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Posts Tagged ‘college’


Photo: Aaron Wade
The Wade brothers (from left: Nigel, Zach, Aaron and Nick) are all going to attend Yale.

I have often felt awe for parents who do a good job of managing twins, especially when the twins are infants. How much greater is my awe of the Wade brothers’ parents, who must have done a lot of things right to manage quadruplets who all became academic achievers.

As Sarah Larimer wrote at the Washington Post in April, “The Wade quadruplets, of Liberty Township, Ohio, learned that all four had been accepted at Harvard and Yale universities — offers that added to a pretty impressive pile of potential college destinations. …

“Besides Harvard and Yale, the Wade brothers have loads of options for the next four years. Nick got into Duke, Georgetown and Stanford. Aaron is in at Stanford, too. Nigel made the cut with Johns Hopkins and Vanderbilt, and Zach with Cornell. …

“ ‘The outcome has shocked us,’ Aaron said. ‘We didn’t go into this thinking, “Oh, we’re going to apply to all these schools and get into all of them.” It wasn’t so much about the prestige or so much about the name as it was — it was important that we each find a school where we think that we’ll thrive and where we think that we’ll contribute.’ …

“Darrin Wade, who works for General Electric, and his wife, a school principal, have saved some money for their sons’ education. But the father said it’s not enough to cover four sets of full tuition for four years at full price at elite private universities. The mother and father are mindful of their own need for retirement funds, too.

“ ‘We have to make sure that we’re helping them down the road by not being a financial burden on them when we get older,’ Wade said.” More from the original story here.

I needed to know what the upshot was and managed to find a May follow-up story. NBC reported that Yale offered the four brothers a great financial aid package, so that’s where they are going.

Hat tip: Cousin Claire on Facebook.

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An obvious barrier for single mothers who want a good education is lack of day care. Some high schools help low-income moms with that, but not many colleges. Kirk Carapezza writes at WGBH radio about one college that is leading the way.

“Twenty-three years ago, when Endicott College President Richard Wylie set out to subsidize room, board and childcare for single teenage mothers at this small, four-year private college in Beverly, Massachusetts, he met some resistance. …

“What Endicott decided to do was admit ten low-income single mothers each year, providing them with housing, meals, and childcare. Today, Endicott’s Keys to Degrees program costs the college about half a million dollars a year. It’s an expensive program for a school with a relatively small $65 million endowment, but Wylie says the school has a moral and professional obligation to help single parent students.

“ ‘We’re not here just to educate the brightest and the most privileged,’ Wylie said. ‘If I can send my football team out of the country to play, why can’t we do more?’

“College is usually an opportunity for students to get ahead and improve their lives. But that promise can lead to disappointment for low-income parents if they can’t find affordable, high-quality childcare. According to the Institute for the Women’s Policy Research, only 17 percent of college students with children graduate within six years. …

“A new poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health finds more than 70 percent of parents say the cost of childcare is a serious problem. And experts say that cost can prevent students with children from graduating.

” ‘Childcare and taking care of your kids can be a major barrier in terms of completion,’ said Gina Adams, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute. Adams says more schools focusing on serving student parents could positively affect the economy, since most jobs created after the recession require more than a high school degree.

“ ‘Education absolutely is a route out of poverty for low-income parents and for their kids,’ Adams said. ‘But if they have kids and we don’t provide them with the opportunities to make sure that their children are well cared for, then they are unlikely to enroll or be able to succeed.’ ”

More at WGBH radio, here.

Photo: Kirk Carapezza/WGBH
Sarah Schuyler, a junior at Endicott, and her son Asher play in their dorm room after class.

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I thought today would be a good day to note that, with the right supports in place, veterans who have suffered post-traumatic stress while serving the country can move forward with their lives.

The willingness of some of these service men and women to expose their story in the media strikes me as an extra level of bravery.

Kathy McCabe writes at the Boston Globe about Army veteran Michael Saunders.

“Saunders, who served from 2002 to 2006, deployed twice to Iraq … He started therapy at the VA outpatient clinic in Lynn, where a counselor suggested he focus on a new mission: going to college.

“ ‘She said I would make more money with a college degree,’ said Saunders, who worked for a lumberyard after his discharge from the Army.

“He enrolled in VITAL — an acronym for Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership — a national program that helps veterans transition from soldier to student. VITAL brings VA services, including mental health counseling, to college campuses. …

“According to Pam Flaherty, dean of students, Middlesex Community College had nearly 600 student veterans in 2014-15. In the last year, 70 who have PTSD have taken part in VITAL and received mental health care on campus. …

“The Bedford VA also offers the VITAL program at Bunker Hill Community College in Charlestown, Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner, Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill, North Shore Community College in Danvers and Lynn, Endicott College in Beverly, and Salem State University.

“Saunders, who graduated from Everett High School in 1999, is in his second year studying liberal arts at Middlesex Community College in Bedford. He has discovered a talent for writing, and hopes to transfer to Emerson College next year.

“ ‘It was a rough start, but I’m doing fine now,’ said Saunders, who also has a job at the college’s Veterans Resource Center. ‘Had the VA not had the service in place here, I wouldn’t have come.’ …

“ ‘I can sit in class now, for an hour and 20 minutes,’ Saunders said. ‘I couldn’t sit still for 10 minutes before.’ He has a lingering fear of crowds, so he adjusted his seat in the classroom.

“ ‘ I have to be able to see the door, and I don’t like anybody behind me,’ Saunders said. ‘If I can’t do that, I can’t focus.’

“For one class, Saunders wrote a story called ‘The Dark Is Afraid of Me,’ a fictional account of a military mission in Iraq.

“ ‘It was really easy for me to tell the story,’ Saunders said. ‘When the professor read the paper, she was like, “You need to go see a publisher, now.”

” ‘Maybe I will.’ ”

More such stories at the Globe, here.

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I do like stories about people who love their work so much that they never want to stop.

Perhaps it helps to have a talent like muralist Eric Bransby, who got to study with one of my favorite artists, Thomas Hart Benton. (Suzanne says I have a personal aesthetic, which is a polite way of saying I’m crazy about anything wavy, like Benton’s energetic American landscapes.)

Chloe Veltman writes at National Public Radio, “Eric Bransby is one of the last living links to the great age of American mural painting. He studied with one of this country’s most famous muralists — Thomas Hart Benton — and went on to create his own murals in prominent buildings across the west. The artist is now 98 and still painting.

“At his Colorado Springs studio, Bransby attacks a drawing with tight, sharp strokes, a pastel pencil grasped between gnarled fingers. His studio is unheated, but he doesn’t seem to notice the cold. He’s completely engrossed in the image taking shape on his easel. It’s a study for a new mural that he hopes to install at nearby Colorado College. He says he draws between two and eight hours every day.

” ‘Drawing has been a continuous thing for me, like exercises for a musician,’ he says. ‘It’s refreshing. I draw better. I paint better.’ …

“His parents didn’t encourage his artistic pursuits. It was during the Depression, and when he demanded that he get sent to art school, he remembers his parents said: ‘Well, he’ll do one year and he’ll come back so discouraged that we’ll make something else out of him.’

” ‘But that didn’t happen,’ Bransby says. ‘I found heaven.’ ” Read more here.

Photo: Nathaniel Minor/Colorado Public Radio
Eric Bransby, pictured above in his home in Colorado Springs, is still creating art at 98. “I try to make each mural a project that will somehow expand my abilities a little bit more,” he says.

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As a child, I used to go to my father’s college reunions. All very rah-rah. Now I go to my husband’s at Haverford, which are more self-deprecating and lend themselves to funny stories about football players having to go through the cafeteria line and beg bookworms to come scrimmage.

I spent the weekend pondering whether the more-aged classmates got that way because they quit work or quit work because their health failed. And — amid conversations with people I never see, stimulating panel talks, green-green lawns and trees with nameplates, funny speeches and boring speeches, catching up with a friend who married one of the engineering majors, taking a campus tour, and attending a Quaker memorial service for the deceased classmates — wondering if I would go to my own when it comes around.

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There is a constant drumbeat in the news these days about the cost of college. Of course, it’s not really news. Families have struggled to pay for generations, and there have always been students who worked their way through (Suzanne’s dad, for one). And there have always been a few institutions seeking ways to help them.

Lisa Rathke writes in the Boston Globe about today’s “work colleges,” which believe that working your way through has many advantages, especially if all students are in the same boat.

She writes, “After college, many students spend years working off tens of thousands of dollars in school debt. But at seven ‘Work Colleges’ around the country, students are required to work on campus as part of their studies — doing everything from landscaping and growing and cooking food to public relations and feeding farm animals — to pay off at least some of their tuition before they graduate.

“The arrangement not only makes college more affordable for students who otherwise might not be able to go to school, it also gives them real-life experience while teaching them responsibility and how to work together, officials said. …

“With rising college costs and a national student loan debt reaching more than $1 trillion, ‘earning while learning’ is becoming more appealing for some students. But the work-college program differs from the federal work-study program, which is an optional voluntary program that offers funds for part-time jobs for needy students.

“At the seven Work Colleges — Sterling College, Alice Lloyd College in Pippa Passes, Ky., Berea College in Berea, Ky., Blackburn College in Carlinville, Ill., College of the Ozarks in Lookout, Mo., Ecclesia College in Springdale, Ariz., and Warren Wilson College in Asheville, N.C. — work is required and relied upon for the daily operation of the institution, no matter what the student’s background.” Read more.

Photo: Sterling College via Associated Press
At the seven Work Colleges, it’s not optional: Students must hold jobs during their undergraduate careers and pay off some of their tuition before they graduate.

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Don’t you love “secret benefactor” stories? You remember, of course, that in Great Expectations Pip was convinced Miss Havisham was his secret benefactor. (Spoiler alert! she wasn’t.)

A similar theme is found in Frances Hodgson Burnett‘s A Little Princess, about a much-abused but uncomplaining orphan who one day trudges the weary steps to her bare-bones garret and discovers a magical world of comfort has been created for her.

In 1912, the American writer Jean Webster wrote an epistolary novel in the same vein, Daddy LongLegs. It’s about a poor girl in an orphanage whose little essays capture the attention of a man on the orphanage board. He doesn’t like girls and wants nothing to do with her other than to send her to college anonymously and see if she can be a success. He keeps tabs by reading letters he has required her to write every month.

Well, you can imagine …

The book was hugely popular in its day and has been made into all manner of anime and films, including one with Shirley Temple and one with Fred Astaire ( both of which have snippets on YouTube and seem to be in pure gag-me-with-a-spoon territory).

Last night we saw a musical version of Daddy LongLegs at the Merrimack Rep and liked it very much. Some might find it too epistolary for the stage or too sweet for 2012, but it wasn’t Shirley Temple and the audience was crazy for it.

John Caird, famous in part for the Royal Shakespeare Theater’s Nicholas Nickleby, wrote the book and directed. Paul Gordon wrote the music and lyrics. Megan McGinnis was the orphan, and Rob Hancock was the benefactor she assumed to be 83 and bald. (Spoiler alert! he isn’t.)

What was surprising was the strong feminist and socialist vibe, which the program notes explain were characteristic of the author. “Webster was actively involved in remedying the plight of the impoverished, not only from a financial standpoint, but from a cultural standpoint as well.” She believed that no matter what the poor had missed out on in their early years (we discussed that here), many could succeed if just given a chance.

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