Thursday, November 11, 2010

Escape Velocity & the Harlem Zone

In the chapter 9 of Whatever It Takes, Paul Tough describes a metaphor that Geoffrey Canada had adopted for the work he and his Harlem Zone colleagues were doing. For Canada, there was the question of "escape velocity;" how much momentum it takes for young people in dire circumstances to pull against the gravitational pull holding them back in order to reach another orbit.

In other words, Canada felt that it was a question of how much momentum black children living in Harlem must gain to escape the forces of poverty and other negative factors in order to attain high levels of success.

Perhaps we might apply the line of thinking that Canada embraced to some of our own academic and professional interests here at SIUE.

First, beyond individual factors such as not working hard or inadequate test-taking skills, what is one institutional, structural, or larger force or barrier that tends to hold even would-be successful college students back?

What would it take to assist greater numbers of students to achieve the necessary escape velocity to break free from the gravitational pull or barrier that you identified?


Douglas Timm said...

I feel that one of them would be home sickeness. As it is for me, i live 5 hours away and next week is the first time that ill be able to see my family. However, i do belive the concept of people missing their parents as this may be the first tim ehtye have not live with them for an extended amount of time. I feel that this cant affect even the brighntest college students. The only real soultion to this would try to keep students occupied the first week or two with activites so they may keep thier minds off the subject. SIUe did a great job of this as they really put together many activites for us so that we may stay occupied.

Clifford Rush III said...

The one structure that is holding me back in my studies is money. I have to make money. I have no financial support from my family and I am paying for college on my own. Well, kinda on my own, I have this scholarship and financial aid! I am working 2 jobs to help put me through college with as little debt as possible as well as keeping me feed. I also might spend it on something petty. Either way, I am not focused on my studies as much as I would like it to be. If i didn't have to worry about money, I would definitely be a better student.

Honestly, I would not know what would help escape this. I mean, more scholarships, Reduced college prices, and better financial aid would be nice. The other spectrum is to work before going to college in order to save for it. Realisticly, I am dealt this situation and I am doing what I can to succeed.

People say C's get degrees.

Think about why they might get a C.

2 jobs(1 is a RA)(the other is about 20hours a week), three 400 level classes(2 are graduate level), Taking 15 hours, and Senior assignment is my academic load and my job. We are not talking about social life and family situation.

What is bringing you down?

I am glad if I get a C.

Are you?

Catalina Trevino said...

I definitely agree with Clifford Rush III, that money is the biggest hold back when it comes to my college education. When I was a senior in high school I was checking out all these expensive schools, not thinking realistically. I was set on going to University of Boulder Colorado. That definitely wasn't going to happen just because I had no funds to make it happen. Right now, I am in the same shoes as he, going to school full time with financial aid and this scholarship (which is a big help!), and working full time. It's very difficult to balance these two things. Everyday I get up go to school, then go straight to work. After, I push myself to stay awake to do my homework and eat. It really wears me down and I don't feel like I am putting in all my effort into my school work because I get so tired throughout the day. I also do not know what would help. Obviously more financial aid would be nice, but our state does not have those funds to give out. I guess there is no solution for our situation other than just working hard and knowing that all this hard work is going to pay off eventually.

Daniel Shields said...

Fortunately, I was raised in a family that stressed the importance of education. Every single person in my family has or is in the process of getting a degree. I think that unity and a strong family building youth up is the KEY to climbing the latter of success.

I agree with Mr. Rush when he says that financial aid plays a huge part in the ability to get a good education. Everyone should be entitled to further their education and I think that as a People we would strive if all people were afforded that opportunity. Just think about it....many people with great minds and ideas that can change the world cannot afford tuition.That is a sad reality.

Chris Stewart said...

One thing that can hold anyone back is fear. For Freshmen, nothing is as frightening as going off to live on your own for the first time and beggining a level of education designed to specifically to prepare you for your major and weed out everyone who is not quite up to it. This is hard to assist others with, but it does go away over time. With a friendly environment and plenty of places to go for help with classes, that fear will be gone in no time.

Wesley Sloan said...

I think for me, one of the biggest barriers holding me back is the structured formula of studying and then having a test over and over again. I know it's been the standard formula since forever, but there should be some way of teaching for those of us who are hands on type of learners. If there was some way to incorporate a mandatory hands on experience/class each semester I think learning would be much more fun as well as memorable. As it is right now, I feel like I'm only memorizing things for a test, rather than actually learning something. To somehow break up the repetition for learning would be incredibly beneficial for students worn out with the grind of having to study and then be tested over and over again. With some hands on experience, school doesn't always have to be in question and answer form.

Hayoung Yu said...

I also feel that one structure holding me back in my studies is money. When I was still in highschool, my courses were a breeze for me so working 20 hours a week, playing a sport every season, and being involved and music and such was very manageable. However, with the courses becoming much harder than they were in highschool, working 20 hours a week, being a club cheerleader, and being an active member of Alpha Sigma Tau is very overwhelming.
Quiting the sorority would not be an option because it means the world to me and I would miss cheerleading too much if I had to quit. Working is not an option because our family is not financially stable. I have to be able to pay my own expenses. Working, along with my extracurriculars, is draining and can make me lazy when it comes to homework. With this laziness comes stress from procrastination. Many all nighters also come from procrastination. The solution here would be time management skills and self-control to stay on a regular, progressive schedule.

Alaina Waters said...

When most students come to college, they get caught up in the college lifestyle. Students stay up all night, party almost every weekend, drink, and try to keep up with their peers. Having fun is okay but some students neglect their studies just ti have fun with friends. Ultimately, living this type of lifestyle eventually catches up to students and I believe this gets in the way of most of their success.

I believe that colleges should have mandatory study hours to ensure that students are devoting a couple of hours to their studies each week. The mandatory study hours should be required for those students living in the dorms on campus.Though the probability of this actually being put into play on campus is slim, I do believe that setting mandatory study hour regulations would definitely help improve some students academic success.

Tia Spiller said...

Like some of the others, I feel that money is my barrier. I plan to do graduate studies so I'm working to pay for college now and in the future. I pay part of my fees straight out of my pocket in an attempt to keep my debt as low as possible. The rest is from this scholarship and financial aid.

I think money is probably the biggest factor to hold people back. Regardless if you had all the skills and qualities to be a good student, if you can't pay for the education then that's the end of it. Even with financial aid, alot of it you have to pay back later on. It would be better if there were more scholarships and grants. Just in general more funding, federal or private, for education would be great.

Anonymous said...

What holds some students back would be financial situations. There are many scholarships out there, but there are also many people applying to those scholarships. Some semesters students are financially cleared, and other semesters something goes wrong, and in cases where financial aid is not able to help someone there semester, then they drop out.
In other cases it could be grants being canceled, and attaining loans to some are very difficult, where most of the people cosigning have bad-credit. I know a lot of people that have this aspect on their mind 24/7, and which in turn distracts them from the larger goal.
Other than that, maybe keeping students interested. Really advertising the diverse events that take place on campus. Students have to able to balance between academics and a social life. If you structure a positive social life, then when school get's hard you'll have a stress reliever to fall back on, take a quick break and then get back on track. - Cassaundra Sampson

TaNeal Walls said...

Hm, well. With a topic like this I truly believe it depends on the persons motives, morals, background, and overall mindset. What are your plans when you go to college? What type of situation are you in when you go to college? Are you equipped with the techniques to be able to manage all the activities that go on throughout college? Are you going to school to be greek? Are you going to school to get that "cool kid" reputation? Are you going to school to be the BEST you can? What really matters? I LOVE siue and all the resources they provide. All the computer labs and study atmospheres, the SSC, the SOAR office, the tutors...I feel like the list is endless. And it bothers me to see that people dont utalize these resources but they really do help! Now, I worked 2 jobs and still mantained a GPA above 3.5 so I know it can be done! Dedication is the key and surronding yourself with people with a similar goal is essential!

Christine Vu said...

I think one of the largest barriers that students face is also financial support. Sometimes, it is the case that we have to pay more money to get the most out of the education we want to seek for. Without that type of necessity, many parents or kids can't afford to go to such institutions.

Abby Thompson said...

A larger force that hold students back is finances. Higher Education is very costly, and hard to afford, especially for those in more destitute areas such as Harlem. Yes there are loans, scholarships, and grants, but achieving those are sometimes difficult, and serve as obstacles.
To break free from this restraining barrier, I truly believe that more money needs to be disbursed into funding for education, and more programs created to monetarily assist college students. If the United States claims to be such strong advocate for education, then why aren’t they trying harder to break one of strongest barriers hindering educational advancement?

Tyann Senaldi said...

The number one problem for myself personally is money. Although I recieve scholarships and financial aid to cover the tuition expenses, living expenses are extrememly high. I have a two year old, and sending him to daycare just so I can get to class is an arm and a leg. My husband and I both work 40 hours a week to help make ends meet. I work evenings four times a week, so after I've finished school, I head straight to work, and that doesn't leave much time for studying.
I think offering more ways for all students to recieve scholarships, or grants would encorage a lot of students to stay in school.

N.L.W. said...

I agree with Clifford and Catalina.I feel as though money is an issue for many people that could hold students back. College is very pricey and yes everyone has the opportunity to get scholarships but everyone doesn't always meet the requirements to receive them. Everyone isn't offered that opportunity to go a university on a full ride because of athletics or outstanding grades. It's rough out there for those looking and trying to receive an education with little funds and no support from anyone else. Support from family financially and emotionally is another big factor. It's great if you believe in yourself but when someone else backs you up and believes in you as well is even better.I'm thankful for my support team because I don't know what I would do without them. My family and friends are always letting me know how proud they are of me, how they are here for me, believe in me, support, and love me. It motivates me in a way to want to keep going strong throughout the school year and just live life to it's fullest because I know that support team is there and it makes me feel good about myself.
I believe that depending on the issues and situations a student may be experiencing at the time could definitely affect their success. We can only hope that none of this happens but a death within the family, an illness, accident, controlling and abusive relationships,or falling into the wrong crowd can affect someone's academic performance drastically.

In order to fix these issues I think that every student should be taught how to search for scholarships and that financial aid was better for everyone.
When it comes to support not everyone has support systems, so I think it is important for teachers and professors to let their students know how much they care and how much they want them to succeed. I feel as though encouraging words could make a difference in someone's life.
As far as unexpected issues go, I'm not sure how to go about that but hopefully someone is there to help and in the time of need that professor's have favor among those students depending on the situation.
Also skills to succeed and study are always helpful tools to have so a program or quick seminars that educate you in those areas would be nice and study groups and just surrounding yourself with positive education/succeeding craving people makes you want to be like and do the same.
Nia Williams

J.Tanulanond said...

I think that the biggest thing holding students back would be staying positive and focused. Students, myself included, get down on ourselves when we do poorly on one thing because we're not used to having the responsibility on ourselves. Back home we were more micromanaged and put under a magnifier in that when we would fall out of orbit we would be immediately picked back up and realigned. Now, with this new responsibility, a lot of us are falling behind because it seems overwhelming to have to manage ourselves when we mess up instead of focusing on doing well and getting picked up by somebody else. We had a huge support system back home, most of us, and now we have ourselves. It is somewhat hard to adjust. To assist this, I think it is more of a change within the individual rather than administratively. But, as far as SIUE, the only thing i can think of to help correct this or improve this would be more regular updates. Otherwise, the school does a good job of accommodating.

Anonymous said...

I believe one setback is the lack of time management skills. It is not always easy to recognize and acknowledge that college is different from high school. And in many cases, THAT high school mentality follows people. I think if students were taught how to manage their time before coming to college--many wouldn't feel the need to go to every event..every party...every outing..if its going to cost them that quiz grade or a letter grade on that paper. Or on the other hand, other students wouldn't feel the need to miss every social event in order to get an A on every assignment. Its finding some sort of medium-- Have fun sometimes but work as well.

Cassandra Smith

Unknown said...

I think in some circumstances, the people that some surround themselves with could be their downfall. I think that it would take a person wanting to find people who also want to be successful. Only then when a person be able to escape these traps.