My Thoughts on Class Prejudice

Photo Credit: Charles DeLoye, Unsplash

I opened my email today to find the article below sent by our President & CEO of Ancora Education, Michael Zawisky (Ancora owns Miller-Motte where I adjunct.) The op-ed by Rep. Virginia Foxx appeared online December 31, 2018 as well as the print edition of the Wall Street Journal January 2, 2019.

Zawisky went on to say he hopes the op-ed would speak to each of us instructors and re-ignite the reason we work for Ancora, and “regardless of role or location, we too need to speak honestly about the educational paths people choose for themselves. Those paths should be embraced and supported. They should be meaningful and challenging. They should not define a person, they should elevate them.”

I have no doubt that both Zawisky and Foxx are passionate about students and their success. I just wish everyone in education would truly put it into practice and quit making money and numbers the #1 focus in our country. Teacher salaries decrease while tuition costs rise. Semester-long classes have given way to decreased classroom time, and we wonder why students fail and are ill-equipped for the marketplace. Perhaps failure/placement/retention rates in addition to class prejudice should be addressed.

STOP CALLING IT [THAT] – HOW WE SPEAK ABOUT EDUCATION REFLECTS CLASS PREJUDICE by Virginia Foxx

I know how it feels to be the only woman in a room of powerful men. I also know how it feels to be tuned out because of how I look or where I’m from. For these reasons I’m sympathetic to those who are passionate about changing culture for the better by promoting “inclusive” language. But the focus on inclusivity hasn’t extended to the way we talk about education.

Education has always been the key to opportunity in America, rightly called “the great equalizer.” But the sociologist Herbert Spencer once noted “how often misused words generate misleading thoughts.” By placing descriptors like “vocational” and “technical” in front of the word “education,” we generate misleading thoughts about the types of people who enroll in such programs.

Those who earn what people usually call vocational and technical degrees have long been viewed as inferior to those who graduate with a series of letters after their names. If you went to school to learn a trade, you must be lesser, because someone long ago decided that college should be called “higher” education. Considering the state of colleges and universities today, the word “higher” may be the most misleading of them all.

The way we speak about education is inherently classist. When a student of lesser means attends a traditional four-year school, we say she “overcame her circumstances.” When a student from a wealthy background chooses a trade school we say he didn’t “live up to expectations.” We are all but telling people that the trade jobs this country needs are dirty, and that skills-based education is for people without means or, much worse, without potential. We have perpetuated the idea that baccalaureate degrees and desk jobs are for middle-class and affluent people; community college and technical pursuits are for the poor.

I ended up with a series of abbreviations after my name because I wanted to teach. One of the few lessons that stuck with me from all the courses I took on the way to earning my Ed.D. came during a classroom discussion that sparked my passion for changing the way we talk about education. I’ll never forget how the professor responded to a student who used the word “training.” Training, the professor admonished, was for animals. Humans receive an education.

We can’t keep speaking of people as if they are animals. Whether an individual acquires a skill credential, a bachelor’s degree, a postgraduate degree or anything in between, it’s all education. We need to think about the words we use and why we use them if we are to break the stigma around all forms of education. If we don’t, we will never overcome the abiding sense of inequality and unfairness that so many Americans feel.

Individual potential transcends all demographics. It’s time that we speak honestly about the educational paths we set for Americans—and the paths they should be commended for choosing for themselves.

Talent Communities – The Future of Recruiting Millennials

No job postings. Talent community. Corporate insider. More human interaction. Google hangouts. Biweekly tweetchats. Relationship building. Interests and skills. Hire for attitude and personality. Matches. Connections. All these are buzz phrases you will likely hear more and more as the workforce landscape continues to morph and change in the 21st Century.

Information technology and recessions have allowed, encouraged, and in some cases, forced entrepreneurship, globalization, organizational restructuring, and a diversified workforce unlike anything we have ever seen in the past. More women are working, more dual-income families exist, and even post-retirement individuals are taking on jobs.

Enter Millennials. According to an article written by Joan Snyder Kuhl, this generation (aka generation Y) are 80 million strong in the U.S. alone. They are the most educated, the most diverse, and have different talents and needs than other generations. According to the Pew Research Center, “millennials will be roughly 50 percent of the U.S. workforce by 2020 and 75 percent of the global workforce by 2030.” What’s disturbing about these numbers is according to a 2011 Gallup survey the unemployment rate among this group remains at 30 percent.

Millennials

With Baby boomers aggressively retiring, employers will experience huge gaps of expertise and talent if they don’t start engaging millennials now. There are no other options – millennials are the future – no ifs, ands, or buts about it. If companies want to continue to be innovative and attract and keep future talent, now is the time to include millennials in their future business strategy. Your company’s culture, management style, and onboarding practices must appeal to them. Google and Apple are prime examples of companies who are already excelling at this. Zappos is not far behind and has stepped out of the proverbial job board box with their “No Job Postings” recruiting approach.

In June 2014, Dr. John Sullivan examined Zappos’ approach with his “Innovation or Craziness” article. While the article is lengthy, it does provide Zappos (and any other company looking to introduce a new approach to recruiting) some food for thought. The “potential problems” he discusses somewhat outweigh the “advantages,” so the approach will likely continue to be tweaked as they seek to build relationships and make talent connections.

1stGig is a company which takes the “No Job Postings” approach a step further. The online recruitment solution is a career matchmaking system for employers and college students. Today’s future graduates care about a company’s vibe and values, and companies want candidates who fit their culture and requirements. 1stGig separates early career building from job hunting by allowing students to begin networking well before graduation based on shared interests instead of current job openings. The concept is to build a talent pool of like-minded individuals from which to begin crafting roles for the future. The proprietary algorithm works 24/7/365, delivering a constant stream of potential talent based on career profile matches which are 100% pre-qualified and pre-screened.

1stGig allows employers to build talent communities that they (like Zappos) can engage with before a career opportunity is even on the table. Employers simply identify specific areas within the company that would benefit from having a pool of talent to reach out to and then create profiles of what is required for those areas. Once matches are made, employers can invite them into conversations via social media, on-site career days, etc. Having people who are engaged in conversations and who are familiar with employer brands is a great way to extend a career opportunity when the time is right. As these communities share their ideas, concerns, and questions, confidence and synergy is created. When it’s time to hire and onboard, employers already know people within the talent communities thus enabling them to choose the people who best fit their criteria. People who are willing to fully engage with an employer without any promise of a job are the ones who will likely stay for the long haul and fully contribute to the bottom line once an offer is extended.

Congratulations to those companies who are embracing the interests and needs of our up and coming young professionals. As you begin to make connections and build relationships with this group, you will discover creative ideas, innovation, entrepreneurial spirits, and a work ethic that wishes to connect and learn and discover and be recognized for their individuality. Embrace the changes. Make the connections. Discover the possibility of the future.

 

 

Surviving the Financial Challenges of College

In 2011, I decided to quit my full time job and return to college full time. Wow! What a transition! Switching from a 9-5 job to classes and stairs and students and teachers and homework was something I hadn’t done in nearly 20 years! 1 year later, I have earned my Associates Degree and have 16 months left to earn my Bachelors in Business Administration.

When I began the process of researching my educational options, I was a bit overwhelmed. Everything had changed. Instead of getting a hardback book, I could now opt for an e-book. Homework was completed online rather than the traditional hard copy. I could see my teachers on Facebook and personal lives began blending with school and professional lives. But I must admit, I didn’t miss standing in long lines anymore. I could do most everything online and everthing could be updated instantaneously. I could complete my financial aid profile online, order school books online, sign up for classes online – it was definitely up my alley as I am very tech driven when it comes to making our lives as simple as possible.

As I researched and talked to other students, I realized that most of the ones who were brand new to college had no idea of the ways they could save money. Most kids dutifully lined up at the college bookstore and signed $300-$400 of their financial aid checks over for each semester of books. What most didn’t realize is you could rent most of the books for 1/4 of what you pay at a bookstore. I was instantly peeved at the audaciousness of the bookstores to sell books for upwards of $150 to $200 each for some subjects and then provide a buy back for maybe 1/2 or 1/3 of that.

Nevermind these kids are borrowing student loans in excess of what they need, but between tuition, books, and living expenses – unless their rich daddy pays their way through school – what choice do they have? My parents are extremely good with money, but they’re not millionaires – so I had to come up with a plan.

Keep checking back to this blog. I’ll be discussing the best places to rent your textbooks, how to survive on a college student budget, and probably just my thoughts as I study my way to my Bachelors. At the very least, it should be interesting!