The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks us by Paul Tough
If you are reading this, you are likely college-educated. You applied for, were accepted by, and attended a college for some period at some point in your life. I also assume most of you graduated from college. I cannot be sure how that process has changed your life, but I presume it is for the better. However, for thousands and thousands of students’ higher education is not a positive experience. College is a negative experience for many students. Each year over 19 million people attend a college or university in the United States. By journalist Paul Tough, this book takes a hard look at this college experience and especially its impact on low-income students.
What will the future economy look like, and what factors will dictate that future? The central question raised in Enrico Moretti’s 2013 book, The New Geography of Jobs, is the future economy. Moretti is an economist from Cal-Berkley, and he has made his living looking at non-traditional patterns of economic development to find the hidden reasons for growth and change. While this book has aged a little, the book’s premise seems to be even more critical as we emerge from the COVID-19 global pandemic.
What is the soundtrack to your life? That is a question I have been asking myself for some time. Music is at the center of my life in terms of both emotional connection and hobby-level fascination. Over the course of my life, I suspect I have listened to 3,000 or so albums, been to hundreds of concerts, and I cannot even measure the hours of listening to the radio and Spotify. All of that music listening has made me wonder which songs do I cherish the most and what do I listen to most often? What is the Soundtrack to my Life?
Welcome to 2022! I know many of you have been looking forward to turning the page on 2021 and hoping that 2022 will provide more stability, less chaos, and more productivity. And I hope the same for myself as well. That is why I am starting off the new work year with a blog post focused on how I hope to tackle productivity in the new year. After all, this will be a big year for my role as Florida Consortium Executive Director and as a higher education professional. We have some great projects underway focused on Transfer Success and Career Success and we are slowing on-boarding work in student accessibility, higher education grad student engagement, and workforce development. We have a full staff here in the office and lots of engaged partners all over the state. So, there is a lot to do.
Well, it has been a while, people! I took an unplanned, extended break from my daily blogging for no other reason than it just all got away from me. And that is okay. I am not one to dwell too much in such things. But I was riding home from the gym this morning and I remembered how cathartic these daily musings were for me and I decided to pick it back up. Let’s see how far I get. Today, I am going to discuss the idea of building communities in different places for different needs. I have to admit, for years I was not very good at this. Almost all of my friends were connected to my work in higher ed. And even today, most of my friends are connected to my work. But that is changing.
This fall marks my 20th year of teaching a college course. I began teaching in the fall of 2001 with a Introduction to College Course entitled SFA 101 and I have been teaching ever since. I have taught courses on college preparedness, policy in higher education, organization and administration in higher education, leadership studies, and a number more. As mentioned in a previous post I am adding a course on college athletics and higher education this fall.
I have been working in Student Affairs for 25 years now. That is quite a long time. And I have had a fulfilling and enjoyable career. From my early days as a Graduate Assistant at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in the mid-90s to my current role as the Executive Director of the Florida Consortium, my roles have allowed me to work and teach in several capacities and scenarios. I have very few regrets and much more appreciation for the work I have done. But I know I am somewhat of a unicorn. See, the vast majority of my career has been spent in two places, Nacogdoches, Texas, and Orlando, Florida. If you look at my CV I have drawn a paycheck from two universities; Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas and the University of Central Florida. I moved my family exactly one time, in 2011 and I have liked the stability of that career path.
I am going to say it loud and say it proud, I love college athletics! Love em’! And I don’t mean I love them in a passive or nostalgic way. I mean the majority of my favorite memories are tied to college athletics. A few examples:
I fell in love with being a college student and college life when East Carolina’s Jeff Blake broke the plain at the goal line to secure a 25-24 win over Pittsburgh in 1991.
I fell in love with my wife when she came over to my dorm room for the explicit reason of watching the sweet sixteen in 1992, we watched UMass and Kentucky. That was the game before the infamous Laettner shot for Duke in the final eight to beat said Kentucky team.
The last interaction I had with my dying father, on life support, was to help him fill out his 2005 NCAA March Madness brackets. He would die two weeks later.
The Journal of Higher Education was a journal published between 1930-2013. It featured educational research, leaders, and voices in several topics related to the administration, social construct, and higher education organization. Many of these issues have been lost in time, but I discovered them about two years ago and have been fascinated with how each issue was like a retelling of our higher education story. I was also taken at how so many of the opinions and observations offered are still being mentioned and broadcasted today. It truly is Old Whine, New Bottles. This is the first of a weekly series where I will read that month’s issue and feature three of the articles I found contemporary interest in. A word of caution, some of the examples and language can be dated and complicated. So please know that I will try to address these complexities as they arise. I will offer links to the original journal listing for a deep dive because these will be short and sweet observations. So, I hope you enjoy and explore.