Now he's serving as a mentor to Russell, whose rural background brings with it struggles that only a tiny handful of universities, including this one, are beginning to acknowledge and address. Taylor says neither student can "call home and say, 'Mom, how do I navigate the college experience? Many colleges and universities were caught by surprise when frustration among rural Americans spilled over into national politics during the election.
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That, in addition to steady declines in enrollment, has pushed some schools to pay more attention to rural students — and to recognize that these students need at least as much help navigating the college experience as low-income, first-generation racial and ethnic minorities from inner cities.
Rural students graduate from high school at higher rates than urban students — and at about the same levels as their suburban counterparts. But only 59 percent then go straight to college, compared with 62 percent of urban and 67 percent of suburban high school graduates, according to the National Student Clearinghouse , which tracks this. And once they get to college, they're more likely to drop out.
The University of Georgia is among a handful of four-year universities and colleges that provide financial and academic support to rural students along the same lines as what many offer urban ones. And most of these initiatives are recent. The University of North Carolina system plans to increase rural enrollment by 11 percent by , and several Pennsylvania universities and colleges have started scholarships for students from rural Schuylkill County, a onetime coal-producing area.
The University of Michigan has begun extending the same kinds of financial and academic support to more and more rural students. Its Kessler Presidential Scholarship Program previously served mostly first-generation students from nearby Detroit and other cities; when the program started 10 years ago, that's where nine out of 10 of the participants came from. Now, nearly a third of this year's 36 new Kessler Scholars are from rural places. Alexandra Rammacher finished high school with a graduating class of in rural Charlotte, Mich.
Her first impression of the 46,student Ann Arbor campus : "There were so many people! She just wasn't used to it. It was just a huge there-are-people-in-the-world revelation. Russell, the freshman from Louisiana, says his rocky start was academic. He had excelled at his small rural high school, but he failed his first college quiz while classmates from more privileged backgrounds sailed through. It was scary. It's not because I didn't know it, I just wasn't used to the way Michigan runs math.
Setbacks like that perpetuate some of the many stereotypes that rural students say they face in college. He says the people he has met in college "always seem to think that I'm Republican. And poor. And a farmer. Ten percent come from families in the top 1 percent of earners, and only 16 percent from the bottom 60 percent. Those Canada Goose jackets?
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It's a reminder that some students have families with the resources to help them overcome the complexities of college, while others don't. Beaudoin is the daughter of a single mother, and she helped raise her four younger siblings. Back home, she didn't know a lot of people with a bachelor's degree; fewer than 1 in 5 rural adults aged 25 and older have them, according to the U.
Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service. At Michigan, Beaudoin is majoring in biopsychology, cognition and neural science and has co-founded a club for first-generation students to give one another moral support and advice. Going to office hours is terrifying," she says. Other obstacles are more mundane. Take crosswalks. She stops and waits for the light to change while other pedestrians brush past her. When her phone broke, leaving her without one for several months, she used a paper map to find her way around campus.
She still has trouble figuring out the bus system.
Yet, as someone from a rural place where self-sufficiency is valued, "The idea of going to someone and asking how this works Universities have been slow to recognize these hurdles. But such savings are a pittance in the grand scheme of things. Support staff are often poorly paid and the financial savings of eliminating a few secretaries or administrative assistants would hardly solve the budget deficits that many universities face.
Additionally troubling is the administrative assertion that there is a kind of intellectual inefficiency that results from departments being disciplinarily distinct. All well and good. And I fully support this kind of work. And guess what? The effectiveness of the open office plan has been largely disproved by several recent studies. While consolidating departments does not include moving to a different configuration of actual workspaces, it does operate on the unproven assertion that the thing holding back interdisciplinary work is the self-containment of academic departments.
In fact, interdisciplinary research is stifled not by departmental singularity, but a host of other structural impediments that are practically written into the DNA of academe. This may create or reinforce disincentives for researchers to engage in interdisciplinary research. When journal rankings are used to help determine the allocation of prestige and resources for faculty, it can hinder interdisciplinary research. However, women also perceived greater institutional constraints.
The insidious effect of these false narratives about financial and intellectual inefficiency is to shift the blame to the academic side of the house. Being flexible and responsive with curriculum might allow us to create opportunities for student-designed majors and other programs that blur disciplinary distinctions, and perhaps would attract students, but such efforts are not going to solve the multi-million dollar budget crises proliferating across college campuses.
The best way to retain and graduate students thereby ensuring the financial health of the university , in fact, is to invest in faculty and student support services. And despite these narratives shifting budgetary blame to academic departments, such reform programs are typically enacted with little if any consultation with the faculty in those very departments. Some faculty at Southern Illinois are rightly arguing that collapsing departments into larger units has curricular and other implications that fall within the domain of shared governance.
This, however, will be hard work. Departments can undoubtedly and demonstrably behave in unproductively silo-ed ways and shifting that culture will be no small feat. But forcing such decisions will only destroy faculty morale, which in turn will yield little or none of the results that chancellors and others claim to be so desirable. I love the start of a new school year. But neither did my fretting, fear of falling behind, or general anxiety about missing so much work. So I went back to the office the following week. And lasted about four hours. And then later that week I put in a twelve-hour day.
Which turned out to be a very bad idea. I spent the next three days recovering from that decision. Reflecting on the experience of those two weeks, I have realized that I let my desire to be a superwoman outweigh common sense. While I do not think that women exclusively fall prey to the temptation to be superheroes in these situations, I want to address this post to women in the academy and point out why this behavior and the temptation towards superwoman-hood does us a disservice.
Senior superwomen: I suspect that we build this tendency towards superwomanhood when we are junior or contingent faculty, trying to be the best and most dedicated colleagues possible. But what dismays me is that this behavior continues even later in our careers. I was out once for drinks with a group of female colleagues who all held administrative positions at my university.
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It is telling that even senior women who are tenured and secure engage in this behavior. We are still trying to prove ourselves in a culture that whether explicitly or implicitly has not fully welcomed us. Some places are better than others, but overall, women in the academy as reflected in service obligations , teaching evaluations , pay scale , or any host of other metrics still fight an uphill battle for acceptance.
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So whether consciously or unconsciously we continue to try to prove ourselves and our worth and our right to be here. That said, I try not to play along with my colleagues. Whenever possible, I leave work at 5.
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Weekends are for non-work activities. Now certainly there are exceptions to this. Big projects or the inconvenient overlap of multiple deadlines sometimes means I stay late or work on the weekends. Sometimes my role as dean comes with evening and weekend responsibilities. But generally speaking, making overwork and the dissolution of work-life boundaries a competitive sport is not productive. Modeling and normalizing: What message are we sending to our female colleagues when we try to be superwomen who prove their dedication and their talent through overwork? We are perpetuating the cycle and a culture that asks women to rise to the standard of superwomen at a possible expense to their health and well-being.
As I repeatedly argue on this blog, those of us in a secure position of power have an obligation to do the work to gradually shift the culture of academe. So I would ask you: what example do you set for the women in your office or department? If you are an administrator what policies do you lobby for at your institution?
Sometimes, for example, our jobs require us to work nights and weekends. Work four hours on Saturday at a recruitment event? The duties of the job require it.
We need to stand up for and beside our female colleagues when they make choices like these. Talk about it: Wherever and whenever possible, we need to highlight this issue. Despite an enthusiastic response for addressing this issue, I have never had a conversation about this with anyone on my campus. That needs to change. Again, those of us in secure positions need to take some risks and bring this up with the senior administration at our universities.
We need to forcefully and vocally advocate for female colleagues who we see trying to take care of themselves while still fulfilling their responsibilities. We need to intervene when we see someone falling prey to the Superwoman Syndrome. This last one, I think, is particularly tricky; we tend to praise, and even reward, superwomen, not caution them. We will probably be accused of whining or shirking. And I am the first to acknowledge that institutional structures and cultures do not always support our ability to take care of ourselves and have fulfilling lives beyond our workdays.
But until those of us who are senior and reasonably well-protected begin modeling better behavior and advocating for ourselves and our female colleagues nothing will change. We will be very unhappy superwomen. A week or so ago I published a piece in Inside Higher Ed about bridging the divide in higher education that too-often separates the administration from the faculty. It prompted some lively discussion.
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I appreciate those of you who engaged with my argument and offer the following as things I learned from your feedback. You are absolutely right.
And such a description is part of the problem. I will think and write differently about that as a consequence—thank you! The responses to my piece would suggest that among faculty the word conjures up images of overpaid and ineffective presidents, vice presidents, deans and others in the upper echelons of administration.
My own definition is a bit more all-encompassing and includes individuals who occupy more modest, but nonetheless administrative, roles at the university—associate deans, directors, and department chairs, for example. It is often these folks that I think of though not exclusively when I think of talented, dedicated colleagues who are not deserving of faculty antipathy.
Both of these individuals are outliers. They are not the sole face of either the administration or the faculty. Now, I will acknowledge that my analogy breaks down in the face of the power differential that often separates administrators from faculty.
But as many of you pointed out, there are often structures that mitigate against that. On campuses without a strong tradition and culture of faculty governance it may be virtually impossible to work with the administration. Both Yaji and Kita have extraordinary hand-to-hand fighting skills, which they actually work on improving. Yaji's family runs a dojo and Kita's father is a police captain. The manga began serialization in in Bonita magazine and then in was transferred to Mystery Bonita magazine, both published by Akita Shoten.
Tales of Yajikita College.