroadwayWorld! I am a current theatre major at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. I can’t wait to shed some light on my life at a community college, life as a theatre major, and the transfer process.
This blogging position has given me something to do between shows. COD, or College of DuPage, runs five productions a year: two plays in the fall, two plays in the spring, and a musical over the summer. Every student, regardless of major, can audition for one of the productions, or both. The catch is that they are only going to be in one of the two if cast. The great thing is that the production counts as a class, so you get credit for it. If you need to reach a certain amount of credits to transfer, or you are going to have too many credits, the good news is that you can take this “class” for anywhere from 1-3 credits. You do the same amount of work, but you can choose how many credit hours are rewarded.
The College of DuPage, even though it is a community college, there is still a great big deal of different majors, classes, and activities. The main campus is in Glen Ellyn, but if I needed to take a business class before I transfer, but I can’t find the time to drive out to Glen Ellyn, I can easily register for a class at one of four centers around the county: Naperville, Addison, Westmont, or Carol Stream, along with the option for online classes. Classes for theatre majors don’t stop at the general Acting classes. At COD, there is everything from general theatre appreciation, to unique classes such as stage combat, stage management, play directing, or stage makeup. Set building, costumes, lighting, and sound are all directed by professionals within the theatre world, with the help of students looking forward to going into those fields.
This fall, I was in Curse of the Starving Class, where I played Sergeant Malcolm. This production was the first production that I have ever been in outside of high school. Curse of the Starving Class, by Sam Shepard, is an absurdist play that tells the story of a dysfunctional family with a consistently drunk father, the overly ambitious mother, the rebellious daughter, and the “perfect” son, where things start going crazy when the mother brings a sneaky lawyer into picture, the father wants to sell the house to a wacko club owner, and the police sergeant has to come in to inform the mother that the daughter was arrested for a variety of things. Sadly, we closed on October 21st, running for three weekends spanning from Thursday-Sunday. I had a great time with this wonderful cast and I hope the best for all of them, maybe I will see them next semester when I audition for the next two productions!
For as long as he can remember, Percy Walker has been working to better himself.
Raised by his grandmother in New Jersey, he was the first male in his family to graduate from high school. With no money for college, he decided that joining the Marines was his path to success.
“My mom couldn’t take care of herself, let alone my sister and I, but my grandmother kept me grounded,” he said. “When it came to high school, no one spoke about college so, to me, the military was my No. 1 option to better my circumstances. I enlisted at 17, spent a year in the delayed entry program, graduated and left for boot camp.”
That was 18 years ago, and much has changed in Walker’s life. Now a sergeant major, he has served across the country and around the world, including two deployments in Iraq and another in Afghanistan. He is married and has four children, ages 15, 5, 3 and 1.
He earned an online bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2014 from Purdue University Global, but he had always longed to learn more about computers and information systems. His search for an online master’s program led him to Colorado State University online.
“Wanted to be part of the CSU family”
“With me moving every three years, that limited my choices, so I narrowed it to three schools,” he said. “CSU’s program just stood out to me. The No. 1 thing was the name – I wanted to be part of the CSU family.”
His program in computer information systems required being part of several group projects. He was stationed in San Diego, so online meetings with fellow students were via Skype. That’s how he got to know Hillary Noble, who was pursuing the same degree while working in web development and design for CSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
“I first met Percy because we were assigned to a group project by our professor,” Noble said. “We met over Skype and were able to complete many group projects remotely as we had many classes together. We both have young children and similar work schedules, so Skype and email made our countless group projects manageable.”
Finding help – and friends – from 1,100 miles away
Between parenting, work and online classes, the challenges were substantial. Walker’s wife, Jamie, is a flight attendant, so he was often on his own with the children, and his chosen degree field was more of a passion than something he had spent years studying.
“There were so many times I wished I had stayed in my lane academically, so it was a real struggle,” he said. “I had always loved computers since I was very young, but getting that degree was very, very challenging.”
Walker, 37, said CSU’s Adult Learner and Veteran Services office provided invaluable help in navigating the process – “Without them I would have been lost,” he said – and professors were very accommodating of his schedule. At one point, during the middle of a semester, the Marines chose him for an anti-terrorism course, and his already full plate overflowed.
Faculty, staff go the extra mile
He credited professor Charles Butler, who has been on CSU’s business faculty for 35 years, with helping him stay the course.
“I remember Percy because you could tell he was a bright guy who was having some struggles,” Butler said. “It’s a really difficult balance being a student while in the military, but I’ve always felt that we owe a certain degree of responsibility to help our military personnel, and I was happy to help Percy.”
A big moment for Walker came in February 2017 when he had a free day between military assignments to visit campus and attend classes. It was the first time he had sat in a physical classroom since high school.
And when he graduated the following May, he brought his wife and family to Fort Collins. Noble, the friend he had never met but knew so well, threw him a graduation party.
“The way Hillary, her family and friends adopted me was truly amazing,” Walker said. “They were as proud of me as my own family. I’ll never forget that.
“When I look back, CSU was supportive of me in every way. I can’t see me having gone anyplace else. I definitely chose right.”
It should be one of the bright spots in the British economy, one that shines through the Brexit gloom, but the higher education sector has become a pin on which balances the most enormous mountain of debt.
And with speculation that institutions may be in financial trouble circulating around the sector, ministers are nervous.
Recent figures show that UK universities have borrowed £12bn since the financial crash – from their banks, from private investors, mostly in the US, and from the international bond markets.
Oxford borrowed £750m over 100 years at an interest rate of 2.5% and is seen as a safe bet. Cardiff was not far behind, borrowing £300m at 3% over 40 years. However, the Welsh institution ran a surplus of just £145,000 in the year to July 2017. At this rate, when the loan ends and the capital must be repaid, “it would take over 2,000 years to pay off the debt”, the IFR reported.
This colossal and rising total of university borrowing is dwarfed by projections for a rise in student debt from the current £100bn to £1tn over the next 25 years and the hundreds of millions borrowed to build student accommodation.
Not only is there a mountain of debt reliant on the success of the sector: universities generate £95bn for the economy and £12.5bn of exports. Towns and cities in Britain with a university or two derive huge benefits from the economic activity they generate. Council leaders fall over themselves to please their local vice-chancellors. With so much at stake, anyone would think that ministers would follow suit.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. While there are MPs and officials in Whitehall who understand how crucial higher education has become to the finances and fabric that underpin the British economy, the cabinet continues to procrastinate about two crucial issues – reforms of the student fees system and the treatment of foreign students by the Home Office.
The prime minister has set in train a review of post-18 technical education, which is a much neglected subject, but does little to address the difficulties faced by more academically focused universities.
Many of them, especially the second tier and below, are left in a tricky position. Most have already cut costs by driving their academic and ancillary staff onto precarious short-term and zero-hours contracts.
Then there is the number of 18-year-olds, which is falling. So is the number of foreign students.
Oxford and Cambridge will attract students from abroad who are prepared to jump through the Home Office’s hoops. But the less-well-known colleges, and even the Russell Group universities, are already losing out.
Loans deals, many of which were signed in the euphoria following 2012 – when colleges, suddenly awash with student loan cash, made a dash for growth – add another layer of cost. Unfortunately, debts that were once deemed affordable might not be in the next few years as annual budgets come under strain.
Last week, Sir Michael Barber, the head of the university regulator, the Office for Students (OFS), insisted the government would let higher education institutions in financial trouble go to the wall.
Barber, a former Institute of Education professor, former Labour government adviser, ex-head of McKinsey’s global education practice and chair of the OFS, knows his stuff, but those who lend serious amounts of money to the UK education sector seem to think otherwise.
Moody’s, the credit ratings agency, has built into its analysis the assumption that university loans are gilt-edged – that is to say that lending to a university is as good as lending to the government. This contradiction can be explained by the existence of a divide between the top tier of universities, which are probably safe with or without a government guarantee, and the rest, which could be let go – but with consequences not just for the debt holders. Local communities would suffer and, more broadly, the nation would see a star industry founder.
Andrew McGettigan, author of The Great University Gamble, warned in 2012 that George Osborne and David Willetts, the chancellor and higher education minister respectively, risked killing a golden goose by loading it up with debt.
Today it is even clearer that ministers, should they sit on their hands, will push the system further into the red and weaker institutions closer to collapse.
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In 2014, film-maker Alex Shebanow read about Corinthian Colleges, one of America’s largest for-profit college companies, while working on a documentary about student loan debt.
Relying heavily on federal student loans, from which it took $1.4bn in yearly revenue, Corinthian was on the brink of collapse after the department of education halted the company’s flow of federal funding due to evidence of rampant fraud in its reporting of grades and job placements.
Corinthian, a behemoth of the for-profit college industry that marketed its vocational and post-secondary programs to single mothers at or below the poverty line, was already under investigation by various federal agencies, the education department, and 20 different state attorneys general when it said it could not operate for more than a few days without an influx of cash. Internal documents revealed the for-profit specifically targeted “isolated” and “impatient” individuals with “low self-esteem”.
It was this run-in with the sordid underbelly of the predatory for-profit college industry – and a multi-state investigation into a company, QuinStreet, that set up an ostensibly government-run website funneling veterans to for-profits – that inspired Shebanow to expand the scope of his project. The result is his new documentary Fail State, an expansive and infuriating account of the rise of profit-driven colleges, their devastating effects on low-income students, and the ways Republicans and Democrats have aided and abetted their treachery.
“I don’t know how these people can sleep at night,” says Shebanow, whose work so impressed Dan Rather that the famed journalist signed on as an executive producer. “A lot of people don’t realize what’s percolating beneath the surface. It was crazy that no one had done a documentary on this until now and that it took a bunch of twentysomething film-makers to do it. I was always so worried someone was going to come out with a documentary of their own because the story is so big and important. I thought there was no way we were the only ones doing it. But somehow, that was the case.”
As Fail State explains in broad, digestible fashion, all of this began in 1972, when for-profits, often called proprietary, vocational, or career-driven colleges, became eligible for federal student aid under an amendment to Lyndon B Johnson’s Higher Education Act of 1965. The rerouting of financial aid money from institutions to students themselves was meant to allow private universities to compete with public ones, whose low costs made enrollment swell. But this opened the door for profit-driven colleges, who took advantage of the desire to make higher education more inclusive by encouraging students to take out huge sums of financial aid money.
These companies promised students eventual employment and, since the money was coming from taxpayers, had no vested interest in whether or not the students could pay back their loans. As an expert says in Fail State, for-profits had what amounted to risk-free access to the US treasury. Predictably, default rates soared in the 1980s, with almost half of all students at these colleges defaulting on their loans. By 1992, however, lawmakers began to wise up to the predatory recruitment practices and the virtually useless degrees these colleges were offering students.
At the time, a series of congressional hearings, and the attention of Congresswoman Maxine Waters (who appears in the documentary), helped set in motion a series of provisions that would allow for oversight of the for-profit industry: the 85-15 rule, requiring that at least 15% of the companies’ revenue came from sources other than government student aid; the 50/50 rule, ensuring no more than half of college courses were offered online or by mail; and the incentive compensation rule, banning college recruiters from receiving bonuses based on how many students they lured to the program. In the following decade, though, congressional interest in policing the for-profit sector waned and many of these regulations were dismantled or otherwise softened.
Governor-elect Tony Evers and U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin made a final campaign stop at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Nov. 5, one day before they each won their respective races in the 2018 elections.
Evers and Baldwin, who were joined by state assembly member Don Vruwink and state treasurer Sarah Godlewski, spoke about issues such as healthcare, education and getting young adults to vote.
The quartet of Democrats looked upon a room packed with UW-Whitewater students, faculty members and Whitewater residents in the University Center Room 69. The group of politicians urged everyone to go vote Nov. 6.
“If we get people starting to vote early, they will continue to vote for the rest of their lives,” Evers said.
The first speaker was Godlewski, a first-time candidate. She spoke about reducing student debts and the ability to refinance student loans. Her words garnered a positive reaction from the students and applause throughout the entire room. She finished her speech by endorsing Mandela Barnes, the Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor and Evers’ running mate.
Next to speak was Baldwin, who was the incumbent Senatorial candidate. Along similar lines, she spoke about the ability to refinance student loans but moved on to cover healthcare and tax breaks. Baldwin said she was excited to be in a place with so many young people.
“You bet I’m excited to be at UW-Whitewater, and I want the entire student body to vote,” Baldwin said. “I want young people to recognize their power in a democracy.”Grace Holler
Baldwin spoke to the crowd about how she had a childhood disease and had trouble finding insurance with a pre-existing health condition. She criticized outgoing Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s “intolerance” to those with a preexisting health condition, and his proposed healthcare plan.
The last candidate to speak was Evers, the former state schools superintendent and now the state’s governor-electHe endorsed both Vruwink and Barnes.
“UW-Whitewater is on the ballot,” Evers said, citing his wish to increase funding for the UW-System.
Evers spoke about the Wisconsin governor’s ability to replace six members of the UW-System’s Board of Regents and how he feels it’s important for the upcoming governor to value education.
He told the crowd he plans to raise state infrastructure spending and fill in “Scott-holes” in our roads. Evers’ message was largely critical of Walker, his political adversary. Evers said Walker was “unfit for office and puts his own political ambitions ahead of Wisconsinites.”
Evers spoke last about how he plans to increase the funding for the state’s Department of Natural Resource, which has seen increased responsibilities despite lower funds in the last years.
After a long round of applause, Evers put down the mic and walked off stage, but was greeted with a chorus of “Happy Birthday” by the UW-Whitewater College Democrats.
All four politicians the students had just seen went on to win their respective races Nov. 6.
As most now know, skyrocketing student debt can be particularly devastating for young adults.
But it’s not just millennials who are delaying life’s major milestones because of their loan burdens, according to a new report by the Association of Young Americans, or AYA, and AARP, an association representing the interests of Americans over age 50.
Debt from student loans is also standing in the way for Generation X and baby boomers, the report said.
“The trillion dollar student loan crisis is having a tangible impact on all Americans across all generations,” said AYA founder Ben Brown.
“Student loan debt has been a barrier in making key life decisions and planning for the future,” Brown said. AYA and AARP polled nearly 5,000 adults, including millennials, Gen Xers and boomers, between July and August.
Here’s a look at some of the long-term consequences:
Saving for retirement
Four in 10 respondents said student loan debt stopped them from saving for retirement, including 41 percent of millennials, 38 percent of Gen Xers and 31 percent of boomers.
Buying a home
About 1 in 3, or 32 percent, said college debt prevented or delayed them from buying a home, including 36 percent of millennials, 26 percent of Gen Xers and 32 percent of boomers.
Helping a family member
One-quarter of those polled said student loans stood in their way when it came to financially helping a family member, including 23 percent of millennials, 29 percent of Gen Xers and 26 percent of boomers.
Having health care
Nearly 1 in 5, or 16 percent, said their debt burden hindered them from getting the health care they need, including 17 percent of millennials, 16 percent of Gen Xers and 9 percent of boomers.
Overall student debt reached a record $1.5 trillion this year, according to the Federal Reserve. Seven in 10 seniors graduate with debt, owing about $29,650 per borrower, according to the most recent data from the Institute for College Access & Success.
To ease some of the burden, Brown recommends sending in a little more than the minimum payment each month toward principal of the loan — by even $10 or $20 — to pay off your loan faster and spend less in interest.
“The sooner you can repay your student loans, the less you have to pay,” he said.
Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health, in Goderich, and Nipissing University are once again collaborating to provide placement for community projects as part of the Nipissing University Distance Learning Program.
This semester, a registered nurse and vice-president of the Gateway board of directors, Gwen Devereaux is mentoring two nursing students.
“We are very happy to assist our nursing students this year,” Devereaux said. “Gateway’s mission is to improve the health and quality of life of rural residents through research, education and communication. We are always interested in researching health issues relevant to our local community members. There is no better way than to assist our local health-care professionals to advance their education. Once again we have two very bright students and we are delighted to help.”
This is the third cohort of nursing students that Gateway has hosted. Devereaux stated she really enjoys assisting these ambitious and dedicated students who are working full time in our communities and at the same time, carrying out a study and placement program, that over five years will lead to a bachelor of science in nursing (BScN).
The two nursing students are:
Holly Al graduated from HealthKick’s local practical nursing program and began her nursing career in 2010 as a registered practical nurse (RPN) in Wingham & District Hospital. “The fact that I would be able to pursue a college education in a field I loved and was passionate about was very important,” Al said. “Being able to obtain my education locally was extremely instrumental in where I am today. To further develop my nursing career while working with the Listowel Wingham Hospitals Alliance, I returned to school to obtain my nursing degree (BScN Distance Learning Program) at Nipissing University. The opportunity to work with Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health to complete part of my program locally, means everything.”
Stefani Hickmott is currently working on her third year of the bachelor of nursing degree from Nipissing University.
“I completed a bachelor of health science (2005) from Western University and the practical nursing program (2013) from Georgian College, through HealthKick in Huron County. I am currently working as a RPN at AMGH (Alexandra Marine and General Hospital) while completing my community nursing semester. I am excited to be working for four months with Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health.”
Online learning continues to expand in higher ed with the addition of several online master’s degrees and a new for-profit college that offers a hybrid of vocational training and liberal arts curriculum online.
Inside Higher Ed reported the nonprofit learning provider edX is offering nine master’s degrees through five U.S. universities — the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Texas at Austin, Indiana University, Arizona State University and the University of California, San Diego. The programs include cybersecurity, data science, analytics, computer science and marketing, and they cost from around $10,000 to $22,000. Most offer stackable certificates, helping students who change their educational trajectory.
Former Harvard University Dean of Social Science Stephen Kosslyn, meanwhile, will open Foundry College in January. The for-profit, two-year program targets adult learners who want to upskill, and it includes training in soft skills such as critical thinking and problem solving. Students will pay about $1,000 per course, though the college is waiving tuition for its first cohort.
Online colleges courses and degree programs have been criticized for high attrition rates and lack of attention to students and their performance, especially those who need the most support. Yet there continues to be a steady stream of new of initiatives online, from for-profit tech programs to law degrees.
One reason for the continued expansion is that a proliferation of third-party providers and open-source code makes them relatively easy for institutions to start, and they can be used to address demand for knowledge in a rapidly changing job market, Nina Huntemann, director of academics and research at edX, told EdScoop. For students, they tend to cost less and offer more flexible schedules than in-class programs. They are especially well-suited to graduate degree programs.
Despite the collapse of the for-profit sector, which included several large online offerings, enrollment in online programs has been on the rise for more than a decade. From fall 2015 to fall 2016, the number of distance education students taking at least one course increased by 5.6% to 6.3 million, according to a 2018 report from the Babson Survey Research Group. About half of that group is taking only online classes.
Private for-profit University of Phoenix-Arizona, private nonprofit Western Governors University and private for-profit (now a nonprofit) Grand Canyon University had the highest enrollment of students taking at least one online class in 2016, according to the survey. The University of Maryland University College, in the No. 7 spot overall, ranked first among public colleges.
For-profits have dominated online learning, but traditional universities are catching up. In 2017, Purdue University acquired for-profit Kaplan University, which will support the nonprofit’s online Purdue Global program. And in August, the University of Pennsylvania announced plans to put its popular master’s in computer and information technology online, the first all-online master’s degree in the Ivy League. EdX’s expansion shows how other major universities are responding to the trend, providing the information and instruction but working with third-party technology providers to tailor the curriculum to online learning.
Improve International has announced that it will launch a distance learning version of its Small Animal Medicine Postgraduate Certificate (PgC) programme, in January 2019.
The company says that the 20 module medicine programme, covering all of the major body systems of cats and dog, combines the latest thinking in small animal medicine with its world-class learning resources to ensure that delegates’ learning experience online gives the same high-quality learning as the attendance programme.
Improve says it aims to offer a route for veterinary surgeons who don’t have the time to participate in an attendance programme or who work in countries where this type of training is not available, the opportunity to study for a recognised postgraduate qualification.
Delegates signing up for the programme will have a module tutor – an RCVS or ECVIM/ACVIM Small Animal Internal Medicine Diploma holder – and a dedicated programme tutor who works with individual delegates to ensure they are supported throughout the programme.
Improve says the course includes interactive and engaging modules, together with real-life case studies, presentations, written notes, interactive quizzes and exercises.
Dr Alison Babington MRCVS, Business Coordinator at Improve said: “The pressures on veterinary professionals today have never been more intense and many of us struggle to find the work-life balance which is so important for our well-being. Unfortunately, these pressures often preclude many vets from undertaking the type of postgraduate training which could give them additional job satisfaction and enhance both their career prospects and the profitability of their practice.
“It has been our ambition for some time to offer some of our flagship programmes online and, in creating the Distance Learning Small Animal Medicine programme, we drew on the experience of the latest online platforms.
“This new Distance Learning Programme offers a high quality interactive, engaging Small Animal Medicine learning experience which will be fun to study and a far cry from the days of simply reading text online. It will be accessible to vets working anywhere in the world and we’re very proud to be able to offer a high level programme via this learning route