Accessible Programs for College Students

A passion I have found working in college student affairs is college access and success, which is a lineal process from K-12 through postsecondary graduation. I believe much of this is contributed to my background as a high school mathematics teacher, because it ties it directly with my current field. It also is a social justice and systemic issue I feel impassioned to advocate for, especially considering that the teacher education students I work with can have a direct and positive influence on this issue in their future classrooms.

Student success is what I have more influence over than access, and thus influences much of what I do. A student who faces obstacles applying to college is probably going to face them while attending college as well. An easy example to consider is finances. Financial insecurity can impact a student’s engagement, their access to resources and experiences on campus, and even their performance. This means that access is still an issue to consider…do my students all have access to opportunity?

Considering Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, what student is going to choose a study abroad opportunity (even if it is short-lived) over a week of meals?

The Sobania text shares with us the lack of diversity  of students who participate in study abroad, which I felt cognizant of but was still shocked at the statistics. It was mentioned that in the 2014 Open Door survey that the majority of these students are female, white, and in social sciences or humanities program of study. Education majors represented a mere 4%.

Sobania mentions the multicultural diversity in the United States and how few students understand or are well acquainted with it. If our experiential learning opportunities are  occurring with homogeneous groups, I believe this might be influencing this. It might be negatively affecting how these experiences impact students in confronting their beliefs, assumptions, or stereotypes.

As highlighted in our discussion today, I believe students can experience the same impact of study abroad in an intentional study away. I think this addresses a local and global issue of access to opportunity. Careful consideration to have an accessible program can lead to a more diverse group of participant, which can have a great impact on those students.

Reflecting on today’s discussion and our tour of Harlem, I am considering a study away experience that has education students look in depth at communities. When we originally began brainstorming on this project, I thought it would be impactful enough to visit schools…but I don’t think that is enough! Future teachers should be aware of how communities are created and sustained since they can have a larger impact if they truly understand their student’s community and can even challenge them to even think beyond it . Our discussion of having students reflect on their own culture and identity before engaging in others really got me thinking about creating an experience that has the students not just learn the schools but also the neighborhood they are in.

Sources:

Sobania, N. W. (2015). Putting the Local in Global Education: Models for Transformative Learning Through Domestic off-Campus Programs Weinberg, Adam. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, Inc.

 

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Megan Kasper

Megan attended Appalachian State University for both her undergraduate degree in Mathematics, Secondary Education and her master's degree in College Student Development. Having previously worked in high schools and college orientation, Megan loves combining these experiences to work with college students who are starting their teaching career. Megan volunteers her time working with Camp Twitch and Shout, a week-long summer camp for children with a diagnosis of Tourette Syndrome. When she isn't rereading Harry Potter or Jane Austen novels, she enjoys cooking new recipies with her husband, traveling with her friends and twin sister, and loving on her furry friends, Bailey and Gus!

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