To thrive in college, become a scapper

In many colleges in the United States, almost half of first-year college students do not make it to graduation. Stop and think about this for a minute. Our current US higher education system is designed in such a way that it kills the dreams, hopes, and aspirations of almost 50% of the students who enter through its gates. As you meditate on this reality, let’s run a related thought experiment. What would you say about an airline company that designs and flies planes that kill 50% of it’s passenger? Would you buy a ticket from that company? Would you support letting that company maintain the status quo?

To me, when I think about how our current policy choices fail to support so many students, I see a need for major reforms. I want to avoid blaming students and faculty for this failure. While I believe each of us has a moral responsibility to challenge current policies and advocate for reform, I also realize that no individual shoulders the entire weight of the injustices that are baked into our current system. Instead, I believe we should learn to focus our collective energies on policy changes to better support our local communities in creating significant learning experiences in college and beyond. Such policy changes will require decades (if not centuries) of sustain activism at the grass-roots level.

In the meantime, if you are part of the current generation of college students, our community here at The Learning Code wants to help you develop and refine system-navigation skills so that you can thrive in an environment that is designed to weed you out. As part of this effort, I want to help you develop a scrapper’s mindset, which is exactly what we explore in this post.

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Get Paid to Learn: Advocate for Change

In the Get Paid to Learn series, I share ideas about how you can get paid to learn. In each post in this series, I explore strategies you can use to earn scholarships, internships, and get financial aid as you navigate your college experience. My hope is to help you minimize your college debt, alleviate your financial stress associated with paying for college, and stay focused on your learning. In my ten years as a student in higher education, I earned more than $300,000 of scholarships, internships, research fellowships, and financial support. During my last eight years as a full-time college professor, I have helped many students earn tens of thousands of dollars in scholarship money. Throughout this mentorship process, I’ve develop strategies you can use to get paid to learn. I plan to share these resources and ideas with you so that you can earn scholarship money. In this first post of our series, we explore one idea that underpins all this work on helping you earn scholarship money. That ideas is simple: in the richest nation in the world, you should not have to earn scholarships to pay for your education. Tuition should be free and we should subsidize your living costs while you work to finish your college degree. The Get Paid to Learn Series is designed as a stop-gap measure to help current generations of students while we work to advocate for larger system transformation for the future.

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