This college is responding to an often-ignored population: Working adults - The Washington Post

This college is responding to an often-ignored population: Working adults - The Washington PostThis college is responding to an often-ignored population: Working adults - The Washington PostPosted: 23 Sep 2020 07:45 AM PDT On Wednesday, Paul Quinn will become the first historically Black college to partner with Guild Education, a Denver-based firm that works with companies such as Walmart and Lowe's to provide education benefits to employees. Paul Quinn is among dozens of colleges and universities, including Southern New Hampshire University and the University of Florida, offering credentials and degrees through Guild. Employees of the companies in the Guild network can access all of Paul Quinn's courses and four-year-degree programs. The college has short-term credential programs and accelerated degrees designed for working adults. "This is about unlocking the potential of America's workforce," Sorrell said. "It's about moving people forward using higher e…

Illinois State University return-to-classes met with excitement, hesitation - Chicago Sun-Times

Illinois State University return-to-classes met with excitement, hesitation - Chicago Sun-Times

Illinois State University return-to-classes met with excitement, hesitation - Chicago Sun-Times

Posted: 17 Aug 2020 02:18 PM PDT

Lizzie O'Dwyer hadn't seen anyone besides her boyfriend, whom she lives with, for five months.

But by noon on Monday, Illinois State University's first day of classes, O'Dwyer had already attended two in-person classes, each with about a dozen students.

"I was definitely nervous last night, when I realized I'd have to go see people," said O'Dwyer, a senior from Evergreen Park who's studying music education. "I've lived here all summer and haven't gone out at all."

Students and faculty took on the first day of class at Illinois State with a mix of hesitation and excitement. With about 80% of classes online this fall, according to university spokesman Eric Jome, far fewer students were in the quad and student center than on a typical first day. Professors led in-person classes with masks, and sometimes face shields; stickers marked seats to be left open for social distancing.

About 3,950 students are living on campus this fall as of Monday morning, Jome said. About 6,000 students usually live in dorms and on-campus apartments. And the move-in process, three days in the past, was spread out over 10 days to allow social distancing.

ISU has a total student body of about 20,000.

Illinois State freshman Bella Vermillion, 17, throws a frisbee on the campus quad on the first day of class, Aug. 17, 2020. Vermillion said she's
Illinois State freshman Bella Vermillion, 17, throws a frisbee on the campus quad. Vermillion said she's "not really worried" about attending in-person classes.
Clare Proctor/Sun-Times

Freshman Bella Vermillion, 17, arrived on campus from Abilene, Texas. She said moving in was easier than it likely would have been if masses of students showed up all at once.

Since she's studying music education, not all of Vermillion's classes will be online. But she's excited about in-person classes.

"I'm not really worried," Vermillion said. "The school is taking a lot of precautions — I feel good."

One of O'Dwyer's in-person classes met outside Monday; the other, in a spaced-out classroom. Worrying about wiping down her desk and other health precautions was "a little bit distracting," she said.

Illinois State senior Lizzie O'Dwyer sits on the university's quad on Monday. She had already attended two in-person classes on the first day.
Illinois State senior Lizzie O'Dwyer sits in the university's quad Monday. She had already attended two in-person classes on the first day.
Clare Proctor/Sun-Times

O'Dwyer, 21, trusts her classmates and said the small group of students in her major seems to be taking the pandemic seriously. Still, she added, it didn't take long for parties to start once students were welcomed back to campus.

"I don't blame students — I blame the university for not going fully remote," O'Dwyer said. "Letting people back in the dorms was a mistake."

Learning in the lab

John Sedbrook, a genetics professor, is teaching two online classes this fall. Originally, one of Sedbrook's 50-person lectures was to be in-person, in a classroom he said only "20 students would fit in." The class switched to a different room, but Sedbrook said he still wouldn't have been comfortable. The university made the "right decision" to move nearly all courses online, he said.

Sedbrook still works with about a dozen undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students in his lab, where they are developing a plant — pennycress — for biofuel. Researchers work in shifts most days to limit the number of people in the lab; they also wear masks and social distance when possible.

"This is the safest place to be," Sedbrook said of his lab. "We know sterile techniques, and the lab is built to space out. We're constantly aware of safety in the lab on a regular day here."

Doctoral student Maliheh Esfahanian, 33, works in professor John Sedbrook's lab developing pennycress for biofuel.
Doctoral student Maliheh Esfahanian, 33, works in professor John Sedbrook's lab developing pennycress for biofuel.
Clare Proctor/Sun-Times

Maliheh Esfahanian, a 33-year-old doctoral student, has worked in Sedbrook's lab for more than five years. The university deemed research essential, so lab work continued during the pandemic.

Esfahanian, who's from Iran, said she "really wanted to be in the lab," despite hesitations about many students returning to campus.

"I feel a little stressed," Esfahanian said. "Working in the summer, no one was around us. Now, there are people all around you. But everyone seems to have masks on."

Cameron Spese, a senior studying biology who's worked in the lab for a year, said "you need to be hands-on to learn." The 21-year-old from Mahomet, just outside Champaign, said the lab experience is also crucial if he decides to attend graduate school, since many applications require research experience.

Illinois State professor John Sedbrook (left) discusses lab results with doctoral student Brice Jarvis, Aug. 17, 2020. The lab has continued operating throughout the pandemic.
Illinois State professor John Sedbrook (left) discusses lab results with doctoral student Brice Jarvis. The lab has continued operating throughout the pandemic.
Clare Proctor/Sun-Times

Sedbrook is concerned about the effect the lack of in-person interaction will have on the mental health of his online students. He said he hopes to hold an outdoor, spaced-out field trip where students can remove their masks and see each other's faces.

Still, in the foreseeable future, Sedbrook anticipates virtual learning will be the new normal. He won't feel comfortable teaching large classes in-person until there's a vaccine, as well as improved testing and contact tracing, he added.

"It's going to be a slow improvement, though nobody can say for sure," Sedbrook said. "I'd be shocked if we return to in-person in the spring."

Play on: How music educators are setting the virtual stage for class, performances - Purdue News Service

Posted: 17 Aug 2020 07:37 AM PDT

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — K-12 musical instruction and performances may look different this fall, but the beat will go on thanks to creativity and music-making technologies, says a Purdue University expert.

"There are so many online tools out there that music educators can use to bring students together during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Christopher Cayari, assistant professor of music education in the Patti and Rusty Rueff School of Design, Art, and Performance at Purdue. "One option is for programs to host online concerts or performances through the recording and mixing of virtual ensembles and individual performances."

Platforms like Soundtrap by Spotify and Protools are great resources for sound editing. Other softwares like Flipgrid and Adobe Premiere do video editing, while Acapella by PicPlayPost and BandLab are compilation apps available for mobile devices to create musical productions amid the pandemic. Cayari encourages music educators to experiment with these softwares to make music with their students, and the skills they develop while distance learning can then be carried into physical classrooms after the pandemic is over.

 "Putting together a virtual ensemble can be difficult, but I have seen many tech-savvy educators or sound engineers helping music educators create virtual performances," Cayari said. "Students can also collaborate with one another to create anything from karaoke videos to vlog projects. The great thing about technology is that students can collaborate with others without geographical restraint."

For the last 10 years, Cayari has researched online music making and virtual performances, focusing most of his attention on YouTube and how the platform has changed the way people create, consume and share music. According to Cayari, online music-making projects, research, technologies and literacies occur within three dispositions:

  • Do-it-yourself: "There are many avenues for do-it-yourself projects thanks to social media or audio recording websites like SoundCloud or Bandcamp. This method is great for students because it allows them to learn for themselves about the aspects that go into music recording projects."
  • Do-it-with-others: "Online music making isn't a new concept. For many years, people have been collaborating with others to create music and connect with one another through the production of music."
  • Do-it-for-others: "These type of performances are organized projects where individuals submit their own performances and someone else pulls it all together. Everyone from the organizer to the performers to the editors have a hand in creating something for the enjoyment of others."

This week, a special issue of the Journal for Popular Music Education, co-edited by Cayari and Janice Waldron from Windsor University in Ontario, Canada, was released that focuses on learning, performing and teaching, which includes international research about how music teachers are using the internet to teach students.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today's toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 6 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at

Writer: Madison Sanneman, 

Media contact: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-412-0864,, @AmyPattersonN

Source: Christopher Cayari,, @DrCayari

Journalists visiting campus: Journalists should follow Protect Purdue protocols and the following guidelines:

  • Campus is open, but the number of people in spaces may be limited. We will be as accommodating as possible, but you may be asked to step out or report from another location.
  • To enable access, particularly to campus buildings, we recommend you contact the Purdue News Service media contact listed on the release to let them know the nature of the visit and where you will be visiting. A News Service representative can facilitate safe access and may escort you on campus.
  • Wear face masks inside any campus building. Wear face masks outdoors when social distancing of at least six feet is not possible. 

More Than 100 New Flexible Course Offerings for 2020 - UPJ Athletics

Posted: 17 Aug 2020 01:48 PM PDT

The Cathedral of Learning from an aerial perspectiveAs undergraduate students prepare for a semester guided by the new Flex@Pitt model, they will have access to more than 100 new courses and programs designed to accommodate learning regardless of location. They will also have the option to choose courses that explore the ways COVID-19 has transformed the world around them.

One of a few examples is COVID-19 and the City, a first-year course in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences' Urban Studies Program created by interim director Michael Glass. The course examines the ways the virus has impacted life in urban settings and how those issues tie into urbanization, globalization and overall public health. The three-credit course, which uses Zoom and Canvas in addition to in-person instruction, features weekly video interviews with experts providing on-the-ground insights from across the globe, in addition to Glass' own lectures.

"If you look at the 1918 influenza pandemic, SARS or the great plague of the 17th century, they all did something to cities. They all had some sort of impact people had to accommodate moving forward. I think it's fair to say COVID-19 is going to be a similar sort of situation," said Glass.

"There are some things we can anticipate and some things we can't possibly predict that are going to change in the way that we live our lives as citizen residents. So let's have a look back to try and project ourselves forward," he said.

Frayda Cohen, director of undergraduate studies in the Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies Program, has also adapted the course Gender and the Politics of Food to reflect how COVID-19 has impacted the subject.

"Ironically the pandemic has given me a really terrific opportunity to recast this class and connect it to what's happening in terms of food shortages, essential food workers and the global supply chain," she said in a video on the Dietrich School's YouTube channel.

Global influences

Those two courses are only a sampling of nearly 100 new offerings in the Dietrich School this year.

Some of the language disciplines have also introduced new options. Giuseppina Mecchia, an associate professor in the Department of French and Italian, has introduced the course Euro Chic: The Invention of Fashion.

The Department of Africana Studies has introduced the course, Music and Race: Afrofuturism, which is taught by William S. Dietrich II Endowed Chair in Jazz Studies Nichole Mitchell Gantt. The course focuses on futuristic imaginings of the African diaspora and will cover artist and scholars such as Janelle Monáe, W.E.B. Du Bois, Octavia E. Butler, Beyoncé, Alisha Wormsley and more. In the spring, the department will also introduce the course, "African Americans and the Legal System."

Students with majors focused on international studies are being accommodated by Pitt Study Abroad with several program options in Vietnam, China and South Korea. Students will take courses in their home countries through study abroad providers in each location and will connect with advisors via teleconference.

Three new graduate level certificate programs—Mediterranean Studies, Transatlantic Studies and Transnational Asia—have also been approved.

In addition to new courses, the University's largest school has introduced a revision to its credit overlap policy. With the Dietrich School Undergraduate Council's approval, as of fall 2020, up to eight credits may be overlapped between any two majors, two certificates and/or a major and certificate. Up to eight credits may be overlapped between a major and minor and/or certificate and minor and as many as four credits between two minors.

New courses and programs have been added outside of the Dietrich School as well.

Applications are now being accepted for the School of Education's new online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction, which will be offered for the first time in fall 2021. Delivered in a 100% online format, the 30-credit professional degree is ideal for K-12 teachers and offers training in new instructional methods that are responsive to the changing education landscape.

The School of Computing and Information is now offering Applied Data-Driven Methods courses as part of its Master of Library and Information Science program. The coursers are for students without computer science backgrounds who seek expertise in data-driven methods. Course offerings include an Introduction to Data-Centric Computation; Managing, Querying and Preserving Data; Applied Predictive Modeling; and the Art of Data Visualization. These courses are being piloted as electives within the School's Master of Library and Information Science program, but are open to interested graduate students from across campus.

The Pitt-Greensburg campus has approved a new Data Analytics major. The major consists of core coursework in information science, mathematics and statistics that students can complete in eight semesters. The core courses include introduction to information, systems, and society; database management; programing in Python; statistical methods; regression; principles in data analytics; and the ability of students to select electives within the discipline based on their interests. Students will also complete a practicum, internship and capstone that will provide experience with multi-disciplinary approaches in data analytics in preparation for the workforce.

From the best major to finding purpose in life — how going to college affects your happiness - CNBC

Posted: 17 Aug 2020 08:31 AM PDT

College was once seen as the "proven path to success" for young people. But with the Covid-19 pandemic moving colleges online, the student debt crisis growing and the increasingly tumultuous job market, the quintessential college experience seems even more out of reach. 

Many students are questioning whether a college education is even worth it

But beyond just success, can going to college make you happier? The answer is complicated, but here's what the research and experts say.

Education strongly correlates with future happiness

"Education is probably more strongly correlated with future happiness throughout adulthood than any other variable," according to Jeffrey Arnett, developmental psychologist and professor of psychology at Clark University. Happiness, in this case, is defined as satisfaction with the way one's life is going.

Research suggests that the more education you have, the happier you tend to be. 

In a survey that utilized data from the U.S. General Social Surveys, 94% of people with a bachelor's degree or more reported feeling happy or very happy with their lives overall, while 89% of high school grads said the same. A 2016 Pew survey found that adults with less than a high school education are more than twice as likely as those with a bachelor's degree or more education to say they are not happy with their lives.

Having a college degree is correlated with other sources of happiness: People who go to college also tend to have better health outcomes, more stable marriages, and longer lives than those who didn't graduate from high school.

Part of it is you make more money

People tend to be happier the more money they make as far as it allows them to meet basic needs, such as access to healthcare and a safe place to live. (The relationship between happiness and income has a leveling-off point at about $75,000.) 

Data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York suggests that the average person with a college degree makes $30,000 more a year, or nearly 75% more, than those with a high school diploma. The average college grad makes an estimated $78,000 a year, whereas someone with only a high school education makes $45,000. 

Most jobs in today's "knowledge economy" require a college degree to get hired. Advancements in automation leave few opportunities for people to earn a living wage without one. 

"A higher education and a college degree is still the proven path out of poverty for many students," Alex Bernadotte, CEO and founder of Beyond 12, an organization that guides underserved students toward completing their college degrees, tells CNBC Make It. "And it is certainly still the currency of validation in our country."

But more than money it's purpose

"With more education, people are more likely to be able to do the things that give their lives purpose," Kendall Cotton Bronk, developmental psychologist and associate professor of psychology at Claremont Graduate University, tells CNBC Make It. 

People with a sense of "purpose" tend to have better mental and physical health, and longer lives.

"Studies repeatedly find that individuals with a sense of purpose in life tend to report that they're happier, or they're more hopeful and more satisfied, than individuals without," Bronk says. 

The best major depends on you

One big challenge that emerging adults face in college is figuring out how they want to use their different skills and talents, Bronk says. Most college students switch majors once, if not two or three times until they find something they like. 

The best major is the one that helps you find purpose in your life. So there's no one major that makes people the happiest, because people derive purpose from different things, Bronk says.

For instance, in PayScale's 2019 College Salary Survey, 3.5 million respondents, from more than 4,000 colleges and universities across the U.S. were asked if they believed their work makes the world a better place. With those who said "yes, and provided their major, PayScale ranked the majors accordingly. 

The majors that provided people with the most meaningful careers were: alcohol and drug studies, which prepares people to work in the addiction field; radiation therapy, specialists on an oncology team that deliver radiation to cancer patients; cytotechnology, lab professionals who work with pathologists to diagnose cancer; early childhood special education and music therapy.

While these majors are vastly different, the report suggests that majors within the health field as well as community and social service tend to provide people with meaning. 

Can school debt make you unhappy?

Graduation rates show that only about 50% of students who start at a four-year school have a degree six years later. The numbers are even more stark for students from under-resourced communities or students from ethnic groups that have traditionally not attended college. 

More years spent in school leads to more tuition, and for many, more debt. Studies suggest that there is a link between mental health and student loan debt: A recent survey from financial coaching company Student Loan Planner found that nine in 10 borrowers experienced significant anxiety due to their loan burden.

The high cost of college, and the emotional burden of student loans, "leads to very legitimate questions about the return on investment of a college degree," Bernadotte says. 

And as colleges contemplate how to make changes in light of the pandemic, Bernadotte says lowering the cost would be a great place to start.

There are non-college paths to happiness too

Bronk's advice for current college students is to "step back and really think about what really does matter? What is it, in the big picture and in the grand scheme of things, that I care about?" That could mean taking a gap year or pursuing an internship or other professional pursuit that serves you in a meaningful way.

Because ultimately, education increases your happiness, not because of what you learn in the classroom, but because of all the privileges that come along with it, such as job opportunities, increased income and enhanced relationships, Alexander Gamerdinger, research analyst at the Happiness Research Institute in Denmark tells CNBC Make It

"So, is college for everyone, and do you need to go to college in order to be happy? Absolutely not," Bernadotte says.

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