The summer session starts next week at many Oklahoma colleges and universities.
For many students, taking classes during the summer used to be a way to get ahead on their credit count or take classes that are interesting but not required.
But these days, lots of students are taking summer classes because that’s the only way they’ll graduate in four or even five years. Their major may require more hours than in decades past, or they may be behind after taking remedial courses, changing fields of study or dropping out of some classes.
In fact, when colleges analyze graduation rates, they look at six-year completion rates, not four. SIX YEARS is the new standard. Think about that, parents, when you are saving for college.
How long did it take you or your children to graduate, and why?
Special espresso … alliteration, anyone? SSSSS … sounds like the hiss of the steam coming from my overworked, under appreciated Krups espresso machine… .
Why am I on this literary bent? Glad you asked! I found LavAzza espresso on Amazon for substantially less than it would cost in a coffee shop. Thirty-two ounces of coffee and a copy of “Kite Runner” for $26.
I almost feel guilty, like I’m stealing the lira — wait, that’s Euro — that otherwise would feed some Italian coffee shop owner’s kid.
But when you gotta get your coffee fix and are tired of paying a certain chain’s prices and wanna stick it to The Man, you can overlook a lot.
If I need reminding how amazing the Internet — especially Amazon and eBay — is, I can think of buying sugar-infused Spanish coffee and Manchego cheese online, a saxophone, two iPods and three computers.
And a pair of shoes that turned out looking much too girly to keep. Well, there are risks.
Got a coffee preference? I may avoid talking about politics and religion, but I’ll argue about coffee with anyone. Bring it on!
Want to talk about online shopping? I may not be able to help change things, but I can commiserate.
The National School Safety Center has devised a checklist that could help schools and colleges identify students prone to violence.
Speakers at yesterday’s National Campus Safety Summit at UCO warned that just because someone has several of these traits (or all of them), they might never hurt others.
What do you think?
Here are a few of the characteristics on the list:
Has a history of tantrums and uncontrollable angry outbursts.
Characteristically resorts to name calling, cursing or abusive language.
Habitually makes violent threats when angry.
Has previously brought a weapon to school.
Has a background of serious disciplinary problems at school and in the community.
Has a background of drug, alcohol or other substance abuse or dependency.
Is on the fringe of their peer group with few or no close friends.
Is preoccupied with weapons, explosives or other incendiary devices.
Two Oklahoma students have been named Toyota Community Scholars — Jourdan Godwin of Fort Gibson and Austin Scott of Norman.
The two join 98 others as the 11th class of recipients of $1.12 million overall in scholarships from the automaker. Recipients were chosen from more than 8,000 students nationwide who were active in the classroom and in their communities.
“Based on the countless service projects conducted by the 2007 class, it is clear these 100 students view community service not as an obligation, but as a way of life,” the automaker said in a press release.
Projects included raising $25,000 to fight muscular dystrophy to promoting hydrogen fuel cells as an alternative to combustion engines.
“What these 100 high school seniors have accomplished in regard to community service and academics at such a young age is truly amazing,” Michael Rouse, Toyota manager of philanthropy and community affairs, said in the release.
Scholarships are worth either $10,000 or $20,000, over four years, for study at four-year colleges and universities.
Send me your school announcements and scholarship information. I’ll post them on this blog and possibly in The Oklahoman.
“We have dead kids. Where are the dead cops?”
That question was asked in the aftermath of the Columbine shooting, which was the worst school shooting spree until that last month at Virginia Tech.
Suzanne Mencer, a former FBI agent and now a policy analyst, lived near the high school and was a speaker today at the National Campus Security Summit at the University of Central Oklahoma.
She said the mistakes of Columbine have changed the way law enforcement responds to such events.
SWAT teams no longer wait to enter buildings with a shooter inside. A three-hour delay getting to one Columbine victim led him to bleed to death.
Police now are told to enter the building as soon as possible, risking their own lives to take down a killer.
That didn’t stop the tragedy at Virginia Tech. That shooter locked the doors from the inside, giving him enough time to kill 32 people before police gained entrance and he committed suicide.
Other speakers said a campus can never be 100 percent safe. Public universities are open and easily accessed.
But police do need extensive training — military-style, rifle-toting training, said one expert.
What do you think? Some campus departments are little more than unarmed security guards.
Will the massacre at Virginia Tech be the push needed to put more money into such departments, in the form of more training and more officers?
The Legislature last week passed a bill that will offer guaranteed tuition rates for college students.
It starts in Fall 2008 with first time freshmen. Those are the kids that will be high school seniors this fall.
But there’s a catch. While tuition rates won’t change for four years, they include a built-in rate increase of 5 to 9 percent. Basically, families that opt for the tuition freeze are gambling that tuition will rise 10 percent or more each year.
And many years in the past decade, it has risen into double digits.
But tuition hikes are the result of less-than-expected state funding to our colleges and universities.
State Regents asked for $170 million in new money for the upcoming fiscal year. They got less than half of that, and much of it was earmarked for special projects, leaving campuses short money for critical needs like higher utility bills and health insurance premiums.
If I was a betting woman, I’d say the average tuition increase for the next year will be close to 10 percent at many universities. But I’m not a gambler, and I’d certainly think carefully before signing up for the tuition guarantee program.
What do you think? Will you consider participating in the tuition guarantee program? Let me know.
For the fourth year in a row, Oklahoma City Public Schools has received a clean audit.
Accounting firm Cole & Reed issued the audit of financial statements, which covers the 2005-06 school year.
OKCPS increased its fund balance in 2005-06 to $10.6 million, reflecting the continued financial improvement of the district, according to a press release. Four years ago, the district’s balance was less than $7,000.
“I am very pleased with the progress the district has made the past four years. We have made major leaps in restoring the financial integrity of the district. This year’s audit findings validate once again the series of aggressive actions we took several years ago to rebuild our financial systems as well as substantially improve accounting practices and the management of funds. These were the right moves and they are continuing to pay dividends for our district and our taxpayers,” school board Chair Cliff Hudson said in the release.
Hudson complimented interim Superintendent Linda Brown and district financial head Scott Randall. Continuing, he said: “We are headed in the right direction on the financial front.”
Brown said a clean audit was every district’s goal.
“Financial accountability was a major tenet of the community report leading up to MAPS for Kids. We are ever cognizance of our responsibility to the community in this area. Each year we receive a ‘clean audit opinion’ we are one year closer to becoming a model urban school district,” she said.
Before the 2002-03 school year, the district had not received a clean audit from independent auditors for at least a decade.
The audit shows total revenues for the 2005-06 year at approximately $255 million. The $10.6 million fund balance equals 4.13 percent of the district’s budget. The district’s goal is to grow the fund balance to 4.5 percent of the budget or roughly $11.5 million.
The district operates 91 schools with more than 40,500 students.
In just a few hours, my holiday will begin.
My three-day holiday, that is, to honor Memorial Day.
Like most of the working class, I’ll be back at my desk on Tuesday.
But so will thousands of Oklahoma students, who traditionally end their school year by Memorial Day.
Blame it on Mother Nature because the students are making up snow days from a particularly yucky winter, at least in Oklahoma terms.
My step-daughter will return to her second grade classroom, where I can’t imagine they are going to get any serious work done. Aren’t the last few days just movie-watching and field trips?
Are you a teacher? Tell me what you’ll do to wrap up the school year, and if you think attendance rates will be down.
I took a course in golf/bowling when I was a community college freshmen. It met my PE requirement, but it had an inherent flaw. The golf part was scheduled for the dead of winter, so we practiced putting in the basketball gym. I can tell you with certainty that hardwood floors are NOTHING like the greens.
That experience, and my lack of any athletic skill, turned me off the sport. Now I wish I’d tried harder.
It seems that golfing is a real career booster.
The Professional Golfers Association is offering an eight-week course at OSU this fall titled “Golf: For Business and Life.” PGA Pro Pat Jenkins will teach the course, which “educates students, regardless of their chosen career, how they can use golf as a business tool as they enter the professional world.”
Local business leaders will even talk about how golf has enhanced their business.
I guess I can understand the link to the links. Say you’re the owner of a dry cleaners, and you are looking for investors in a new location. You take your well-financed friends for an afternoon round, and somewhere about the 8th hole, you mention that your business plan is a virtual hole-in-one. Then you smartly let them win, buy them a few more beers at the club house and close the deal.
Why limit this entrepreneurial trick to golf? What about other (more me-friendly) sports? Like kick ball. Or bowling. I did pretty well on the that part of the PE class — once I quit making divots in the lanes.
Has graduation become impersonal?
I got to wondering this after visiting the Cox Convention Center last week to cover the Academic All-State awards. For those of you who don’t have high school seniors in the family, the convention center is graduation central this time of year. Classes from city and metro schools rotate through every few hours. For me, at least, the thought of pomp and circumstance for 120 minutes or so, followed by a quick hustle out the door, reminds me of a shoestring wedding.
Enjoy the food. Sip the champagne. You’ve got 20 minutes to congratulate the bride and groom before the 10-minute photo shoot of the wedding party, then five minutes to blow bubbles outside the church.
Not that it’s anybody’s fault — the convention center is popular because it is first-rate and has sufficient space to accommodate large graduating classes. Conversely, most schools don’t have the space. Only one Oklahoma City high school graduates its students on campus.
Mammoth Broken Arrow Senior High School, where I attended, resembles a community college more than a high school. Still, it didn’t have anywhere near the room needed to graduate almost 1,000 people. We instead went to the Mabee Center at Oral Roberts University. If I remember correctly, the evening was very long and formed my expectation for high school commencements.
Also, schools’ zero-tolerance of graduation disruption makes for a blander time than perhaps is necessary. Would a beach ball really hurt anyone? Or harmlessly pretending to trip, a la Chevy Chase in a comedy skit, on stage?
I know schools need to maintain order, especially when students have little to lose because they know they’re getting their diplomas.
It just kind of makes me long a bit for a more laid-back time long before I graduated.
Any thoughts on this?