“America’s Worst Colleges”

Kind of an interesting article in The Washington Monthly, “America’s Worst Colleges” by Ben Miller. Here are a long quote from the beginning:

… [T]he truth is that students choosing among selective schools are making largely inconsequential decisions. Whether it’s a northeastern private college, a well-regarded midwestern public institution, or some other school rich with financial and reputational resources, any option will provide students with what really matters: overwhelmingly high odds of graduating from a well-recognized college. For them, even the dreaded “safety school” is likely still a better option than the best choice available to large numbers of students.

Less-fortunate students, by contrast, are often forced to choose among the many colleges that get lumped into broad lower tiers on best colleges lists, or from private for-profit colleges that are not even ranked at all. Many of these colleges are dropout factories, where students are unlikely to graduate and prices, debt levels, and student loan default rates are high. For these students, the crucial question is where not to go to college. When you’re wandering through a minefield with destructive options that lead to high loan debt and no degree, it’s worth having a map.

Yet the newsstands don’t sell guides to America’s worst colleges. Nobody writes stories about high school seniors beset with anxiety about whether to attend a community college with a rock-bottom graduation rate, a nearby private college with shaky finances, or a shady for-profit institution.

Miller goes on and explains a couple of different categories of “the worst colleges,” all of which are either for-profit or private institutions– no public universities or colleges are on the list. I think there are ways to quibble with the way that Miller categorizes things here, but it’s an interesting list. And frankly, it’s the worst colleges (along with fly-by-night bartending schools and hairstyling “academies” and the like) that are the real problem with dropout rates and students not finishing and then defaulting in huge piles of student loan debt.

“Google Apps for Education has more to offer EMU than just email”

Pretty slow news day around town, so I thought I’d draw attention to this article in The Eastern Echo, “Google Apps for Education has more to offer EMU than just email.” I made the switch to GAE back in February or March, in part because I assumed that everyone at EMU was going to be moved to GAE anyway. But for some reason, staff, administrators and faculty are still on Zimbra. My guess is that some suit said “Hey, don’t mess up my email! I like it just the way it is!” Whatever.

GAE has it’s pros and cons. It’s good for me as a teacher (and one who makes extensive use of Google Docs in my teaching) to be on the same platform/system as my students. Besides, I’ve used Google for my own purposes for years. The downside is it’s kind of buggy in some weird ways. For example, if you are an Apple computer user who likes using the built-in email software called “Mail,” you’re out of luck because GAE is oddly not compatible with it. And while it usually works to have both my EMU account and my own personal Google account open at the same time and in the same browser, it doesn’t always work and can be kind of buggy with the EMU sign-in. I guess I still prefer it to Zimbra though.

UMass vs. Emus– and what’s the deal with Slippery Rock?

This weekend in football news: the Emus are away at the University of Massachusetts, and while our friends at Eagle Totem say this is a game that matters to both teams (because whoever wins will have put together a “streak” of two wins in a row for the first time in a long time), it kind of strikes me  as a “who is going to lose less” game. But hey, go Emus all the same.  UMass is a 14 point favorite right now.

What I don’t understand though is why is Slippery Rock playing football in Ann Arbor today? There’s an article on mLive about today’s game here, and this article from a couple days ago kind of/sort of explains the connection having to do with former PA announcers at the different schools. I mean, I don’t really care that much one way or the other, but it seems kind of odd that two small Pennsylvania colleges would come all the way to Ann Arbor to play a football game.

“Why Colleges Don’t Want to Be Judged by Their Graduation Rates”

I actually follow Provost Kim Schatzel on Twitter, and she posted this article this morning I thought was worth sharing here: from CHE, “Why Colleges Don’t Want to Be Judged by Their Graduation Rates.” It’s mostly an info-graphic explaining why calculating graduation rates isn’t so easy.

I think this is important to explain– especially to people outside of higher education– because Obama wants some kind of college rating system where college graduation rates would be a key measure. In principle, that might be a good idea. But before that happens, the feds have got to change what they count as graduation.

What’s the deal with “Ypsi the Klown?”

I’ve seen a couple of articles– this one in The Echo, and this one from the Ypsilanti Courier (which is where the picture comes from)– about “Ypsi the Klown.” I saw a couple of fliers in Pray-Harrold advertising Ypsi the Klown for the Homecoming court (I assume he lost).

So, what’s the deal with this guy? And is he on campus much? I haven’t seen him yet, though I’m working a lot more from home this term, so maybe it’s just me.

“USA Today ranks gray field at Eastern Michigan’s Rynearson Stadium top 10 in the country”

From mLive “USA Today ranks gray field at Eastern Michigan’s Rynearson Stadium top 10 in the country.” Needless to say, this story made me throw up in my mouth a little. BTW, the USA Today ranked Boise State’s blue field as number one, which is to say that their main criteria appears to be most colorful field.

Oh, and one more important point: USA Today was ranking the fields in this article and not the stadium. No sane person would say the perpetually empty and amenity-free Rynearson is one of the “top 10″ stadiums in the country.

“EMU’s student government budget differs from other Michigan universities”

From The Eastern Echo comes “EMU’s student government budget differs from other Michigan universities,” which notes the differences between how much money EMU’s student govern receives every year versus comparable institutions. From the intro:

Eastern Michigan University Student Government’s reserve account is currently at $90,389.20. This is in addition to the 2014-15 budget of $256,439.35.

Expenditures from reserve accounts are not regulated by Student Government bylaws or voted on by the Student Government Senate. As currently constructed, Student Government President Desmond Miller has sole authority on use of the reserves.

The problem with this piece is it doesn’t explain at all what student government does with this money. $250K plus a $90K “slush fund” is a lot of money; assuming that student government officers and representatives aren’t being paid, what are they spending this money on exactly? That’s a lot of money for buying pizza for meetings or whatever.

Emus groovy new helmets and bricks and grey turf will bring a win, not

I kind of wish I could go to the game this Saturday, the Emus versus the Buffalo Bulls, but I’ve got previously scheduled things I need to do. As far as I can tell, it’s going to be perfect football watching weather Saturday, it’s homecoming (so I am sure there are some hijinks associated with all of that), and the Emus are only 14 point underdogs.

And aren’t we all a little curious about what goofy thing is going to be a part of “The Factory” marketing juggernaut? Maybe even more giant wrenches and sledge hammers? Maybe a bigger and even more dangerous wall? Perhaps the game will begin with an actual automotive assembly line: that is, instead of storming onto the field, the team will instead line up and literally demonstrate their work in “The Factory.” They will build a car before our eyes, and then, circus-style, they will all cram into it and drive it around the track.

Well, I can dream, can’t I?

Whatever happens, I am pretty sure it will feature the new helmets. mLive has an article about the magic helmets, “EMU football team adds new helmet design to rotation, equipment staff discusses fresh look.” As the article points out, EMU is far from the first team to waste a ridiculous amount of money wear some alternative helmets. But I have to say there are a lot of really cringe-worthy passages in this article. For example:

“When the players saw them for the first time, they were hooting, and hollering,” EMU assistant athletics director for equipment operations Tommy Rapier said. “It was like Santa Claus coming in.”

Yes, because what college football is all about is the toys.

And this:

“It’s actually a full decal, with the whole helmet covered, and it’s pretty expensive,” Rapier said. “They are called hydro-decals. It’s a decal floating in a fluid, they dip the helmet into it and cut off the excess to smooth it out. All Notre Dame’s new golden helmets use the hydro-decals.”

If a regular helmet costs $250, Rapier estimates that a full hydro-decal wrap would cost $300 per helmet with an additional cost to do the face mask.

Though to be fair, Rapier also points out that these helmets have to be refinished reconditioned every year anyway. So I guess there is at least some need for new helmets at least once in a while.

And then there’s this:

While there are no rules limiting the number of helmets a team can have, Rapier doesn’t expect the Eagles to add a fourth.

“There’s no rules, just ask Oregon,” Rapier said, jokingly referring to the variety of uniforms and helmets the program uses. “It’s one of those things the NCAA hasn’t stepped in on yet, but I don’t foresee us going to more than three helmets.”

Ha! Ha ha! So funny to joke about the ways that the NCAA allows college football to waste boatloads of money.

“Ypsilanti City Council Member Susan Moeller resigns”

A sort of Ypsilanti and EMU story: from mLive, “Ypsilanti City Council Member Susan Moeller resigns.” I assume most regular readers know this, but Moeller is also the former president of the EMU-AAUP and I think she is currently the treasurer. A quote from the article:

“After much thought, I have decided that I need to resign my position on the city council for personal reasons. The care of my elderly parents and a bedridden aunt requires too much of my time and attention,” Moeller wrote. “I believe someone else from Ward 2 would be better able to represent the residents as I am not able at this time to give the position proper attention.

“I enjoyed working with all of you and wish you all the best in the coming year.”

And in other Board of Regents Meeting News…

Geoff “Geoff” Larcom sent me an email pointing out a few other developments from Tuesday’s Board of Regents meeting I thought were worth passing along and briefly commenting on:

“EMU BoR Extends Contract of President Susan Martin.” At least until July 2016. I don’t disagree with this move– I think Martin has been pretty good– and it’s really just an extension of an extension that happened in 2013.  But back in 2012, when former BoR member/chair Roy Wilbanks was gunning for Martin and accusing her of “misuse of alcohol,” Martin’s future was a lot less certain.

“Eastern Michigan University outlines plan to retain, graduate more men of color.” I think the name of the initiative– “BrotherHOOD Initiative”– is kind of silly, but sure, it seems like a good idea.

And other stuff like more cops, more financial aid, etc., etc.