Monday, February 25, 2013

Infographic: 23% of Americans Is Illiterate

Adult literacy is becoming a growing problem in the United States. 1 in 5 Americans cannot function beyond a fourth grade level. Furthermore, the consequences of adult illiteracy cost Americans over $200 billion per year. Check out the infographic for more details below:

Monday, February 18, 2013

Trailer: EDUCAUTION (Student Loan Debt Crisis)

I received this trailer in my email account from Robert Applebaum, executive director and co-founder of The producers of this documentary are University of Southern California graduate students pursuing an independent thesis on the economic issues surrounding the American higher education system. You can find more information about this project on the Facebook page.

Synopsis: EDUCAUTION is a journey documentary film created by graduate students who are concerned about the future of the American Higher Education System. By focusing on the economic issues surrounding the higher education system, the film examines the increasing concerns of many Americans regarding the continuing decrease in the quality, value, and financial return of higher education in the market place. Through interviewing fellow Americans with real stories from diverse backgrounds, the filmmakers' goal has been to examine the current system, offer hope, and propose solutions towards preserving the American Higher Education System - a system that has been the main force behind much of the Modern World's achievements and advances. 

Here is another video documentary, Scholarship, about the growing student debt crisis by three journalism students--Alex Lancial, Tara Molina, and Jake Stein--at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism.

Synopsis: The 26-minute production examines the student debt crisis in the United States and delves into issues local to Arizona. Illustrated through the voices of student debtors as well as university and government policymakers, "Scholarslip" explores five critical issues: increasing costs of tuition; deteriorating quality of higher education; diminishing value of a college degree in the job market; student dependence on state and federal financial assistance; and the effects on personal lives and aspirations. Lancial, Molina and Stein entered and documented the lives of three university students, each experiencing different personal and financial struggles yet sharing a common desire to pursue a college degree. Also featured are testimonies from John Kavanaugh, a representative in the Arizona legislature; Kent Hopkins, the Vice Provost of Enrollment at Arizona State University; and Natalia Abrams, a co-founder of Student Debt Crisis and Occupy Colleges. "Scholarslip" presents a generation under siege, challenging a seemingly out-of-control system that is sending millions into interminable debt. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

SSIR: Nonprofits Don't Care about Black People

The provocative-but-true blog post, "Nonprofits Don't Care about Black People," by nonprofit expert, Rosetta Thurman, became the most-read article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review in 2007. Nearly five years later, I believe philanthropy and nonprofits still need improvement in diversifying its leadership with more people of color. I share an excerpt from the blog post below:

These statistics among the sector’s top leadership highlight the enormous disparity between what our clients and communities look like in comparison to our leaders, given that less than 70 percent of the U.S. population is White. This disparity is happening all over the country but it’s especially disconcerting here in Washington, DC - colloquially referred to as “Chocolate City” for its high number of Black residents (over 60%) - because executive directors and CEOs of nonprofit organizations that serve predominantly Black or Latino communities are predominantly White. It’s gotten so bad that Venture Philanthropy Partners has invested $500,000 in the African American Nonprofit Network to recruit more of the kinds of leaders that look like the people their organizations are serving. Now let me be clear:  I do not necessarily take issue with White leaders serving communities of color. We need all kinds of people to do the important work of social change as it moves their hearts to do so. However, it makes me uneasy when I think about the reasons behind the racial disparity and lack of diversity within the nonprofit sector. Why is it that the people who have relevant experiences of struggle and challenge within communities of color are not usually the ones who emerge as nonprofit leaders to address these issues? Aren’t these the ideal leaders that would know how best to solve these social problems?  And if so, why doesn’t philanthropy care enough about real social change to begin recruiting more people of color for leadership positions?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

How to Enroll in a Higher Education Master's Program

Colleges and universities have dual roles in society as a social and cultural institution and as a complex, bureaucratic organization. As more students enroll in college, there is a greater need for professionals who can manage and develop programs that focus on the out-of-classroom (co-curricular) experience. A graduate degree in higher education, student affairs, college student personnel, or career/educational counseling is considered the entry-level degree in this growing field.

The curriculum in higher education master's programs varies immensely. The curriculum can focus on counseling, student affairs, institutional research, or general administration and policy. It is important to select a program that offers courses and internships in your area(s) of interest. If you want to become an academic/career advisor, apply to counseling or student affairs programs. (Some colleges and universities prefer candidates to hold professional counseling licensure for advising positions). If you want to work in academic program management, choose a graduate program that emphasizes administration and policy.

If you have visited the U.S. News Graduate School rankings, the education section includes a ranking of higher education administration programs. Keep in mind these rankings focus on the strength of doctoral programs, which tend to emphasize peer-reviewed research and policy. If this is not your career focus, then browse the NASPA Graduate School directory to find graduate programs in your geographic region. Remember: If you are not seeking a career in higher education research and policy, then the prestige of the program does not matter. What is more important is gaining relevant, professional experience and connections. This approach will also help you avoid excessive student loan debt.

A master's degree in higher-education generally requires one to three years to complete based on a student's enrollment status. Financing your education can include graduate assistantships, internships, grants and scholarships, loans, and tuition reimbursement (if you are employed at a college or university). Most master's programs require three recommendation letters and GRE scores in the admissions process. High GPA and/or GRE scores can increase your chances of obtaining merit-based scholarship money. Before you apply, obtain campus employment in academic and student service (relevant policy and research experience also counts) so that you have a competitive application. Admissions committees also look for student leadership experience. Finally, write a clear, concise, and compelling statement of purpose that highlights your academic and professional experiences and explains why you want to pursue a career in higher education. I hope these tips will aid you in the graduate school application process.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Review: The Idealist Guide to Nonprofit Careers for First-Time Job Seekers (2008)

The Idealist Guide to Nonprofit Careers for First-Time Job Seekers (2008), by Meg Busse with Steven Joiner, is a career guidebook for emerging professionals seeking their first position in the nonprofit sector. Whether you are a college student, recent college graduate, or someone entering the workforce for the first time, this comprehensive resource provides invaluable advice, strategies, and nonprofit-specific resources to guide your job search. Topics include an overview of the nonprofit sector, myths and facts about nonprofit organizations, job search strategies, self and career assessment, networking and interviewing strategies, resume and cover letter writing tips, nonprofit hiring practices, and salary and negotiation tips. It also includes an appendix of common vocabulary terms in the nonprofit sector.

I wished this book was around when I was an undergraduate student! It contacts interesting facts, exercises, and websites for readers to explore on their own time. Unlike the for-profit and public sectors, the nonprofit sector has a decentralized job posting system. This means that you have to be proactive in researching agencies and organizations that fit your interests. Most nonprofit workers found work through word-of-mouth and employee referrals. Therefore, this guidebook is great for those who need guidance and structure in preparing for a competitive job market. Volunteering, internships, and networking (I can't stress this enough) are very important in launching your nonprofit career.

If you enjoy the series, check out the rest of their career books here. Other topics focus on career switch, service corps, and personal profit. The books are also available to download as free PDFs.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

NPR: More College Students Choose to Major in Black Studies

This post will focus on Black History Month. Below, I include links that I found across the Internet that may interest students and practitioners. This list will be continuously updated throughout the month of February:
  • Although this NPR interview was conducted in 2010, the topic demonstrates that African American Studies has come a long way. Its recognition as a legitimate academic field of study is well-deserved.
  • In 2012, the Chronicle of Higher Education also wrote about the current trajectory of African American Studies doctoral programs in the United States.
  • contributed an article about the trouble with black studies as a discipline in higher education. 
  • This e-book introduces students to African American Studies.
  • Since February is Black History Month, I also recommend this blog that focuses exclusively on African American history and culture. It includes references, links, and other information about the African American experience.
  • Martha St. Jean interviewed Patricia Reid-Merritt, professor of social work and African studies,  whose book, Righteous Self-Determination: The Black Social Work Movement in America (2010), chronicles the history of Black social workers who organized a national movement to confront racism at the height of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements in the United States.
  • U.S. Post Service celebrates Rosa Parks' 100th birthday with Forever stamp. 
  • I also highly recommend people visit the Smithsonian exhibit, Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963 (December 14, 2012 - September 15, 2013) at the National Museum of American History. 
  • University of Michigan's LSA Today revisits the Black Student Union protest in 1968.
  • A statue of civil rights icon, Rosa Parks, was unveiled at the U.S. Capitol—the first full-size statue of an African-American woman in the halls of Congress. Stay tuned for updates. 
  • Diverse Issues in Higher Education found that Black History Month is not universally supported.