The College Crisis
Guest Article Written By: Adam Stacy, CollegiateZone
It’s fall of 2012. Imagine you’re a typical college freshman. You’re reveling in a new sensation of freedom.
You went through the gifts received last spring and packed your boxes with the tools and toys of your choice. You’ve unloaded it all into your new home away from home, a dorm room. It’s quite a bit smaller than it looked before you and your roommate filled it high with stuff; some of it you’ll need and rely on, some you won’t touch until next spring when you throw it away before packing up to move out for the summer. Either way, you picked what to bring.
Classes have started this week and you’re enjoying the fact that you were able to set your own schedule. If there was space, you had your pick – morning classes or late classes, everything on Tuesday and Thursday or spread out over the week, Friday off if you like. The minimum is 12 and the max is 18. Did you pick a heavy load of easy courses, a light load of hard courses? Are you attacking the general requirements now or putting them off until later? What about that required lab-science? Whatever you picked, you picked it. It was all your call.
Every day you’re hailed by new clubs, teams, organizations, and groups. They all want your participation. Pick as many as you like or ignore them all. Make new friends or seek out those you already know. Head to the gym or the library or the quad, your pick. Stay up late studying. Stay up late reading a book. Stay up late chatting up a new romantic interest. Stay up late playing video games and watching movies. Go to bed early. Use your meal-plan points at the cafeteria or use them at the pizza joint. Eat a little. Eat a lot. It’s all your call.
You’ve never had this much freedom when it comes to deciding the little details of your own life.
Have you sorted out that one, big, significant college detail? Have you declared a major?
Stay up too late tonight and you can go to bed early tomorrow. Change your mind on membership in a student org, you can quit. If you make friends with a jerk, just stop talking to him. Study too little for an exam, make it up on the next one.
But what if you pick a major and invest several semesters of coursework then change your mind? That’s not so easily undone. What if you decide on a career path that doesn’t require a college degree at all? You’ll never get back the years of time and thousands of dollars you’ve spent.
You can change your mind now or next semester, maybe even as late as next year, and the consequences won’t be too dire. But the longer you wait before making a move, the worse it’s going to get. How did you decide? How do you know? If you’re lucky, you’ve already declared a major and are confident you’re on the right path.
If you’re not so lucky and are undecided or unsure of your major, your conundrum highlights the biggest failing of the American education system’s pursuit of “college for all.” Nobody asked you, “And Then What?”
Your high school guidance counselors were only a moderate help. You were one of hundreds and they were only a few. Maybe your parents were able to guide you. But they’re them and you’re you. You’re unique and you’re different.
So here you are and you’re not sure why.
Your high school focused so hard on getting you accepted into college that the really big question of why was never addressed. What do you want to do and does it require a college degree? College is a great thing and can prepare you for all sorts of careers but not every career requires the additional education. Not every employee benefits in a tangible way from spending the time and money to earn a college degree. The economy is very complex. You are very complex. I’m not trying to indict, accuse, and blame educators or their system but this issue goes largely ignored.
Fortunately, the winds of change are already blowing and there are movements from Washington and many state capitols towards advancing away from the “college for all” mentality. See here and here. But that will take time. Years. The students are here now with others in line behind them. This crisis needs a solution today.
There’s actually more help out there than you likely know about. Believe it or not, Harvard scholars and Sec. Arne Duncan aren’t the first people to acknowledge this problem. Some of us have been working towards a solution for years. Using technology, a whole host of organizations and groups have dedicated themselves to educating about education and great strides are being made.
Since 2005, CollegiateZone™ has been developing a system of tools to empower students to explore themselves and their options in new and innovative ways. All of that effort has culminated into EDUsystems™, the most in-depth and comprehensive guidance and preparation system available. New for 2012, students can now go to one spot for a seamless transition from self-discovery onto a nurtured and defined academic pathway coupled with an entire set of web-based tools for preparation and exploration, enabling them to achieve their goals whether those plans are a two-year or four-year college plan, technical school, or direct into the workforce.
As part of the Texas Education Agency’s Online College and Career Readiness Technical Assistance Program, all students within San Antonio Independent School District down to Grade Three are enrolling into EDUsystems this fall.
Each student will be given access to MindSight™. From the analysis of the student’s personality, not just what he/she likes but why – a full behavioral interest and motivational profile provided by The Birkman Method – the student will be given recommendation links to specific careers that would be a good fit.** Each link will provide a full breakdown of information on that career – daily tasks, required knowledge, salary scales, etc. With that information, the student picks a potential career and GradMapTM takes over.
GradMap synchronizes with the school’s database system and course catalog to automatically generate a personalized and customized graduation course plan for each student. Taking into account all of the general graduation requirements that must be met, GradMap then maximizes the courses most specifically relevant to a student’s stated career goals. If the student wants to become a doctor, additional natural science courses will be selected as available. If the student wants to pursue a technical career, a district’s respective Career and Technical Education courses will selected.
Once a course plan is approved and in place, San Antonio students will have access to a system of age-specific preparation and application tools. Elementary and middle-school students can takepractice reading, writing, and math tests appropriate in difficulty for their age. High school students will have access to SAT and ACT test modules and the most up-to-date database of scholarship and funding options. High school students will also get an Auto-Fill program to more quickly complete their college, financial aid, and scholarship applications. And all students will be able to use EDUsystems career and college research tools.
The student needs more than just instruction on how to get into college. The student needs a real pathway to success whether that includes college or not. As a society, we cannot afford to perceive moving away from “college for all” as limiting opportunities for students. Rather, with the proper tools in place, tools like EDUsystems, abandoning “college for all” can be about truly maximizing success through the realization of all opportunities.
We know it works because we see it happening every day with our partnering schools and districts.
** MindSight has been so popular in San Antonio that SAISD has purchased additional access for all SAISD Career and Technical Education instructors and coordinators.
Adam Stacy – Director of Sales
Adam Stacy joined CollegiateZone in 2012 with a decade of experience in sales and operational management with various small to medium-sized privately held, entrepreneurial companies. In his most recent position, Adam served on the Operations Management team for BMF Solutions, LLP, a Houston-based fire-protection firm
In his current position with CollegiateZone, Adam works closely with CollegiateZone investors, management and current customers to develop and grow CollegiateZone’s presence in both retail and institutional markets. He also manages CollegiateZone’s social-media networks, using them to expand awareness of CollegiateZone and share new products and company news.
Adam has a BA in Economics and a BA in French from Pepperdine University, Malibu, California. Adam is a fitness enthusiast and enjoys many hobbies including motorcycling and his kit-car. He currently lives in Houston with his wife.