uni mentor ecosystem – (ccu)
[Imagine – if this little/ginormous idea not only helps with college/uni entrance, but it ends up curing our obsession/dilemma with the getting-in, the proving proof, the sticking-to-it-ness, the sustainability.. the happiness.. the planet…]
On a recent college visit, I was pleased to find a great model for an entire ecosystem of mentorship. CCU students/faculty had been touting their solid community, and for all I can tell, it appears legit by design.
The campus is small 1200-1500, and somewhat affluent (at least the tuition calls for much money). But I believe their layered, overlapping and differentiated means for everyone being known by someone, begs neither small size nor large expense.
A brief description:
1:150; 8-5; 5 days/wk: Their life direction program is a center providing a one-stop for all needs a student might have. It’s housed/staffed from 8-5 everyday. For most staff, this is their only responsibility. Each staff facilitates the same – approximately 150 – students for all four years the student is there. Kids can drop in to the center whenever they need to.
1:50?; on call: Academic mentors are pretty much on call, whenever they aren’t in class. It really appears to be much like a family atmosphere, where off hours you find everyone hanging around the campus..like they might around the house. Not sure what this ratio might be, but am assuming less that 1 to 150, since the average class size is around 15. So kids can make an appointment whenever they need to. Academic mentors stay with the same student for all four years as well.
whole community; twice/wk: They have whole community gatherings twice a week. This is required. But from all I could tell, it was a highlight for everyone.
1:20; 24/7: Dorm-like apartments are grouped by what they call stairwells. There are 20 students to one upperclassman. This is pretty much a 24/7 on call situation. Most appeared to gather at least 3-4 times a week for formal/informal events. One of the freshman classes is taken with this group along with a stairwell of the opposite sex. So they pretty much live together, but also take a course together that first year. Then within that course, they break up into groups of 4-5, that meet once a week all first semester as well.
1:1; 24/7: They have a couple security people that ride around the campus 24/7, at the students’ beckon call. One of the first things students get is their cell phone number.
2 get-aways: They go on at least two weekend retreats a year.
I love the many levels, and the many different kinds of connection that are available.
Their president, upon his arrival, (can’t remember what year he arrived), took down the doors of his office and put in big glass doors. He walks the campus often, for casual conversation, often asking what book a person is reading.
He also says that they are seeking out homeschool/unschool students, because they are proving to be highly self-directed.
perhaps even more key – is the prior to attending piece:
Also believe that their (CCU’s – and probably many others) structured connections prior to attending is huge. Perhaps it could replace ACT/SAT, diploma, … even portfolio, et al. By helping kids find out if they really want to go someplace. [So, boldly suggesting it’s more about fittingness than fitting/getting in.] And helping kids/people find it out in a more timely and humane way. Specifically, by connecting them. To a current/live student, as mentor.
Over the last four years, we’ve come across kids wishing they could experiment with/visit /live-in – with no risk (perhaps audit-ish, mooc-ish) a university/college they are interested in – so that the uni is not such a mystery. We’ve had kids think they wanted to go one place, no doubt in their mind. We get them in, then shortly thereafter, once they actually see what is there, they change their mind. They realize it wasn’t what they imagined. What if that mystery didn’t exist, at least not to he extent it does now. What if the kids who actually apply/enroll, are already embedded in the system, enough to know.
[thinking emoocs here, millions enroll, only thousands finish. that should tell us something. we need more options for people to check things out without having to pay first, without punishment of some withdrawal stigma. if we are clever, that will actually cost less than we are spending now – people/money/time/energy/resources – to get people into the places that are the best fit for them. if we can get past the competition mentality and think more in terms of public education – being – what’s best for all people – because if all people are their best – communities flourish.]
Imagine their being no entry evaluation, just the kind of structured connections like CCU already have in place.
ie: So you want to go to CCU/uni – here is a person(s) – students/counselors – assigned to you. There are several facebook pages, multiple ways to have connection with a live student, who will honestly answer your questions, invite you to come check it out.
No longer are the ginormous admissions staffs doing what they’ve been doing – taking in thousands of applications, thousands of which have 4.o’s, perfect act scores, deliberating between them, selecting their max, but then many are still not a good fit, as seen in the need for remedial courses, freshman dropout rate, et al. Perhaps the reason many are still not a good fit, is mostly because the kid, having been through a system that praises 4.0’s and high test scores, doesn’t know what they want, doesn’t know how to figure out what they want, has only heard that college is the place to be. Then perhaps they find out how similar it is to the last 12 years.
This system of structured connections prior to, could be a huge resource to universities/colleges with a mission of making the world a better place. Turning over control issues, value issues, getting-in issues, and considering their spaces as spaces of experimentation. A very chaordic structure of breathtaking efficiency/resiliency/humanity. De-centralizing the university.
surely something like this could be worked out in a city,
to make sure everyone is known by someone. The beauty, it would offer more potential for attachment than today’s system. And because it’s based more on availability – being on call – than seat time – it would free more people (young and old) to spend more time developing not only richer/deeper relationships but more time doing/being what matters.