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Lewis Hamilton’s Future Career Plan Coming Into Focus

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I’m Goldie Blumenstyk, a senior writer at The Chronicle of Higher Education covering innovation in and around academe. For more than two years, I’ve been curating this weekly Re:Learning newsletter. Now I’m using it to share my observations on the people and ideas reshaping the higher-education landscape. Here’s what’s on my mind this week:

A glam spotlight on college-to-career.

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Need more evidence of the growing importance of career-planning services for college students? Consider the high profile given to the topic at an event in D.C. last week by Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher organization.

This was the fifth year the organization held its Beating the Odds Summit, a day of discussions and panel presentations designed to help minority, low-income, and first-generation college students hear from students just a little older than them on making the adjustment to the college environment. The students also heard from the former first lady herself, who took part in one of the panels along with Daveed Diggs of Hamilton fame and La La Anthony, a TV star. (I confess I had never heard of her, but judging by the students’ squeals of delight, they certainly had.)

As in years past, those conversations were frank — and, in some cases, sobering. Hearing students right out of high school asking about how to handle racism they might encounter on campus, or how to make sure they don’t get overwhelmed and derailed by family challenges back home, reminded me how fragile the college opportunity remains for so many students, even after they’ve been accepted.

It’s that very fragility that prompted Eric W. Waldo, executive director of Reach Higher, to add a more explicit focus on career planning this year. “Our most vulnerable students,” he told me, don’t come to college equipped with knowledge on the importance of an internship, much less the connections to land one. That’s something many of their upper-income peers “get through osmosis.”

Making sure students know how to get the jobs and careers that will help them lead fulfilling lives is necessary, Waldo said, “if we’re going to close the equity gap.”

On the heels of findings from the Education Trust that I wrote about last week, showing the mediocre progress many states have made in closing the educational-attainment gaps between white adults and black and Latino adults, the event hit home like a one-two punch.

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Reach Higher teamed up with Handshake, one of the hottest start-up companies in the college-to-career arena, to contribute to the event’s programming. For Handshake, the opportunity was right on message. The company, which began in 2014 with four campus career centers as clients and expects to have 750 by this fall, highlights its role in democratizing hiring for college students as one of its major selling points. And as part of its one-day sponsorship, it provided an afternoon of career-planning advice to the group of about 25 students attending live in Twitter’s D.C. headquarters, plus whoever watched the stream live or on archive.

I’m quite certain more students watched Obama’s panel than the livestream of afternoon programming kicked off by Handshake’s earnest 28-year-old co-founder and chief executive, Garrett Lord. But the company plans to work through Reach Higher’s extensive network of schools and nonprofit partners to share some of its career-guidance resources with students. Its sample résumé, showing how they might describe the skills they learned in typical high-school jobs like working at a McDonald’s or as a store clerk, seemed especially useful. If nothing else, it might help them with that first internship even without those family connections.

Your turn: What should colleges measure?

The conversation with Waldo also touched on the rising argument that some people shouldn’t bother going to college — an idea he called “dangerous and pernicious” because, as he put it, too often the people saying that mean, “Do students of color really need to go to college?”

No doubt, the silence from the Trump White House on the importance of college is a factor. Waldo says Reach Higher “is stepping into the absence” to make the case, as a champion not only for students but also for the value of higher education itself.

Proving the value of college was also a theme Scott Cowen, the former president of Tulane University, highlighted last week in a talk with a small group of D.C. journalists and policy wonks, about his new book, Winnebagos on Wednesdays: How Visionary Leadership Can Transform Higher Education.

Cowen is probably best known for the academic overhaul he engineered as Tulane rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina. Today he worries that colleges are letting their naysayers define them. Higher ed needs to “reclaim the high ground,” he said. And the best way for them to show their real value is to “have metrics for it, measure it, and talk about it all the time.”

Ah, but what really counts as an “impact of value” (his words)? When I asked him, Cowen’s answer was familiar — and a little squishy. He said that will vary by institution, depending on its mission. He also referred me to the early pages of his book, where he highlights examples that deal with student engagement, graduates’ success, and institutions that have broadened access.

OK, those are all worthwhile. But still it left me wondering.

So now I’ll ask you, and let’s get beyond the familiar. In 2018, as higher education prepares students for a world where knowledge is exploding, technology has the capacity to bring civilizations closer together, and racism, religious strife, and nativism can just as easily break them apart, what should colleges really measure and talk about in terms of their impact on students and the world?

Send me your thoughts, and I’ll share the best ideas in a future newsletter: goldie@chronicle.com.

I'd also like to hear from you generally, so send me an email if you have a tip to share or a question you'd like me to answer.


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Source : https://www.chronicle.com/article/Rich-Kids-Land-Internships/243712

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