TVP Communications Week in Review

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Labor Day weekend is officially here! The start of what I affectionately call “The Ber Months” is always one of my favorite holidays. I love looking ahead to cooler weather, changing leaves and all of that good stuff.


Fall is also a busy time in the world of higher education. Having started with TVP Communications two months ago, I am looking forward to it.


Before we jump into September, however, let’s look back at what happened during the last week in August.


What’s new this week:



  • Craig Owens, associate professor of English at Drake University, had a great column in the Des Moines Register about college move-in day and the value of a residential college experience.


What we’ve been talking about:


  • TVP Communications’ Teresa Valerio Parrot and Erin Hennessy co-moderated a lively #CASESMC social media chat, “Integrating Social Media Into Crisis Planning,” on Tuesday. Check out CASE’s recap if you missed it, and be sure to read Erin’s follow-up post on the major themes from the discussion.


  • Kyle Gunnels discussed his passion for internationalization in higher education and linked to some fantastic resources on the subject.


  • The start of a new academic year made Teresa Valerio Parrot feel a little nostalgic, so she celebrated Throwback Thursday (#TBT) by posting some college pics of the TVP Communications team with thanks to all of our alma maters. The resulting conversation was interesting, to say the least.



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Are you following the TVP Communications team on Twitter? Here’s a look at what we were talking about this week:






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College Colors Day Comes to TVP Communications and a Challenge Is Issued

Today is college colors day and after yesterday’s Throwback Thursday fun, I asked the team for an additional photo contribution. As always, the team delivered– this time by boldly wearing their collegiate love on their sleeves. Below are our modern day tributes to our alma maters (we’re looking at you Drew University, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Alabama, College of the Holy Cross, West Virginia University and Stonehill College).


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But, there is something even greater on the line within the TVP Communications family. And that something is pride. On Saturday, the Crimson Tide is going to play the Mountaineers in an epic battle in Atlanta, with our own Brian and Kyle cheering on their respective undergraduate institutions.


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With this blog entry I’m issuing a challenge. I’ll send a $25 Starbucks gift card to the person who guesses the winner and most closely predicts the final score. This contest is open to all readers of our blog. You MUST submit your guess in the comments section below.


Kyle and Brian, you get first guesses. Game ON!


(Fine print– All guesses must be posted in the comments section below and all predictions must be received prior to game kick off. First person to post a winner/score prediction will be given credit for that combination. Final decision of winner will be made by me. If I need a second opinion, I’ll rope in Erin. There is no challenge to my decision– because I said so! By submitting a winner/score combination you agree to these rules.)

Remembering Our College Years and Thanking Our Alma Maters

Our team has enjoyed the back-to-school social media posts and pictures over the past week or two– especially me. After I uttered my millionth “awww…” I decided to mandate an official walk down memory lane for our team. In honor of Throwback Thursday, I’m pleased to share pictures of our collegiate heydays.


Our photographs span the entire four-year experience and include some of the best co-curricular memories college has to offer. I love that Kristine’s picture is in her dorm room, Ali is sharing her collegiate spirit, my picture is from a Year One volunteer day, Brian’s is his student ID, Erin’s photo shows her beaming on graduation day and nobody can deny Kyle’s Bama love in his picture.


The beginning of a new academic year seems like the perfect moment to thank our alma maters for amazing opportunities, great friends and wonderful memories. University of Colorado at Boulder, Drew University, West Virginia University, Stonehill College, University of Alabama and College of the Holy Cross– thank you.


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Brians Student ID
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And, because I’m mean, I couldn’t help sharing this extra picture of Mr. Wachur in his fine cowboy hat. It’s a a little somethin’ somethin’ for my fellow Buffs fans ;). And if you ever get a chance, ask him about this moment. It’s a story well worth your time.


Brian Postgame

Gettin Global with It: Internationalization and Higher Education

Every year I try to attend a conference for my own professional development and to expand my knowledge on a subject about which I am personally passionate. Earlier this year, I attended the Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA) annual conference in Washington, DC, which featured a number of fantastic speakers on topics spanning the entire spectrum of international education, including curriculum design, study abroad programs, international research partnerships and more.


Lately, I’ve been thinking more and more about internationalization in higher education and the conversations I had while at AIEA. Why? Part of it has to do with a nostalgia kick related to my own experience studying abroad for a year at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. I can say without a doubt that my time spent in college overseas was most profoundly impacted by the opportunities I had to learn from my fellow students from countries all over the world.


Two of the key themes across sessions at AIEA supported what I deemed to be the main components of my experience—internationalization does not simply mean westernization, and that cross-cultural learning is (or should be) key to all international education efforts. Further, one of the conference’s speakers, Jennifer Robertson from Valencia College, pointed out “internationalizing the curriculum doesn’t mean just slapping the word ‘global’ on it.”


I’m sure we’re all tired of hearing the idiom “we’re living in an ever-growing, interconnected world,” or some variation of it; however, it’s true—and it’s refreshing to see some countries place an emphasis on ensuring students partake in international opportunities. For example, one of Europe 2020’s educational goals is to ensure that “at least 20% of higher education graduates and 6% of 18-34 year-olds with an initial vocational qualification should have spent some time studying or training abroad.”


And while the U.S. does not place a similar concentrated effort on internationalization, this piece from NerdScholar summarizes recent figures showing that “the number of U.S. students studying overseas has roughly tripled in the past two decades.”


With this in mind, it should be the goal of everyone in the higher education community to place an emphasis on expanding international opportunities and ensuring that our institutions value internationalization. Here are some fantastic international education resources to peruse:


Additionally, to stay on top of different stories and trends in international higher education, I suggest paying attention to the following new sites—each of which has a newsletter for which you can sign up.


So what about you—do you have a personal international experience that stood out as part of your education? Is your institution doing anything particular to make internationalization a priority?

When Fear Prevents Students From Dreaming Big

Earlier this week Kristine Maloney and I had the privilege of spending time with a husband and wife team who are major benefactors for a liberal arts institution of distinction. We talked through a number of higher education issues and I asked how they would describe the benefits of a liberal arts education to parents of prospective students.


Over the course of our meal we hit upon the highlights of the most common defenses of a traditional, residential, private collegiate experience, but then our octogenarian dinner companion stopped me dead in my tracks. He said he thinks stressing the practical application of a college degree is necessary, but he suggested we all step back and look for additional perspective. He stated, “parents’ fears for their children’s future employability is stifling their children’s ability to dream big.”


Wow. That one sentence has given me pause for the past two days, because I think he is correct.


A survey by the Princeton Review earlier this year of 14,150 people (10,116 college applicants and 4,034 parents of applicants)  provides some perspective. Over half of students and parents are viewing the biggest benefit of a degree quite differently than those of us in higher education:

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And the concern about employability relates to a much deeper seeded fear. The majority of parents and students surveyed (73% and 79%, respectively) said the state of the economy has affected their decisions about applying to or attending college.

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I mention this survey and these statistics because they run counter to the way in which a college degree was presented to many of us in higher education and probably to some of the surveyed parents. 53 percent of parents are telling their children that the benefit of college is something other than an education and exposure to new ideas. Yup, read that again—the majority of parents believe the greatest benefit of a college education isn’t exposure to new ideas, experiences and perspectives, but is instead the path a degree creates towards a better job and higher income. And, 73 percent of parents and 79 percent of students are questioning if that path actually pays off in today’s economy.


It is vitally important that we review how we talk about our institutions and the way in which we defend the academy. Far too many campus communicators are still focused on reinforcing the benefits of an education and exposure to new ideas, but unfortunately, these arguments aren’t hitting what parents and students want to hear.


So how do we return parents and students to appreciating the academic and co-curricular experiences we do provide?


I think our dinner companions had the ultimate insight.


We have to allow our children to dream big and reinforce that failing is okay if it leads you towards a fulfilling career and life. What we stress shouldn’t just focus on money—it must include contentment. Our discussion included talk of starting businesses, taking risks and finding what makes you happy. And as I sat there listening to this lovely couple talk about achieving business and personal successes, making a difference in the lives of others, and loving each other and their alma mater, I was reminded that their love of life is what I want for my child.


And so, this mom is making a pledge to keep my fears for the future to myself and allow my child to dream big. My parents gave me that privilege and it has served me well. She deserves the same opportunity.

In a Bind: Rising Costs of College Books

Fellow word lovers, I promise this is the only time you’ll ever witness me bashing books. Now, imagine this being said by Jerry Seinfeld: What’s the deal with college books? I saw a graphic on from the American Enterprise Institute’s Mark Perry that made my stomach churn.
Seriously, what is the deal? This is gross. College already is already expensive, and the cost of books is increasing at a greater rate than tuition! The worst part is that it hits hardest with students who are already fighting an uphill battle against obstacles and statistics. Low-income students get the shortest end of the stick here.


When I was a college counselor, coming up with money for books was problematic for my low-income students. I had several students enrolled in courses they loved (or were required by their major) who dropped, withdrew from, or even failed the courses because they couldn’t access the necessary texts to participate in the class. Many of these students had used up their summer job money to help out at home or to pay their tuition balance or to purchase dorm necessities like twin XL sheets and toiletries, and so books often took a back seat.


It was beyond frustrating to find out in October that a student of mine wasn’t passing in biology homework because he didn’t have the lab workbook, or that she was failing philosophy because there were reading quizzes every class and she didn’t have any of the books. They were paying (or taking out loans to pay) for these classes that they weren’t successful in because they couldn’t pay for the books. And I would list out all of the resources I could think of, but it was usually too late. GAH!


Here are a few resources to help cut book money costs—and please tweet at me (@alilincolntvp) with any more money-saving ideas for buying college books.


Online bookstores: As soon as a syllabus or booklist is available, students should be scouring the internet to find good deals. Amazon, Half, Better World Books, Chegg, AbeBooks, and SlugBooks.


Textbook and e-book rentals: Many school bookstores and some websites offer the option to rent textbooks for the whole semester. Still kind of a racket, but not a bad option for knocking out basic courses.


School library (and reserve): Most schools stock the books that professors put on the syllabus in their own libraries. Even better, some professors put multiple copies of required text on reserve for students in their courses. Though the books can’t leave the library, students can access them for free.


Book Swaps: Students can check on school Facebook groups, Craigslist (or a school-specific Craigslist if one exists) to see if anyone has books from a previous semester up for grabs for free, cash, or swap.


Public libraries: Want to know something awesome about being an English major (or somewhere in the humanities)? Novels, poetry books, memoirs, biographies, etc. are readily available at public libraries. And with the power of the inter-library loan, even more titles can be accessible.


Book-specific scholarships: College communities and local communities sometimes have smaller (read: under $500) scholarships specifically for books, so students should do research before heading to campus. Groups that offer book money include community foundations, Rotary clubs, Elks or Lions clubs, church groups, Scout Troops, TRiO programs, and alumni groups.


Schools or community programs: Some departments and programs within schools don’t publicize money or books they have available to students in need. Students in programs like Upward Bound, peer mentoring, etc. should inquire within the school for options.


Faculty: Professors might have extra copies of books they can lend to students. It can’t hurt to ask; the worst response will be “no.” At some (usually smaller) schools, students can appeal with the financial aid department or with their class dean, but those are long shots.


And to avoid ending on a sour grapes book note, enjoy this very important bookish lexicon.