One Hour Intervention

An interesting article published in Inside Higher Education notes that a simpler intervention can dramatically decrease the achievement gap for first-generation college students.  It is called “difference-education intervention.”


Cultivating an Entrepreneurial Mindset Among First Generation Students


Certified to teach the “entrepreneurship mindset,” I am trained to facilitate the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative’s (ELI) Ice House lessons for organizations and college students.  I am also an advocate for first generation, low income college students.  At first blush, it may seem as though entrepreneurs and first-generation students have nothing much in common.  That assumption, as I have recently discovered, is dead wrong.

The first generation college students I have had the privilege of getting to know are entrepreneurial in nature, but they have yet to leverage it for their advantage.

The students I teach and advise are already risk takers. Circumventing barriers and navigating roadblocks is almost second nature to them.  My college students have dreams, but many have learned to keep their aspirations to themselves–hidden, locked from preying eyes.

Our generation must relinquish the key. We unlock their human potential when we give them permission to dream.  Dreaming involves trusting and expects sharing.   It starts with us.  See the students for who and what they are.  Listen and learn from them. And in turn, we can help them uncover what they have known all along. They are the captains of their ships and the masters of their fates.

Research by Gallup Poll speaks to this point.Privilege May Not Be an Advantage for College Graduates



College Pays: Racoons Do Not

College Pays: Raccoons Do Not

by Joyce A. Banjac, Ph.D.


few years back, while juggling a job, motherhood, and college classes, I gave my husband a simple assignment, or so I thought.  I asked him to make a list of repairs, those things that needed attention around the house, and to fix them, without the benefit of my little reminders.

He agreed, maybe not enthusiastically, but he did agree.

I assumed that he would notice stuff falling apart and he would fix things before they were written off as useless, an eyesore, or a threat to life and limb.  But since hubbie dearest was never one to notice even the most obvious signs of household decline, it should have come as no surprise that he agreed in principle, but disagreed in practice.

I wanted to believe so badly that this time things would be different that I ignored subtle warning signs—fire detector beeping in the middle of the night, batteries running dry after three years of neglect, postal workers banging on our front door because fixing the doorbell didn’t make the list.

Some might say I was the culprit, the mastermind behind the straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back, moment.  Others thought I lacked gumption, or trusted too much.

One warm spring evening, moms and dads, toddlers and teens, even pets and pooches were out and about and all was fine with the world.

Except all was not fine at our household, and the neighbors knew it. They had gotten wind of the fact that something was not quite right at our place.

Since there seemed to be nothing better to do that evening, everyone that had just been out and about, meandering, walking, or jogging, decided to show up at our house to learn firsthand what the commotion was all about.

It took only a few moments for our neighborly bystanders to realize what was happening. They were about to witness a furry critter outing—the first of its kind on the block, and in the development, and probably even the city.

There they stood, eyeballs glued to our roof, as they watched a family of furry creatures, black rings around their eyes, leave their comfortable hiding space, climb out onto the shingles, and tiptoe across the gutter as if guilty of a crime.

It should have been funny, maybe.  Instead I wondered why a backyard sinkhole wasn’t opening up right then and there, a surefire technique for treating utter embarrassment.

Instead I glared at the back of hubby’s glistening bald head.  He was no longer the procrastinating loaf that got us into this mess, but had blossomed into a new creature right in front of my eyes. He was now a charismatic backyard ringleader.  He was in his element: joking and slapping neighbors on the back. What would he do next?  Sell peanuts and cotton candy to the mesmerized onlookers?

Weeks earlier, I had heard a peculiar scratching sound coming from an upstairs bedroom.  I turned to my dozing husband and hissed, “What is that?”  

“Don’t’ know . . .  but I‘ve been hearing that scratching for weeks now, maybe a bird”?

In my first moment of utter clarity, I reasoned: Since the thing sounds like it weighs as much as a small cow, it probably is not a bird.

So our days leading up to the critter outing were spent making frantic calls to raccoon eviction experts and following their commands: blare loud music during the wee hours and douse the second floor with ammonia, repeatedly.  By the time the raccoon adventure had played out, we had shelled out more than a thousand dollars to professionals experienced in wild animal extractions—money that could have been used to buy new carpet or to splurge on an exotic safari vacation.

Looking back, I realize that our raccoon rendezvous was nothing more than another one of those life lessons.  We see what we want to see and make excuses for why we don’t see what we should see.  We delay and postpone and procrastinate even when the evidence is right in front of us that waiting for another day causes downstream disasters.

If it is a snap to postpone the obvious, like critter infestations, imagine how much easier it is to put off the intangibles that matter the most: our own goals, our own ideas, and our own hopes and dreams.

For example, many working adults hope to attend college or return to the college classroom, someday. The thought of attending college may have crossed your mind a thousand times because you want to learn new things, use your head for something besides a hat-rack, improve your work-related skills, and enhance your opportunities for career advancement.

Adults who have earned college degrees are less likely to be unemployed.  Federal census data from 2010 revealed that the unemployment rate for high school graduates was 10.2%; yet, it was only 5.4% for adults with baccalaureate degrees.

Over a lifetime, college educated adults earn more than their high school pals, and by some estimates this lifelong difference hovers around one million dollars.  Earning a college degree doesn’t just benefit us as individuals or deliver financial and intellectual advantages to our families.  Education contributes to our quality of life, enriching the economic vitality and competitiveness of our workplaces, our county, and our nation.

If you have been imagining life as a college graduate, don’t ignore your mind’s rumblings like my husband ignored those mysterious noises in the night.

College is for you.

If you already have some college credits, return to finish your degree.  If you have never stepped foot into a college classroom, get busy walking to a community college, a four-year private college, or a state university.  State-supported community colleges and universities are usually accredited by the same regional agency, which makes transferring credits easier.  In this country, you can start with a G.E.D. and by transferring your credits to a university, end up with a Ph.D.

You can enroll in March or April for fall classes.

Don’t put off your decision to attend college.  Only you can take decide to action.  You can turn your aspirations into achievements.  There is simply nothing like graduating from college.  Age doesn’t matter.

You are never too young or too old to change the world.  Procrastination—now that’s another thing.  It robs you blind and is never welcome—kind of like raccoons that steal your food, embarrass you in front of neighbors, and have the audacity to sneak back in when you are looking the other way.

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