Confused About Your Student Loans? You’re Not Alone

NPR – Acacia Squires

“Americans have about $1.3 trillion in student loan debt. And there’s yet another survey out that shows students in this country are confused about their loans, in the dark when it comes to knowing what they’ve borrowed, uncertain about how to pay them back. I’ve written before about how I was one of those people. My federal student loans were a constant source of stress, and after doing the math I figured I was paying more than 30 percent of my income every month in loan payments. And because of high interest rates, I was deeper in debt than when I graduated. And then came my epiphany, courtesy of President Obama and his 2014 State of the Union address: “We’re offering millions the opportunity to cap their monthly student loan payments to 10 percent of their income,” the President said.”(more)

What Colleges Can Gain by Adding Makerspaces to Their Libraries

KQED News Mind/Shift – Katrina Schwartz

“Libraries are one of the fastest-evolving learning spaces. As many resources move online, and teachers require students to collaborate more and demonstrate their learning, librarians are trying to keep up. Some are even spearheading the changes. Public libraries have led the effort to provide access to 21st century technologies and learning resources, but now university and K-12 libraries are beginning to catch up. Makerspaces are one way a few groundbreaking libraries are trying to provide equal access to exciting technologies and skills.”(more)

Why Some Colleges Are Ditching the Science Lecture For Hands-On Learning

KQED News Mind/Shift – Anya Kamenetz

“In the basement of the Duane Physics and Astrophysics building at the University of Colorado Boulder, a science demonstration is going on — but it looks more like a vaudeville act. One by one, students balance precariously on a rotating platform. Then they are handed what looks like a spinning bicycle wheel, holding it by two handles that stick out from either side of what would be the hub of the wheel. When you flip the wheel over, like a pizza, your body starts rotating in the opposite direction. The principle at work is called angular momentum, explains Katie Dudley: “You can move or stop yourself by changing what you do to the wheel.” Dudley is a blonde 20-year-old junior with glasses, an aerospace engineering major. She’s in charge of today’s session, tutoring a roomful of students who are her own age or even a bit older. She’s a Learning Assistant — an undergraduate trained and paid to help teach fellow students. Most science and engineering classes around the country are a lot less interactive, a lot more intimidating, and daresay it, a lot less fun than this one. CU Boulder has started a movement to improve the quality of science education around the country, not only on campuses but in K-12 classrooms. And the LAs, as they’re called, are at the center of this work.”(more)

5 Things You Can do to Avoid the $1.2 Trillion Student Debt Dilemma

The Huffington Post – Jeff Ray

“This fall, an estimated 20.2 million students are attending American colleges and universities. Whether at two- or four-year institutions, the first step to fulfilling the American Dream is earning a degree that will provide a foot in the door to an amazing career, higher earnings and social capital. But year after year, that dream seems more out of reach for the 40 million students who collectively owe more than $1.2 trillion in student loan debt…We realize that borrowing a manageable amount for higher education is one of the best investments students can make in their futures, as long as they successfully complete their degrees in a timely manner. However, fewer than half of students pursuing a higher education degree in the United States will actually complete their programs on time. So, what can be done? While there are some things out of the student’s control — rising tuition, interest rates, etc. — students and their families can take steps to pursue the education they need and want without going into crippling debt, namely by taking on a business mindset. Here are some options that can put that mindset into practice and ensure a financially secure future:”(more)

Helping More Americans Complete College: New Proposals for Success

The Huffington Post – John B. King Jr. & Shaun Donovan

“Today’s good-paying jobs increasingly require a high-quality post-secondary degree or credential…Today, only 60 percent of those enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs complete their education. Even for those who do complete, at least one-third take longer than expected to graduate, forcing them to bear additional costs and leave school with higher debt burdens…We need more students completing college on a faster track, which will lower their costs of college and likely reduce their student debt. The President, through proposals to be released in his forthcoming budget, is pushing to support more students reaching this goal by proposing $2 billion in additional Pell Grants next year for students working towards their degrees…3 million students next year could benefit..”(more)

Four Classes That Show The Value Of The Liberal Arts

Forbes – Daniel R. Porterfield

“America’s strength as a democracy and its competitiveness in a global knowledge economy demand that more students receive an outstanding college education. This is a crucial national goal. Most proposals to achieve it, however, emphasize scale rather than quality. Competency-based education. Streamlining degrees to get people into the workforce more quickly. Expanding online learning. These concepts all have their place, but they have drawbacks in common, too. All risk stripping away key assets for the education of emerging adults: personal interaction with professors, multidisciplinary approaches to problem-solving, exposure to the thinking process essential to scholarship, and the freedom to discover oneself in intellectual dialogue…This school year, I was inspired by many courses…ones that set goals and delivered outcomes critical to both individual and societal flourishing…Courses like these remind us of the distinct and enduring value of a liberal arts education. To paraphrase Robert Frost, great teachers become “awakeners”—not just asking students to answer questions, but also inspiring them to inquire, constantly, throughout their lives. Today, we see this process at work in every discipline, with classes that kindle fires in students’ minds for research, creativity, innovation, and social change. America has no future if we don’t educate our students for this kind of nation-strengthening work.”(more)