Tag Archive: Arizona State


“The best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores.”– Legendary Marquette Basketball Coach Al McGuire

What strategies can American colleges and universities employ to ensure that more freshmen do indeed become sophomores?

Consider the question this way: The late Intel President and CEO Andy Grove wrote about strategic inflection points in his 1996 best seller, “Only The Paranoid Survive.”

There are a few strategic inflection points in everyone’s life.

Get them right, and life may be a good thing as Martha would say.

Get them wrong, and life may end up simply running out the clock of life drinking PBRs in a dive bar.

What Almost DailyBrett is talking about are those poor souls who fall by the wayside may be directly attributable to the failure to make the transition from the freshman to sophomore year in college.

Based upon the experience of your professor author — more times than naught — is once a student takes time off after the frosh year to take a job, the overwhelming chances are the student never comes back to college.

Worse yet the student may have already incurred an educational loan, ending up with the double whammy of zero degree and crushing debt on the books.

Life is off to a miserable start, and it may only get worse.

Are these former students prepared for the demands of our service-oriented, digital, coding-dominated workforce? You know the answer.

Are they one “bad day” from being unemployed … yet again?

Forget about discretionary income to invest in stocks, bonds and mutual funds, these lowly sods are living pay check-to-pay check.

Sure there are examples of early college drop-outs – Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg – who become billionaires, but how many reach the Three-Comma-Club anyway?

Grooving With A High School Diploma

“If you think education is expensive; try the cost of ignorance.” – Former Harvard President Derek Bok

The numbers may be a tad outdated, but the story is still the same.

Pew Research reported in 2014 a startling gap between those who attain a BA/BS degree (let alone a master’s or Ph.D), and those with only a high school diploma.

The percentage of those with a bachelor’s degree in poverty three years ago was 5.8 percent; the percentage of those with a lowly high school diploma in poverty was 21.8 percent or more than one-in-five.

The college grad made on the average $45,500 per year; the high school diploma holder, $28,000 … a $17,500 per year delta. Multiply a $17,500 gap (which most likely will grow exponentially) by a 40-year career and the gulf reaches $700,000.

What does the $700,000 (at least) gulf mean?

This staggering number translates into the college graduate having discretionary income to invest in markets. Since the depth of the 2009 recession, the S&P 500 is up 270 percent. For 2017, the Dow Jones has increased 22.2 percent, the benchmark S&P has climbed 17.4 percent.

Many ponder, pontificate and bloviate about the growing economic separation between those who succeed in our interconnected, digital, service-oriented economy. Pew provides insights into the gap between those who graduate with a bachelor’s degree (about 29 percent of Americans) and those who don’t.

Colleges and universities are rightfully attuned to the percentage of entering freshmen, who graduate within the next five years.

Almost DailyBrett is asking a different question:

If many would-be sophomores are dropping out and co-signing themselves to a meager life (maybe even poverty), including one-bad-day-away from being unemployed, shouldn’t we be more concerned about freshmen retention?

Let’s review the U.S. News & World Report records for freshmen retention of four universities of particular interest to Almost DailyBrett:

  • University of Southern California, 96 percent freshman retention to sophomore year (BA degree in Broadcasting Journalism, 1978).
  • University of Oregon, 87 percent freshman retention rate (MA in Communications and Society, 2012).
  • Arizona State University, 86 percent freshman retention rate (Offered Ph.D Fellowship).
  • Central Washington University, 77 percent freshman retention rate (Presently employed as an Assistant Professor).

Some loss of frosh students because of plain, old life, and that is to be expected.

Losing 10 percent-to-20 percent or more of a freshman class should set off alarm bells.

Will these lost students be tomorrow’s poverty dwellers?

That may sound extreme, but then again it may not.

https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities/freshmen-least-most-likely-return

https://www.payscale.com/career-news/2014/07/fewer-freshman-college-students-returning-for-sophomore-year

http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2014/11/19/u_s_college_dropouts_rates_explained_in_4_charts.html

http://www.azquotes.com/quote/562419

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/02/17/running-out-the-clock/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/the-role-of-college-in-exacerbating-economic-inequality/

http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2014/02/11/the-rising-cost-of-not-going-to-college/

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/02/stocks-are-high-but-investor-numbers-are-low.html

https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/central-washington-university-3771

https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/asu-1081

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“I think if there’s anything CWU needs, it’s campus tradition, campus spirit and overall unity,” — Rob Lane, Vice President of Student Life and Facilities.

Predictably, there was some relatively quiet grumbling among the easily excitable faculty types and a few students. The status quo was being disturbed and at least for a moment inertia, because of change, was not reigning supreme.

Central Washington University just spent anywhere between $55,800 (low estimate) to $160,000 (high estimate) for a 9-foot long, 300-pound bronze statue of a ferocious Wildcat. And for what purpose, the critics huffed and puffed?DSC01528

This coming Saturday, June 13 is graduation on the Central Washington Campus. Close your eyes and just imagine tasselled graduating students in their caps and gowns having their photos taken in front of … The Wildcat statue? Yes, CWU now has a “location shot” as they call it in the television business.

Certainly, the Wildcat statue will never be confused with famous locations (i.e., Kremlin in Moscow, Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Big Ben in London, White House Portico in DC, Statue of Liberty in Gotham or the Golden Gate Bridge in Frisco), but it’s a start for Central Washington.

And maybe some of these proud parents of graduating students or alums remembering the best days of their lives will be tempted to write a check or two. And pretty soon those checks will start adding up. And wouldn’t these checks help CWU Development …err Advancement … in fundraising? And could this activity relieve some of the pressure on those who would raise tuition?

Sounds like a dynamic effect to the author of Almost DailyBrett.

Static Scoring vs. Dynamic Scoring

The whining and complaining by the static quo bunch in Ellensburg, Washington is similar to the fight back in the other Washington about static scoring and dynamic scoring. The real issue is whether the federal behemoth should give back any tax dollars to the dwindling number of taxpayers, who are actually still contributing to the government.

Using static scoring, the methodology of choice for anyone trying to stop anything and everything, one could accurately conclude that each dollar used for the Wildcat statue (or substitute any other out-of-elite-favor activity) is one less dollar for some other noble deed for the deemed public good.

Using dynamic scoring, the methodology of choice for anyone wanting to stimulate economic activity and entrepreneurship, each activity triggers responses. Reminds one of Newton’s First Law of Motion about a body in motion remaining in motion.TommyT

Thinking about these examples, one marvels how many stop to have their pictures taken in front of Tommy Trojan on the USC campus before making the trek over to the Los Angeles Mausoleum for a football game. How many Trojan alums are wiping a tear or two out of their eyes when they see “Tommy T” and they hear Dr. Arthur C. Bartner’s “Spirit of Troy” band play “Fight On!” Time to write a check?

Even though Penn State has been through the college football definition of hell with the Jerry Sandusky scandal, the firing/passing of Joe Paterno, and the crippling NCAA sanctions, there are literally thousands of Penn State alums who still stop and have their picture taken with “The Nittany Lion.”nittanylion

During a recent visit to the Valley of the Sun, the author of Almost DailyBrett took the time to have his picture taken with the bronze likeness of Frank Kush, ASU’s feared and very successful football coach.

You may be tempted to think that CWU will never enjoy the athletic prowess of USC, Penn State or ASU, and considering the disparity in the size of the athletic budgets of the former with the three aforementioned Big 5 Conference members, you most likely will be right.

But also weigh that San Jose State also built a statue focusing on its lone athletic achievement: John Carlos and Tommie Smith, winning Gold and Bronze respectively, at the Mexico City Olympic Games in 1968.JohnCarlosTommieSmith

For some reason, one suspects there was not too much faculty grumbling at SJSU about the building of the Carlos/Smith statue.

Maybe there is a glimmer of hope for dynamic scoring after all.

http://www.cwu.edu/bronze-wildcat-statue-installed-campus

http://cwuobserver.com/3651/news/student-government-planning-wildcat-statue/

http://www.dailyrecordnews.com/members/bronze-sculpture-of-a-wildcat-installed-in-front-of-the/article_db09890c-0945-11e5-aa2f-2b7c38bae26a.html

http://www.freedomworks.org/content/static-versus-dynamic-scoring

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamic_scoring

 

 

The recession of a lifetime followed by the gradual, mostly jobless recovery has been particularly brutal on follicly challenged senior PR professionals, some who even remember JFK’s assassination being announced on school loud speakers and the Beatles on the “Ed Sullivan” show.

Please don’t ask, “Ed, who?”

The crippling downturn that prompted corporate and agency chieftains to cut back on SG&A expenses in the face of declining top lines and deteriorating bottom lines, prompted many displaced high-priced communicators to put out their own shingle.

And yes, there is a certain glamour associated with being your own boss, setting your own hours and commuting from the master suite to your home office or the local upscale coffee parlor with a laptop under your arm. And with it has come a directly related cottage industry of IT professionals charging three-figures per hour to keep home laptops, monitors and docking stations humming along.

There is also the nagging reality associated with incorporating the business, indemnifying the business, finding the business, servicing the business, invoicing the business and nagging the business to pay you…followed by quarterly payments to the IRS.

LinkedIn.com http://www.linkedin.com is loaded with oodles of individual practitioners with impressive corporate sounding names and LLPs, but how many will actually survive? How will they compete against each other, internal communications departments, boutique PR agencies, let alone the big multi-nationals such as Weber Shandwick, Fleishman Hillard, Edelman, Burson-Marsteller and Hill & Knowlton?

The answer is that some will ultimately thrive in an improving economy, but most will struggle to simply pay ze mortgage. This brings up another question: Is there another way of turning adversity into opportunity?

Two weeks ago, I took the GRE…the dreaded Graduate Records Examination http://www.ets.org/gre/. Why would I put myself through weeks of masochistic prep work to endure 3.5 hours of essays, critical readings and verbal/math multiple-guess questions? The answer is there is another way of setting your own course than starting your own business.

Personally, I am contemplating mentoring the next generations of strategic communicators. At least four of my colleagues are now teaching at USC, Santa Clara, Arizona State and Michigan State respectively. Why can’t I do the same?

One of them chose academics in part because as the political editor of a major metropolitan daily he grew weary of “having to layoff my friends.”

My PR career has spanned 28 years, including service in the public sector, two trade associations, one publicly traded technology company and an international public relations agency. The purpose of this recital is not to boast but to ask a vital question: What am I accomplishing if I extend this track record to 30 years? Or 32 years? Or even 40 years?

I have been accepted to both the University of Oregon Graduate School and the Graduate School of the UO School of Journalism and Communication http://www.jcomm.uoregon.edu/. A huge decision faces me around May 1 and that involves picking up stakes and moving my lounge act from Northern California to Eugene, Oregon in time for the first classes on September 27. The goal is to receive a master’s degree in “Communication and Society” and eventually to serve as an associate professor/instructor in strategic communications.

Certainly, I have been repeatedly warned about the corresponding loss of income and academic politics; how they eat their own (e.g. you can’t teach at the school in which you received your master’s degree). After years of state government and corporate backroom wheeling and dealing, a little academic politics sounds like more of the same just in a different locale.

We have all heard the homage that “Those who can’t, teach.” To those who want to attach that moniker to me, I simply say, “Bring it on.” More importantly, can senior communicators apply our energies, knowledge and experience to helping the next generations of strategic communicators in this rapidly changing digital age? And how many more would like to join me in this (hopefully) noble quest?

We may look back years from now and realize that the economic downturn (being charitable here) was just the kick in the-you-know-where that many of us needed. It may prompt us to do what we want to do rather than what someone else wants us to do.

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