Strategies for Educational Success: A Reflection Journal Jenelle Oberholtzer

Week 1: Introduction - Equity in Higher Education

Relationship Between Equity and Excellence in Higher Ed

My first learning objective was to be able to define "equity" and "excellence" in higher education. We started to discuss both of these concepts during our first Live Classroom via Zoom on Tuesday. My take away from the discussion was that equity referred to ensuring equal access to higher education for underrepresented populations (e.g. students from socioeconomic and ethnic minority groups). However, I learned that equity extends beyond meaningful access to include the provision of academic supports to all students, based upon their needs, to improve their learning experience and persistence towards achieving their educational goals. While institutions of higher education (IHEs) excellence is in part determined by it ability to provide equitable student engagement and learning opportunities for all of its student subpopulations (Harper & Quaye, 2015).

Exploring Race-Neutral Admissions Initiatives

During our Week 1 discussion board, we explored the efficiency of race-neutral admissions initiatives in achieving greater equity in higher education. I discussed how IHEs have adopted admissions plans that sought to increase access to disadvantaged students by look at a variety of socioeconomic factors (e.g. family income, family structure, family level of education). Some institutions chose this type of race-neutral strategy as a proxy (i.e. substitute) for race; this is based on the fact that students of color are more likely than white counterparts to meet socioeconomic criteria associated with disadvantaged populations. Initially, I thought IHEs adopted such policies with the intent of focusing on enhancing accessibility to higher education to students who face significant financial obstacles, regardless of their ethnic/racial background. What I discovered is that institutions sought to maintain the diversity of their student body, which is valuable to helping students broaden their perspective by listening to the experiences and interpretations of others, without following affirmative action (often as the result of judicial bans or the burden of proving that race-neutral factors could not achieve the same institutional goals).

Defining Educational Success: Differences Based on IHE Types

Also during our first Live Classroom, Professor Flowers initiated an organic discussion in which we talked about what we perceived to be the meaning of educational success. When Sandra said, "to meet your goals," she verbalized exactly what I was thinking! When posed the question, I considered how students enroll at a postsecondary institution for various different personal and/or professional goals; therefore, each student has their own personal definition of what success is to them. Some may focus on academics, others may also seek to develop other areas of themselves in addition to their intellect. Likewise, success looks different for each college/university from an institutional perspective. Some institutions are dedicated primarily to increasing public access to higher education, such as community colleges; others perceive success in cultivating in-demand skills and competencies, enabling graduates to be more marketable in our knowledge-based economy that values STEM education, such as research universities; and still others would define success in fostering the growth of well-rounded, global citizens who have a strong sense of social responsibility and broad range of knowledge and skills valued in an increasingly diverse society, such as liberal arts institutions.

Key Take Aways from Making Engagement Equitable for Students in U.S. Higher Education

Harper et al. (2015) gave me the following four key learning points:

1) In addition to the amount of energy a student invests in his/her in and out-of-class learning experiences, student engagement specifically is associated with the "resources and organization[al]" efforts an IHE makes to help students become active participants in educationally meaningful learning opportunities, which are achieved through the curriculum and student supports/services (p. 2-3). As such, it is the responsibility of all faculty, administrators, and staff to develop and foster meaningful opportunities for students to feel connected to the campus (p. 6).

2) Students who are actively engaged in (as opposed to simply involved with) academic and extracurricular high-impact learning activities, including conducting "research with faculty, study [away programs], service learning [opportunities], and internships," are more likely to continue further their postsecondary education through graduation (p. 3).

3) An effective method to determine how to improve student engagement at an IHE is to learn from the insights offered by students who are among the least involved with "educationally purposeful activities" on campus (p. 8). In this way, institutional leadership benefit from these students' first-hand experiences as well as help these marginalized students feel that they have an impact on the decisions being made to improve the learning experience for them and their peers (p. 8-9).

4) One of the greatest obstacles students from diverse backgrounds encounter that hinder their ability to gain meaningful access to, and reap the full benefits of, engagement opportunities is the disparity between an IHE's values that it claims to embrace and those that are exhibited through policies and practices (p. 11).

Impact Extracurricular Educational Activities on Other Areas of Development

After reading Kuh's (1993) qualitative study on the influence of extracurricular collegiate experiences on the significant outcomes (according to students) as determined through the analysis of information gathered through a series of semi-structured interviews with seniors at multiple IHEs, I agree with three of the four conclusions posited by the researcher. The study and its findings reinforced my belief that: 1) extracurricular experiences yield significant improvements to students' "learning and personal development," 2) both "academic skills and knowledge acquisition" are more strongly associated by students with the IHE's curricular learning opportunities than out-of-classroom experiences, and 3) the difference in the type of IHE is correlated with the variance in the percentage of students who reported gaining the five key identified outcomes (Kuh, 1993, p. 300-301). I agree with the first conclusion based upon both my understanding of student development theories (e.g. Astin's theory of involvement and Schlossberg theory of mattering) paired with my own qualitative study I conducted for my MSHE capstone, which was a a programmatic assessment of my institution's study away program in cultivating intercultural soft skills. Both the identified theories and my capstone research findings support this conclusion. The second conclusion resonates with my own personal postsecondary learning experience and it was well-supported by Kuh's qualitative findings. And, thirdly, I have learned this week through our discussions and assigned readings that different types of IHEs operate according to different missions. As such, the emphasis on the importance of extracurricular organizations, clubs, events, and learning opportunities varies, as does the number and variation of the opportunities made available at each institutional type. For example, Kuh (1993) found that liberal arts IHEs reported more changes in the "cognitive complexity, knowledge and academic skills, and altruism and estheticism than students at [research universities and institutions in urban settings]." This is aligned with liberal arts IHEs' shared mission of cultivating graduates who can appreciate the differences between themselves and others from different social backgrounds, who truly value and respect diversity and share a sense of social responsibility as a global citizen (Kettering Foundation, 2012).

I disagree with Anaya's (1996) finding that indicated that students' communication development were negatively correlated with increased engaged in extracurricular activities. The researcher indicated that this finding was contradictory to prior research findings and accounted for this difference, in part, as a result of the unique variables used to "measure student learning" (p. 618). I agree with the reason provided for the discrepancy, but I think that prior researchers' variables are more reliable than using the standardized GRE exam scores, given that population examined consisted of students from various backgrounds and standardized tests have been designed for students belonging to the majority. Thus, I believe Anaya's (1996) finding is less reliable.

References

Anaya, G. (1996). College experiences and student learning: The influence of active learning, college environments and co-curricular activities. Journal of College Student Development, 37(6), 611-622.

Harper, S. R., & Quaye, S. J. (2015). Making engagement equitable for students in U.S. higher education. In Student engagement in higher education: Theoretical perspectives and practical approaches for diverse populations (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.

Kettering Foundation. (2012, August 14). Shaping our future: How should higher education help us create the society we want? [video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBSQXwt09iU

Kuh, G. D. (1993). In their own words: What students learn outside the classroom. American Educational Research Journal, 30(2), 277-304.

Week 2: Engaging students of color & special purpose institutions

Special Purpose Institutions: Continued Role as Leaders in Higher Ed Equity

This week, I learned more about the continued relevance and significance of special purpose institutions, such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCU), in ensuring the personal and academic growth of students of color. One of the key points that still resonates with me came from Dr. Rochon, President of Tuskegee University, in which he articulated how individuals who think that HBCUs and other special purpose institutions are not as relevant in contemporary society given the progress that has been made to improve accessibility of higher education for students of color and the passing of civil rights legislation do not fully understand or appreciate how they are leaders in the persistence and graduation of students of color as well as promoters of equity in higher education and centers for achieving social mobility (Salzburg Global Seminar, 2012). He explained how HBCUs, for example, are the source of a disproportionate share of graduates of color in the U.S. (Salzburg Global Seminar, 2012). Given the statistical significance of the role of special purpose institutions in conferring postsecondary degrees to students of color, it is evident that these institutions are adept at creating a truly engaging learning and social environment for the students they support. I agree that special interest institutions are helping to counter the effects of the "perfect storm" we learned about, which consisted of a combination of three factors: a) deficient adult literacy rates, b) the increased demand for higher education graduates equipped with skills needed in a knowledge-based economy, and 3) the influx of larger numbers of workers willing to accept meager pay (Dobbs, 2007).

Cultivating Succeess Through Conducive Learning Environment for Students of Color

Some of the take aways that I gained from this week on elements that are tied to institutional measures of success for these target populations are: 1) outreach and mentoring of targeted audiences should begin prior to students entering secondary school, 2) the integration of culture and curriculum, 3) hiring empathetic (or culturally sensitive) faculty and staff who reflect diversity of their student body, 4) cultivating a positive racial climate, and 5) aligning institutional principles (or values) with demonstrated initiatives (Global Seminar, 2012; Kuh, 2009; Leech Lake Tribal College, 2009). Early outreach can help underrepresented students to get the support they need to prepare for the rigors and challenges of adapting to college life. It also enables them to get connected with resources that can improve their likelihood of successfully applying, getting accepted, and matriculating. By infusing culture intro coursework, students can feel connected to what they are studying and potentially gain appreciation and insight regarding the applicability of what they are learning to their personal lives (Leech Lake Tribal College, 2009). By hiring culturally sensitive and representative employees, institutions can help students feel supported by mentors who share common experiences and they can feel comfortable going to for advice. And resources and support should be invested in strengthening of cultural safe spaces, which include cultural student organizations, as a result of their impact on helping students to foster a sense of belonging and safety (Quaye, Griffin, & Museus, 2015). Peer support groups for underrepresented students are also important because their existence enables students to create another informal support network of people who experience similar struggles and can encourage one another (Quaye et al., 2015).

Forming Connections with Prior Coursework & Daily Work Experiences

While reading Quaye et al. (2015) and Griffin (2013), I started to make connections with information I had learned in a prior Race and Ethnic Relations course I had taken during my undergraduate program. I credit the previous class with helping me to deepen my appreciation of the economical disadvantages that are tied to historical social inequity that helped motivate institutional leaders to embrace affirmative action policies (prior to more recent activities by some to ban race oriented admissions tactics). Both the former and my current class emphasis that damaging effects of persistent racial tensions and prejudices have on students of color as well as their informal support networks within their community (e.g. same-ethnicity faculty/staff/administrators, family members, advisors, etc.) (Griffin, 2013). They helped me to realize how student affairs professional, and faculty, often play a critical role in fostering of successful students and graduates and, consequently, to the effort of strengthening enrollment equity and social mobility. Griffin (2013) opened my eyes to the need for institutions to better support their diverse faculty members, who often invest additional energy to work with what some would classify as at-risk students.

Actions I Can Incorporate In Workplace

Now that I can recognize the burden it can be on students to serve as "native informants," I will strive in the workplace to do my part in lessening this burden for my peers from diverse backgrounds, by trying not to put them or minority students under such pressure (Quaye et al., 2015). I can help improve the cultural climate at my institution my not underestimating the influence I can have on students of color by expressing interest in their well-being, being dedicated to delivering exceptional quality service, helping to strengthen their sense of mattering (e.g. recognizing/remembering students, actively listening to concerns/challenges). Recently, I dedicated my efforts in employing strengths based advising with students of color, by helping them to discover how to harness their own successes to address new problems. I also dedicated more time to actively listening in conversations, which resulted in positive feedback from international students of color feeling important/valued at our institution. In those conversations, I learned about how these students tend to feel marginalized when employees prioritize what is convenient ahead of what is in the best interest or will better meet the needs of the student.

References:

Dobbs, L. (2007, February 5). US education - The perfect storm [video file]. CNN. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fTS1ToseiE

Griffin, K. A. (2013). Voices of the "othermothers": Reconsidering black professors' relationships with black students as a form of social exchange. The Journal of Negro Education, 82(2), 169-183.

Kuh, G. D. (2009, December/November). What student affairs professionals need to know about student engagement. Journal of College Student Development, 50(6), 683-706.

Leech Lake Tribal College. (2009, October 24). Leech Lake Tribal College: Making a difference [video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWYnwJldtlU

Quaye, S. J., Griffin, K. A., & Museus, S. D. (2015). Engaging students of color. In Student engagement in higher education: Theoretical perspectives and practical approaches for diverse populations (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.

Salzburg Global Seminar. (2012, October 5). The role of HBCUs in achieving equity in higher education [video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvpeN2aY5Xc

Week 3: Engaging international students

International Students' Influence on Creating an Enriching Higher Learning Experience

International students play a significant role in the cultivation of an enriching learning environment at U.S. colleges and universities. These students contributing to the financial strength of an institution, the result of often paying higher tuition and fees as well as making up a sizable percentage of student researchers and grant writers, which generate the institution other sources of funding and recognition among scientific organizations (Lee, 2015). Their significant participation in STEM academic programs and initiatives also helps to attention from prospective students, donors, and grantfunders. International students are also key contributors to building a diverse social environment on campus, one in which students are encouraged to explore new perspectives as well as debate and actively participate in academic circles (Hanassab & Tidwell, 2002). Thus, international students are an important sub-population of learners at a college/university that institutions should support to improve persistence and student satisfaction, especially given their strategic, capital, and academic contributions (Hanassab et al., 2002). But, how can student affairs professionals best support international students? We must first assess their needs, perhaps using a survey tool which would help to quick collect this feedback from multiple students as a low cost method.

Compounding Challenges Experienced by International Students

International students whose primary language is other than English would be likely to encounter a language barrier while attending an American college/university (Lee, 2015). Language barriers often only exacerbate some of the challenges that many international students experience, regardless of their English fluency, which pertain to challenges building meaningful relationships with peers, which is important in developing an informal support network while studying abroad (Tseng & Newton, 2002). Some of the key findings Tseng et al. (2002) learned from their qualitative study was that international students often employ soft skills in effort to maintain their well-being, including (but not limited to) seeking guidance when facing difficulties, fostering a strong relationship with their faculty and advisors, and developing "cultural and social contacts" (p. 596). Forming an informal support network help all students to cope with frustrations as well as gain a sense of camaraderie and mattering, which ultimately influences their persistence (Schlossberg, 1989). Furthermore, Lee (2015) points out that students who experience a language barrier may face challenges both with regard to academic performance and socio-cultural adjustment while abroad, which have the potential to lead to social isolation or even depression. The needs of an institution's international students may vary based upon where the students hail from, thus it is important to provide the necessary supports by way of the student affairs personnel to complement the attention of staff who were dedicated to international recruitment (Lee, 2015). A needs assessment could help student affairs professional to identify the specific needs of the students they serve, which will be valuable information in developing support programming for this target subpopulation.

Recommended Practices for Professionals Supporting International Students

After reviewing the learning content for Week 3, there are several recommended practices that student affairs professionals working with international students can engage in to help meet common needs of this constituents.

Enhancing International Student Orientation Programs. First, it would be beneficial to incorporate into the international students' orientation programming information on how to avoid being taken advantage of by predatory domestic individuals seeking to profit from international students' lack of familiarity with the social norms of the U.S. (International Student TV, 2008). The orientation program should include suggestions for areas to safely travel in the surrounding community as well as less reputable areas that may be advisable to avoid (International Student TV, 2008). Giving a session on American Culture 101, if you will, in which students can learn some of the key social norms of the society, which will help them to adapt to life and learning in the U.S. Furthermore, hosting a discussion that enables international students to interact and collaboratively identify what their own social values are from their home countries and comparing them to those they were advised are exhibited in American culture could help them to strengthen their intercultural awareness (International Student TV, 2008). By holding such programs, international students can work on forming relationships with peers who may be experiencing similar challenges, which could become the start of their informal support network, as well as recognizing the professionals that work at the college/university that can serve as resources and professional support (particularly for those who are dedicated to serving international students).

Accelerated English Language Learning & Bridge Programs. The development of a bridge program or accelerated English Language Learning (ELL) program could also prove to be a valuable asset to students who face more intense language barriers (Northern Arizona University, 2008). By learning college-level English either concurrent or prior to taking college-level classes on campus, international students can be better prepared to more actively engage in their discussions in class, completion of academic assignments, as well as in developing relationships with domestic students.

Service Delivery with international students in mind. From my personal interaction with international students at my institution, I have heard that it would be beneficial for the college/university to be mindful of the needs of international students when delivering certain services. For example, it is important to provide dining options that are viable for students from different religious and cultural backgrounds. My institution recruits several students from Saudi Arabia, thus many of those students practice the Muslim faith. The food that is offered should include options are not subject to cross contamination with pork products. Furthermore, all institutions should strive to have their required textbooks up to date a few weeks prior to class, so that international students in particular have the ability to order their textbooks and start to get familiar with the material a week or two prior to classes starting. This will allow enough time for students to get a head start in fulfilling the assigned readings, which would especially be valued by students who need to take more time when reading due to language barriers. Thus, as Hanassab et al. (2002) concluded, colleges and universities need to educate their employees on the varying needs of international students. And while there are some shared needs among students from similar backgrounds, just like any other constituency, there are also needs that vary on a personal level (Hanassab et al., 2002).

References:

Hanassab, S. & Tidwell, R. (2002, Winter). International students in higher education: Identification of needs and implications for policy and practice. Journal of Studies in International Education, 6(4), 305-322.

International Student TV. (2008, April 13). Tips for international students [video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c66CzhERrGE

Lee, J. J. (2015). Engaging international students. In Student engagement in higher education: Theoretical perspectives and practical approaches for diverse populations (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.

Northern Arizona University. (2008, June 6). Northern Arizona University international student video [video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzY4YXHnviE

Schlossberg, N.K. (1989). Marginality and Mattering: Key Issues in Building Community. New Directions for Student Services, 48, 5–15.

Tseng, W., & Newton, F. B. (2002). International students' strategies for well-being. College Student Journal, 591-597. Retrieved from https://learn.dcollege.net/webapps/blackboard/execute/content/file?cmd=view&content_id=_5012825_1&course_id=_165829_1

Week 4: Engaging Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Trans* Students

Identity Development During College for Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual (LGB) Students

Students may find they are able to explore their sexual identity during their time at a college or university given that postsecondary institutions campus cultures often provides a sense of security to students as they start their independent journey of personal development, while they transition into early adulthood (Drexel University, n.d.). College is a time of personal growth and exploration for many undergraduates, but for lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) students, their exploration or acceptance of their sexuality can add additional stresses to their experience. For example, while adapting to a new social environment and forming new connections for their informal support network, LGB students may fear encountering discrimination from their peers or anxiety when determining who they can trust (Cornell University, 2012). This complicates to some extent the struggle that some college students face with finding a sense of belonging (i.e. acceptance) in a campus community. In addition, LGB students must consider the ramifications of coming out to various social circles while in college (Stewart & Howard-Hamilton, 2015). As a result, some LGB students may face challenges related to selectively coming out (Drexel University, n.d.).

Strategies To Empower & Support LGB Students

Strategies that I learned this week that can help LGB students have a positive learning experience include the establishment of safe spaces, if they are they are lacking on campus; incorporating sexuality into the curriculum; supporting the creation and strengthening of LGB student organizations; and connecting LGB students with positive LBG role models (Stewart et al., 2015).

Establishment of safe spaces. Colleges and universities should provide safe spaces for students who feel marginalized while they are questioning their sexuality or as a result of identifying with a non-heterosexual, minority group in a typically "heteronormative" environment (Stewart et al., 2015; Drexel University, n.d.). These spaces provide a designated location for LGB students and allied students to meet, share experiences, encourage one another, debunk myths, and meet with trained and empathetic professional staff who can provide resources and support for students facing LGB issues (Cornell University, 2012). These safe spaces have the opportunity of serving dual purposes in 1) supporting LGB students directly as they navigate issues and 2) educating other members of the campus community about LGB identities (Stewart et al., 2015). Just this past week, I was excited to learn that my institution established such a safe space dedicated to LGBTQ students called, Haven, which offers confidential, staff-led support (Susquehanna University, 2017). This initiative was led by the university's Center for Intercultural & Community Engagement.

Incorporating sexuality into the curriculum. Academic leadership should make efforts to incorporate in class discussions related to topics including sexual identity, homophobia, "heterosexism and heteronormativity" in society (Stewart et al., 2015, p. 131). This can be achieved by developing new courses or learning objectives for existing courses under different departments (e.g. history, sociology, psychology, creative writing, art, human resource management, communications, public relations, etc.). Additionally, addressing some key resources available to students while they explore their sexuality should be offered as part of orientation programs at college for incoming students.

Supporting LGB student organizations. Similar to how students of minority ethnic/racial backgrounds should be provided opportunities to socialize with other peers that share similar backgrounds, LGB students should also have student organizations to help them to connect with one another to serve as an informal support network (Stewart et al., 2015). As discussed previously with other minority groups, the way to counter feelings of marginality is to put into place supports that help students to foster a sense of belonging and mattering to their campus community (Schlossberg, 1989).

Connecting LGB students with positive LBG role models. Additionally, it is important to help LGB students to be able to connect with positive role models that are in their community. Colleges should have programming in place to encourage faculty and staff to mentor and advise LGB students on campus. This type of connection can help motivate LGB students, help them to expand their informal support network outside of their peers, and recognize that their college/university also respect and value the contributions of LGB individuals by hiring representatives of their community that can help ensure that the voices of this student subpopulation are heard and supported.

Engaging Transgender Students

Given that there is less research existing on the needs of trans* students and theories on how to meet those needs, it is essential for colleges and universities to make a conscious effort to gather information from primary sources: their own trans* students (Marine & Catalano, 2015). By collecting information from trans* students regarding their experiences and needs, institutions can harness that information to help develop strategies to better support them by allowing their feedback to drive decisions. In addition, trans* students could also benefit from the establishment of safe spaces on campus where they can discuss concerning issues, struggles, etc. without fear of being further marginalized or even not taken seriously. Another way that colleges and universities can better support this growing population is by providing employees with opportunities for professional development by way of learning best practices in serving students belonging to this community (Marine et al., 2015).

Strategies to Engage & Support LGBTQ Students

Colleges and universities can implement some of the following initiatives to better support its students who identify with marginalized gender identity groups: assessing whether or not policies and protocols should be updated to better serve the needs of LGBTQ students. Institutions should consider when reviewing their own policies, particularly when it comes to communicating about students with external parties, such as their parents (or guardians) and employers (jacob750, 2012). In addition, they should consider ways that they can improve the student's learning experiences. In one video I encountered this week (see below), I was excited to learn that my institution was succeeding with regard to addressing the needs of students by harnessing students' preferred (i.e. chosen) name and using that to display for instructors on rosters other system functionality such as grading, to help students to be addressed in a way that they feel comfortable (Chronicle of Higher Education, 2015).

Key Take Aways on Supporting LGBTQ Students

My key take aways from this week were to remember that although these minority groups are often grouped together, each have unique needs, experiences, and identities (Stewart et al., 2015). Furthermore, other forms of identity have led to the development of "communities within communities" among the LGBTQ population (Stewart et al., 2015, p. 122). While LGB students and trans* students may face similar adversities in a heteronormative campus community and society at large, the fact that their key difference lies in two different components of human identity lead to both groups facing some unique challenges related to discrimination and fostering that sense of belongining on-campus (Stewart et al., 2015). The solutions that are proposed for both populations tend to revolve around increasing awareness (i.e. education) among the heterosexual and cisgender majority, providing resources and trained, supportive staff to help students traverse their personal development, and fostering connections with other similar students on campus as well as faculty and staff who can empathize with their experiences. Together, I believe these strategies can create meaningful opportunities to help improve students' learning experiences.

References:

Chronicle of Higher Education. (2015, September 3). 'Ask me': What LGBTQ students want their professors to know [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnbnF8QAnsY

Cornell University. [CornellUniversity GALA]. (2012, December 6). Cornell University's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender resource center [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4aYG5lzbc

Drexel University. (n.d.). Week 4: Strategies for educational success [PowerPoint presentation]. Retrieved from https://learn.dcollege.net/ bbcswebdav/pid-5012934-dt-content-rid-25167126_1/courses/21772.201625/ Week%204/Week%204%20Presentation/index.html

[jacob750]. (2012, November 3). Transgender college students [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pvnBlHboWI

Marine, S. B., & Catalano, C. J. (2015). Engaging lesbian, gay, and bisexual students on college campuses. In Student engagement in higher education: Theoretical perspectives and practical approaches for diverse populations (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.

Schlossberg, N.K. (1989). Marginality and Mattering: Key Issues in Building Community. New Directions for Student Services, 48, 5–15.

Stewart, D., & Howard-Hamilton, M. F. (2015). Engaging lesbian, gay, and bisexual students on college campuses. In Student engagement in higher education: Theoretical perspectives and practical approaches for diverse populations (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.

Susquehanna University. (2017). Campus activities: Haven. Retrieved from https://mysu.susqu.edu/staff/Pages/default.aspx

Week 5: Engaging students with disabilities

Factors that Contribute to Underwhelming Campus Climate

Although students with disabilities were not well-represented at colleges and universities in the past, their numbers among postsecondary learners has increased over the years since the passing of legislation including, but not limited to, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (Beilke, J. R., & Yssel, N., 1999). However, despite the gains achieved through these legal mandates, students with disabilities continue to face challenges that inhibit them from fully engaging in the campus community (Beilke et al., 1999). While some of those challenges include false preconceptions on the part of peers, as well as some university employees, others include a lack of familiarity with the needs of this subpopulation from the administrative standpoint and a lack of empathy and "understanding" from instructors (Beilke et al., 1999). This seems especially true for students with "invisible" disabilities, such as learning disabilities, autism, and depression. When combined, these negative attitudes, stereotypes, and misinformation held by faculty, staff, and peers contribute towards a "chilly [campus] climate" for students with disabilities (Beilke et al., 1999).

Altering the Atmosphere on Campus to be More Receptive & Supportive of Students with Disabilities

To counter these factors, higher education institutions should seek to educate their faculty and straff about disabilities in order to demystify and clarify the challenges students with disabilities may face, providing the training and tools to support these students to get the most out of their learning experiences and personal development. In this way, employees will feel better prepared to understand and fulfill the needs of this growing subpopulation of students. It is equally important to showcase how students with disabilities offer unique perspectives on-campus and how they are, in fact, significant contributors to the campus community. Faculty and staff can be more inclusive of students with disabilities within the campus culture by, first, keeping an open mind (i.e. being "prepared to be surprised") (Institute for Community Inclusion, 2010). In Massachusetts, the Inclusive Concurrent Education (ICE) program enabled students with intellectual disabilities to have access to a collegiate learning experience through partnerships with community colleges, while they were in the transitional age between adolescence and adulthood - having completed four years of high school yet not having earned their diploma yet (Institute for Community Inclusion, 2010). When students with disabilities joined classes, their cohort of peers often benefited from their unique perspective, which is influenced from a different life experiences, as well as motivate them to put forth just as much dedication as these students who truly felt privileged to be going to college (Institute for Community Inclusion, 2010).

Connecting to Prior Work Experience at Office of Developmental Programs, Autism Services

While watching ICE's video regarding this program in Massachusetts, I was able to reflect upon my experiences while I worked in the Pennsylvania Office of Developmental Programs, particularly in the Bureau of Autism Services. From my previous work experience, I know that there are education systems in which students with intellectual and developmental disabilities often go without services by opting to graduate from high school, which results in the lose of their supports from the K-12 system, while they are not yet old enough to be eligible for adult services that often do not start until they reach age 21. Thus, leaders often refer to this gap in service delivery as the 'rabbit hole' (Wall, N., personal communication, October 26, 2015). To bridge this gap, programs such as the ICE should be supported by higher education institutions as well as federal and state departments, to foster continued social and intellectual development, the strengthening of in-demand soft skills, and to make up for some lost services as a result of enrolling in college-level coursework.

Tactics to Strengthen Engagement for Students with Disabilities

Some of the strategies that I learned this week on how students with disabilities can be better engaged both inside and outside of the classroom include faculty members utilizing "accessible" settings that are conducive to meaningful learning opportunities as well as "universal instructional designs" (Brown & Broido, 2015, p. 197). Additionally, colleges and universities could look to their Office of Disability Services for both educating current employees about "invisible" disabilities, in devising interventions with their student affairs staff, and in the assessment of learning outcomes and other inclusive initiatives to determine their relative value and efficiency (Brown et al., 2015, p. 201).

I strongly agree with the recommendation of other offices collaborating with the Office of Disability Services, which can be valuable resource in helping to counter false preconceptions and stereotypes and help the campus community to perceive disabilities as another factor that contribute towards the overall diversity of the student body, which will ultimately help their other students for interactions with other people with disabilities in the future. I also truly believe that by including students with a variety of different disabilities in the student body, that all students who have the opportunity to learn with them will benefit from an enriched learning experience because of their different life experiences, which ultimately shape their unique perception of our world. This reminds me of a short video that was featured in one of my last In-Service Learning Retreats while I worked at the Bureau of Autism, which is driven home by the speaker, who has a positive outlook on her autism, much like Temple Grandin (see below).

References:

Beilke, J. R., & Yssel, N. (1999, September). The chilly climate for students with disabilites in higher education. College Student Journal, 33(3), 1-7.

Brown, K., & Broido, E. M. (2015). Engaging students with disabilities. In Student engagement in higher education: Theoretical perspectives and practical approaches for diverse populations (2nd ed.), pp. 187-207. New York: Routledge.

Institute for Community Inclusion. [communityinclusion]. (2010, March 1). The inclusive concurrent enrollment initiative video [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhDV-O_CVkM

King, R. (2014, November 21). How autism freed me to be myself [Video file]. TED. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQ95xlZeHo8

Week 6: Engaging religious minority students

Acknowledging & Addressing Christian Privilege in Higher Education

Early in the week, our assigned readings pointed out the common ways that colleges and universities perpetuate Christian privilege. The alignment of scheduled breaks, menu choices with Christian holidays and dietary practices as well as the accessibility to facilities for practicing Christian worship are three key ways that many colleges and universities contribute to the persistence of Christian privilege (Ahmadi & Cole, 2015; Seifert, 2007). Additionally, religious minority students may have fewer faculty and staff are likely to share, and consequently represent, their faith or support their spiritual development (Ahmadi et al., 2015). These environmental conditions that collectively can lead religious minority students to feel marginalized on college campuses (Ahmadi et al., 2015). Ahmadi et al. (2015) argues that this has the potential to hinder their spiritual and other facets of personal development as well as their academic performance.

Supporting Religious Minority Studies on Campus

Given the aforementioned ways that colleges and universities can set religious minority students up for disadvantage, they can similarly work towards being consciously aware of them and furthermore countering these disadvantages by offering this sub-population with the supports and flexibility that they equally deserve. For example, colleges and universities should provide dining selections for students who adhere to religious dietary restrictions, such as offering a variety of Kosher foods for its Jewish students, alternatives meats to beef as well as a variety of vegetarian options for its Hindu students, and menu selections untainted by pork products for its Muslim students. This would be comparable to the courtesy often extended to Catholic students who abstain from eating meat aside from fish on Fridays. For students who pay for board expenses, it is only appropriate for the institution to provide viable sustenance options. Furthermore, Ahmadi et al. (2015) shared how the provision of such dietary needs can help dining halls to realize their potential of serving as "facilitat[ors] of natural conversation [for students from diverse backgrounds]". This sentiment was shared by members of the Leicester College community (Pukaarnews, 2014). Another way that postsecondary institutions can support its religious minority students is by implementing academic policies that require faculty to be accommodating of students taking personal religious holidays during the semester (e.g. flexibility in completing assignment around and striving to avoid deadlines on major religious holidays such as Diwali, Yom Kippur, and Eid-al-Adha in the fall semester).

Establishing Safe Spaces for Religious Community, Worship, and Dialogue

In Week 6, I broadened my awareness for the need to foster save spaces for also religious minorities to connect with and have open conversations with their fellow believers as well as those who follow different spiritual faiths (Ahmadi et al., 2015; Seifert, 2007). This was a topic that I touched on in our weekly discussion, as a supportive solution to addressing religious minority student organizations that were at odds with one another after a proposed pamphlet that Jewish students found offensive that was planned to be distributed by a Muslim Student Association. These safe spaces can be established for two key objectives: 1) providing a space for religious minority students to assemble with peers who share their religious faith, which can cultivate a stronger sense of mattering and community, and 2) providing a space for students from different religious backgrounds to communicate with one another and share their different perspectives for academic discourse, which can help all students to broaden their worldview and learn from other religious groups (Adhmadi et al., 2015; Schlossberg, 1989).

The provision of spaces for underrepresented students to meet with other members of their minority faith allow them to study, practice, or otherwise express their faith, support one another by forming an informal network of peers, and an opportunity to establish mentorships with faculty or staff who can serve as role models and advisors for concerns that the students feel they need guidance from an experienced student support professional or instructor (Admadi et al., 2015; Seifert, 2007). Astin & Astin (2003) also indicated that college student participants in their study voiced their "expectation [for their institution to play an active role in furthering their] spiritual development" (p. 4). By providing a safe space for students of multiple backgrounds to congregate and talk about topics of interest or particular relevance, they will be providing a social atmosphere that has the potential to help them grow spiritually, by helping them to identify, challenge, or reaffirm their faith.

Demonstrating Commitment to Spiritual Growth & Religious Plurality

Colleges and universities should also sponsor events that encourage all members of the campus community to join with minority religions to learn about their culture and shared values (Pukaarnews, 2014). These interfaith organizations/group events can provide opportunities for self-evaluation and reflection (Seifert, 2007). The video below captures such an event as well as the positive testimonies by members of religious majority and minority representatives across Leicester College's campus (Pukaarnews, 2014). Ahmadi et al. (2015) posits that these safe spaces can benefit all students; religious minority students can feel included on campus as the result of their institution offering such accommodations, spaces, and sponsored events and majority students can become attuned to privileges they may take for granted.

References:

Ahmadi, S., & Cole, D. (2015). Engaging religious minority students. In Student engagement in higher education: Theoretical perspectives and practical approaches for diverse populations (2nd ed.), pp. 171-185. New York: Routledge.

Annenberg Media. (2016, April 1). What it's like being Muslim in college [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hN8BLOmVaco

Astin, A. & Astin, H. (2003). The spiritual life of college students: A national study of college students' search for meaning and purpose. Higher Education Research Institute. Los Angeles, CA: University of California, Los Angeles.

Pukaarnews. (2014, May 13). Staff and students get a taste of Sikh culture at Leicester College [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHbw-JAVc0U

Schlossberg, N.K. (1989). Marginality and Mattering: Key Issues in Building Community. New Directions for Student Services, 48, 5–15.

Seifert, T. (2007, May-June). Understanding Christian privilege: Managing the tensions of spiritual plurality. About Campus 12 (2), 10-17. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Week 7: Engaging Low-Income Students

In Week 7, the first notion that seems like common-sense in hindsight, but truly was a learning point was considering how the postsecondary experience of low-income students differs from their affluent counterparts (Kezar, Walpole, & Perna, 2015). The difference in their financial resources inherently changes how these two subpopulations will experience higher education. For example, low-income students are less likely to be able to dedicate all of their energy towards their education, given that they are more likely to be employed while in college to help cover their costs of attendance (Kezar et al., 2015). I know this first-hand, as I am currently completing my masters degree part-time, given that I am working on paying for my tuition through concurrent employment.

Ivory Tower Discussion

Later in the week, I participated in a panel discussion regarding the documentary, Ivory Tower. We talked about some of our key takeaways from the film. Some of the topics that were shared were regarding the higher education cost bubble and how the exponential rise in tuition costs is unsustainable. We also discussed how the expectations of external and internal influences (e.g. employers, students, parents) are changing pertainng to the role of higher education institutions and the types of skills and competencies that should be cultivated once a student has completed his/her degree program. One of the points that I added to the discussion was regarding the rise of alternative higher learning methods implemented by both higher education institutions and third-party associations, including massive open online courses (more commonly known as MOOCs) and other free resources that are shared in effort to help individuals to "hack" their college education (Movieclips Film Festivals & Indie Films, 2014). I inquired to the panelists what higher education institutions will be doing to counter the efforts made by these start-up companies that are offering services and resources to essentially replace the need for college. The panelist who responded indicated that given that our society and its employers are looking for reputable, accredited higher education, that there is an existing hierarchy in place that would still given greater attention to individuals who received degrees from colleges and universities. Considerable time was also spent discussing whether we felt, as a result of watching the documentary, whether the cost of higher education was "worth it?"

The Shortcomings of the Higher Education Act

In our discussion forum later in the week, we talked about some of the shortcomings that exist even after the passing of the Higher Education Act (HEA) with regard to equity in higher education. One of the major obstacles that the HEA does not fully address is the challenge that low-income and first-generation students both experience when they attempt to navigate the system of federal and state financial aid (New America Foundation (2014). This is a need that is important to address, now that the overall responsibility of the costs of higher education has predominantly shifted from government to individual students (New America Foundation, 2014). Despite the fact that both subpopulations would benefit from need-based aid, the FAFSA can sometimes overwhelm or confuse students, according to Perna (New America Foundation, 2014). Some are intimidated, and subsequently do not bother completing the application and submitting it to determine what financial aid they may be eligible for, including scholarships and grants, which would not require the students to repay them - a particular benefit to those who do not have the savings to readily reimburse lenders for their loans. Thus, an important unmet need that HEA did not address is the implementation of knowledge-based programming to assist all students to differentiate between true financial aid and other predatory loans that are offered as financial aid, but lack the associated benefits of financial aid specifically designed for college students that incorporate grace periods, and sometimes offer subsidized interest while the student is at least enrolled part-time (New America Foundation, 2014). My personal experience as a prospective first-generation, low-income college student echos this stance, given that I ended up deferring my admission to my top-choice private institution for a year. And, after a year of working to develop savings toward my higher education, became disappointed with the limited impact they would have on just one year of attending college. Subsequently, I decided to postpone my higher education until I got to a point where I felt that I had the financial means and comfort in the knowledge of the financial aid system to be avoid insurmountable debt.

In addition, the HEA does not effectively contain the skyrocketing costs to address the affordability of college (New America Foundation, 2014).

Strategies to Improve Engagement for Low-Income Students

Some of the strategies that I learned about this week to increase engagement for low-income students included empowering low-income students by "offering opportunities for student agency in co-curricular and extracurricular activities on campus,...offering financial education [programming],...efforts to contain the institution's [operational] costs...[as well as] offering more institutional aid based upon needs-based criteria" (Kezar et al., 2015, p. 246-247). In addition, student affairs practitioners need to cultivate positive relationships with faculty to have an influence on academic curricula, which could include the development or refinement of first-year experience courses (Kezar et al., 2015). My institution has a required course for all first-year students known as Perspectives, in which students learn the essentials of how to successfully adjust to life as a college student and be equipped with the skills and resources needed to gain the most out of their college experience. These courses are taught by faculty as well as administrators, particularly those who serve as advisors.

Another strategy would be to enhance the "availability and appeal of [work-study options available through] student employment" (Kezar et al., 2015, p. 248). Implementing a cultural shift in which student work experience is perceived through the lens of valuable activities that enrich rather than hinder their learning experience could also be conducive to engaging low-income students in the classroom (Kezar et al., 2015). This can be done by offering credit for professional work experience and offering employment related experiences into academic programs (e.g. internship requirements) (Kezar et al., 2015). Instructors and adminstrators can have a hand in directly reducing the costs of textbooks, by offering expense waivers and/or schoarships to encourage students to order class materials from the college/university (Kezar et al., 2015).

References:

Encounter Books. (2012, June 27). The higher education bubble [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAwBN2Q8L14

Kezar, A. J., Walpole, M., & Perna, L. W. (2015). Engaging low-income students. In Student engagement in higher education: Theoretical perspectives and practical approaches for diverse populations (2nd ed.), pp. 237-255. New York: Routledge.

Long, B. T., & Riley, E. (2007, Spring). Financial aid: A broken bridge to college access? Harvard Educational Review 77(1), 39-63.

Movieclips Film Festivals & Indie Films. (2014, May 29). Ivory Tower Official Trailer 1 (2014) - Documentary HD [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-Fj5wivD8M

New America Foundation. [New America]. (2014, November 12). Will reauthorization save the Higher Education Act? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ser7C6Jt97c

Week 8: Engaging Community College Transfer Students

Challenges Faced by Transfer Students

During Week 8, I learned more about the defining experiences of transfer students in comparison to other new students at a college/university. Wood & Moore (2015) explained that while transfer and first-year students must both get acclimated with their new surroundings and adjust to life in their new community, transfer students may feel like an "outsider" given that the a campus community was already being formulated prior to their arrival; their peers would have already had the opportunity to start forming new relationships with others with common interests. Some transfer students have conveyed how their peers who started earlier at college has already solidified their social network of friends, which they are comfortable with. Wood et al. (2015) stated that students who initially started at the college/university may not be as open-minded to cultivating new friendships with others who join the campus community later. There also tend to be fewer opportunities for those in this subpopulation to connect with other transfer students, to create similar bonds based upon shared experiences, challenges, etc. Subsequently, those students who formulate fewer meaningful associations with their peers are more likely to experience loneliness or feeling estranged from other students on campus (Wood et al., 2015). And another setback that has been well-documented by researchers is the downward slope in transfer students' academic performance after initially transferring to a four-year institution (i.e. transfer shock) (Wood et al., 2015). Another major difference is that transfer students are more likely to work while attending college; as a result, they are trying to juggle both roles and responsibilities concurrently (Wood et al., 2015).

Supporting Transfer Students to Improve Persistence

Some of the strategies that were discussed during that week that have the potential to help transfer students include the development of orientation programming specifically for transfer students, that include content that provides steps that they can take to make a successful transition into studying at a four-year institution. The orientation program should address topics of valued by transfer students including information related to parking and transportation services on campus, childcare programs (if offered), the availability of academic supports (tutoring, advising, writing centers, etc.) (Wood et al., 2015). In addition, discussing opportunities to become actively engaged on campus through student organizations and work-study opportunities; this information has the potential to improve transfer student persistence rates (Drexel University, n.d.; Wood et al., 2015; University of Californina, Santa Barbara, 2016).

Fostering an Environment that Recognizes Value of Transfer Student Experiences

Some steps that can be implemented to create a social environment on campus that is conducive to improving the transfer student experience include executive leadership articulating in institutional values professional work experiences, life experiences, and a diverse student body; creating an academic policy that would permit students who have relevant work experience to earn credit towards their academic program; and creating student programming, that enables transfer students to connect with other students who previously studied at other institutions, as well as faculty and/or alumni who were successful transfer students to foster a strong informal support network (Drexel University, n.d.). These suggested practices would communicate through action to transfer students that they are important members of the campus community (Wood et al., 2015).

References:

Drexel University. (n.d.). Week 8 presentation [Lecture]. Retrieved from https://learn.dcollege.net/bbcswebdav/pid-5012880-dt-content-rid-25167487_1/xid-25167487_1

University of California, Santa Barbara. [UCSB4Me]. (2016, Aug 5). UCSB transfer student experience [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcmVuE_7n80

Wood, J. L., & Moore, C. S. (2015). Engaging community college transfer students. In Student engagement in higher education: Theoretical perspectives and practical approaches for diverse populations (2nd ed.), pp. 271-287. New York: Routledge.

Week 9: Engaging Commuter & Part-Time Students

Challenges Faced by Commuter & Part-Time Student

Both commuter and part-time students face similar challenges during their higher education learning experience that could impact their persistence. One of those challenges includes juggling multiple roles and responsibilities, as these students are more likely to hold a job outside of their college/university or being a parent and having family responsibilities (Jacoby & Garland, 2004). Another challenge is the lack of meaningful connections with other peers who are facing similar challenges (i.e. other commuter/part-time students); feeling a sense of belonging to one's institution is a key ingredient that helps students to persist towards the completion of their higher education goals (Jacoby, 2015; Schlossberg, 1989). Failure to establish that sense of belonging at their institution could lead to feeling marginalized, which is a risk factor to not finishing their academic goals at the given campus.

These students, by definition, are either non-residential students or students who are enrolled in less than the minimum number of credits needed to be classified as full-time (Jacoby, 2015). Sometimes, these students are non-traditional students (i.e. adult learners), who are either commuting or taking fewer classes at a given time to help them reduce the costs of attending college or to give themselves the flexibility that they need to fulfill the multiple roles they have including the role of a college student.

Creating a Learning Environment Conducive for Commuter & Part-Time Students to be Successful

Some of the ways that colleges and universities can help both subpopulations to have a successful learning experience include providing strong counseling and advising support services that employ a strengths-based approach, which allows students to actively direct their own steps given their expertise on their own personal goals, challenges, and coping strategies; providing a location on campus that is dedicated to both commuter students and part-time students, such as a student lounge, which can provide a location for them to store their personal items as well as connect with other peers that share similar experiences; offering high-impact learning experiences that will compel students in both groups to actively engage with their campus community and cohort outside of the classroom; and incorporating into the campus culture the recognition of students' work experience as complementary to their learning experience, rather than as a competing distraction (Jacoby, 2015; Schlossberg, 1989; Perna, n.d.).

Ackell's Stages of Institutional Integration

I also learned this week that Ackell recognized three different stages that institutions could belong to based upon their ability to integrate commuter and part-time students into their campus community (Jacoby, 2015). The initial stage is the "laissez faire" stage, which essentially only takes active steps to negate the noticable barriers of integrating all students (Jacoby, 2015). The next stage is the "separatist" stage, which is characterized by offering student programming that is intended to support most populations, which results in only some students having some inequalities (Jacoby, 2015). And lastly, the equity stage is the pinnacle categorization that would describe institutions who effectively integrate all student populations into their campus community; given that this stage is an ideal status, it is unlikely at this point in time for colleges and universities to truly achieve this level of institutional integration (Jacoby, 2015). In our discussion for the week, I was tasked with determining which of these stages would best describe my alma mater, which also happens to be Drexel University. I indicated within the past five year, I would have found Drexel to fit into the "separatist" stage, give that they have numerous opportunities for students from multiple backgrounds, including commuter and part-time students, to develop relationships with their faculty, administrators, and peers (including students who were enrolled in their online programs, such as myself). They also have offices dedicated to supporting various subpopulations, including the population that we discussed in depth this week.

Incorporating Cross-Cultural Experience into My Final Term of the MSHE Program

During the last few days of Week 9, I embarked on a cross-cultural experience in Puerto Rico along with approximately thirteen other colleagues. The first few days were spent in Ponce, Puerto Rico's second largest city on the southern (more arid) side of the island. We learned from an organic farmer how to plant yucca and sugar cane, and helped him to plant along his mountainous farm more of both crops, on what was formerly used for other leafy vegetables. We spoke with natives about living in Puerto Rico and started to challenge any preconceptions we had about life on the island; during the start of next week, we will get a glimpse inside their educational experience (both at the grade school and postsecondary level) as we visit a rural school for K-12 as well as a private university.

References:

Jacoby, B. (2015). Engaging low-income students. In Student engagement in higher education: Theoretical perspectives and practical approaches for diverse populations (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.

Jacoby, B., & Garland, J. (2004). Strategies for Enhancing Commuter Student Success. Journal of College Student Retention, 6(1), 61–79.

Perna, L. W. (n.d.). Understanding the working college student. American Association of University Professors. Retrieved from https://www.aaup.org/article/ understanding-working-college-student#.WH6rolMrLIU

Schlossberg, N.K. (1989). Marginality and Mattering: Key Issues in Building Community. New Directions for Student Services, 48, 5–15.

Week 10: Implementing strategies for educational success

Wrapping Up a Cross-Cultural Experience in Puerto Rico

At the start of Week 10, I was on my latter half of my study away experience in Puerto Rico with a diverse group of colleagues from Susquehanna University. We traveled to the Old City of San Juan, did some service learning activities in the impoverished community of La Perla, and visited local artisans in Loiza. While in La Perla, I worked with preschool children enrolled in their local Head Start program. I also had the privilege of visiting a private Catholic university campus, meeting with a professional in a similar capacity at their institution and having a discussion regarding their vision for the future of higher education and how it can impact Puerto Rico's economic growth. They based their academic programs and other student programming around the goals established by the United Nations (UN) in effort to prepare their alumni to address the needs identified by the UN. Overall, the experience I had taught me that there certainly were more similarities than I expected between the states (i.e. mainland) and the island. We share similar values and hopes for the future, which we strive actively towards through our higher education systems. They perceived higher education as responsible for preparing students to address the long-term needs of the world by teaching them to become global citizens, equipped with skills and competencies to resolve anticipated and current problems our communities face.

My colleagues represented a broad group of generational, racial, religious, sexual, socioeconomic and professional backgrounds. As a result, I felt that my learning experience was enriched by their various perspectives, skills, and knowledge. Collectively, we were able to make meaningful contributions to communities that we visited through a shared mission and collaboration.

Vision for Higher Education in Future in Changing Landscape

In our final lecture, we learned that the vision for the future of higher education is a rise in the number of nontraditional students, including adult learners, students from underrepresented minority groups (e.g. racial, ethnic, and religious minorities), online learners, and students attending for-profit institutions. As such, the needs of the students we serve will continue to diversify and there will be a greater need for administrators and faculty to possess intercultural awareness and sensitivity as well as an appreciation for the social environmental barriers that these students will encounter to achieve their personal education goals (Mmeje, Newman, Kramer II, & Pearson, 2009). It will be important to review our institutional policies and intiatives to determine where modifications may be warranted in effort to help support students from broader backgrounds, given that the needs of these minority and underserved populations will vary from the student majority that has historically been served at institutions of higher education, particularly at predominantly white institutions (PWIs). Our role will be to provide the support that enables all matriculating students to attain their "full potential...regardless of their [background] or ability" (Drexel University, n.d.). As we conclude this class, I look back on each of the student subpopulations that we explored in discussions, learning activities, and assignments, and feel more capable of recognizing the challenges that each of these student groups face. I also realized that my personal experience was not unlike other first generation students from a low socioeconomic background.

Projected Growth in Latina Student Populations and HSIs

With the growing number of Latino/a students attending postsecondary institutions, there has been an anticipated rise in the number of institutions classified as HSIs (Mmeje et al., 2009). It is important to consider this growing population within institutional mission and vision statements, along with institutional strategic planning and initiative development processes. One of the challenges this population faces is overcoming the negative stereotypes projected by our popular culture and media, such as those associated with being "lazy and hypersexual" (Mmeje et al., 2009). While the authors shared their insights regarding the hiring of positive Latino/a role models within institutions to countering these inaccurate preconceptions, I believe that colleges and universities should work on strengthening Latino/a students' informal support networks by offering programs that inform their families and peers of the expectations that they will need to meet as college scholars, perhaps in targeted orientations (Mmeje et al., 2009). Furthermore institutions should include the recognition of these students' supporters as they meet milestones toward reaching their academic goals.

References:

Drexel University. (n.d.). Week 10: Implementing strategies for educational success [Lecture]. Retrieved from https://learn.dcollege.net/bbcswebdav/pid-5012870-dt-content-rid-25166891_1/courses/21772.201625/Week%2010/ Week%2010%20Presentation/index.html

Mmeje, K.C., Newman, C. B., Kramer II, D. A., & Pearson, M.A. (2009). The changing landscape of higher education. In Harper, S. R. and Quaye, S. J. (Eds.). Student Engagement in Higher Education. New York: Routledge.

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