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The Cipher is Hiring

11/8/10

To CC students — the Cipher is looking to hire a couple of new editors to begin working next semester (and to continue into the next school year). Applications are available at the Worner desk or by emailing us at Cipher@coloradocollege.edu, and are due by Monday, November 22nd.

If you’re passionate about journalism and/or creative nonfiction and would like to build your writing and editing skills, apply! This is a great chance to get lots of experience with all aspects of magazine-making.

— Will Vunderink, Editor-in-Chief

Rethinking Teach for America

1.07.10

John Knight, editor

As a result of the poor job market college seniors and graduates face, many of us are considering the non-profit sector, browsing the Peace Corps website with regularity, and, yes, wondering about Teach for America. Fittingly, this organization has found a prominent place in the media over the past week and it would behoove anyone considering the 2 year commitment to check out some of these articles.

To follow up on a NPR special from November which gave a brief overview of the program through the eyes of one participant, the network aired this report on New Orleans’ difficulty retaining TFA graduates in schools. Although TFA graduates are more qualified, the report found that they often don’t stay on very long with the schools–a major problem for the districts struggling to maintain a cohesive level of education. A similar story in the Times reported that most TFA graduates are less in involved in civil service after they leave the program. I guess after two years there is the feeling that the civil duty was fulfilled, not it’s time for something else.

And finally, to give more factual fodder to the rampant rumors about the flaws of TFA as a whole, is this article from Campus Progress that examines the increasing number of TFA participants and graduates who are unsatisfied with the program and have even dropped out before the 2 years were up. The feeling of an overall lack of preparation and support offered by TFA to its members has become a serious problem for potential applicants who may be dissuaded from applying.

Nonetheless, there has been a drastic increase in the number of TFA applicatns, despite the rumors. But, as you wonder what the next two years might bring, don’t commit for the wrong reasons.

How a BA Does Not Equal a JOB

But why we still go to college

1.4.10
by John Knight, editor

I spent a good chunk of my winter break rubbing my eyes in front of my computer, scanning hundreds of job searches, and desperately trying to keep my fears at bay. But those fears are not ungrounded: there’s a chance, a really good chance, that I won’t have a job after graduating. Such stories have become common place–the Cum Laude graduate living in her parent’s basement and babysitting–but as Obama moves from health care to education, the dismal job prospects of college graduates presents the question: Is college really worth it?

In a recent article in the Times, Kate Zernike reports that there is an increasing pressure on colleges to present themselves as ‘job-relevant’ and are eliminating ‘useless’ majors like philosophy and classics. Liberal art colleges are putting increasing emphasis on ‘marketability’ and majors with a purpose. In another Times piece, Rachel Aviv reports a huge surge in alumni who are now returning to their alma maters for career advice 10+ years after graduation.

Am I fated to be coming back here for years, asking for help to get a job? Maybe Obama should forget college affordability and just invest in job fairs and career centers. As Christopher Jencks reports in the American Prospect, there are many problems with higher education in America, but maybe it’s not actually worth it to fix them if the expectation of college is to provide job security and it can’t even do that.

But then again, I didn’t come to CC to get a job. I majored in English and Philosophy and have no illusions that I’ll make millions later. Of course I want a job–I’ve got bills to pay and would like to eat every once in a while–but that’s not why I came to college. It’s actually not very surprising that college graduates can’t get jobs because getting a job is not what most colleges are supposed to teach–they’re supposed to teach us how to think critically, how to write, how to talk. The idea is that school is a place where students can develop strong personal traits, not resumes, which can then be used to create job opportunities.

Joblessness and unpaid internships are hard realities to keep in mind as May draws closer, especially with loans to repay, but the frantic search for money should not eclipse what we have learned in college. Perhaps we really did get our money’s worth after all.

Correction

In the December Generation issue, the front inside cover illustration by Sarah Wool was incorrectly attributed to Eleanor Anderson. Our apologies.

Funding Our Education

12.7.09

John Knight, editor

In the wake of state-wide student demonstrations across California, many members of our generation (see this month’s issue) are looking towards Washington with fingers crossed for legislation that will increase the affordability of college in the coming year. Earlier this year, Rep. George Miller (CA) introduced the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act which adheres to President Obama’s demand for a college affordability plan for 2010. The bill has been passed by the House of Representatives and is expected to follow closely on the heels health reform in the Senate.

Although this probably means we won’t see anything tangible before the close of the year, there is hope that the legislation will pass before the commencement of the ’10-’11 school year. However, as Erin Rosa’s article, “A Quiet War on Students” reveals, the country’s leading loan lenders like Sallie Mae have thrown everything they can muster into lobbying against the bill–already more than $4 million this year. I can’t wait to pay back my loans…

For clarity’s sake, check out Pedro de la Torre’s article “Best Government Takeover Ever” where he outlines exactly what students have to gain from the bill. But more than just reading about it, if you hope not to be drowning beneath loan payments after you walk across that stage, you might considering pestering your local rep. After all, what’s an education worth if not at least some rabble-rousing.

No Escaping Res-Life

11.25.09

John Knight, editor

I recently had my bike lock cut and bike taken from a hand-rail by Residential Life at CC. After $50 and a half-hour tracking down the ‘right people,’ I retrieved my steed with a stern admonishing that it is a fire hazard and that “a handicapped person would have tripped” if they had attempted to use the stairs where my bike was locked. Not only are both of these dubious claims at best, but as a CC student it seems that Residential Life should be serving me, rather than making my life an expensive hassle. And yet I have found again and again that Res-Life has only dampened my time at college, rather than enhanced it.

This is not the place for details (although I could certainly provide them) but I believe that student’s poor treatment at the hands of Res-Life deserves at least some mention. As if being forced to live on campus for three years weren’t bad enough, the curse comes with Res-Life’s over-protective, excessively expensive, and apparent indifference to the inconvenience it levels against students. There is little good that comes from this part of the college and a great amount of frustration. Some support for students living away from home for the first time is necessary, I agree, but there is no reason to squeeze our hand until all the blood is gone. If CC students were treated like adults, they might start acting like them. Herodotus once wrote that “Soft countries breed soft men,” and I am afraid that an immature college is breeding immature students.


Fighting Hunger: Out of Sight and Mind No More

11.16.09

John Knight, editor

Yesterday, National Public Radio reported that 1 of every 7 US families struggled to get enough food to eat last year. For the richest nation in the world, this is an astounding, unacceptable statistic. The report, issued by the USDA, has been a national surprise, much more so than unemployment rates. Although hunger is a logical conclusion to be drawn from the staggering job market, the national astonishment at these statistics suggest that until now, the issue has been tucked safely out of sight and out of mind of the American public. However, the absurdity of widespread hunger amongst Americans must not be ignored any longer.

As I have reported for this publication in the past, America throws away almost 100 billion pounds of good food every year. There are the lucky few who cash in at dumpsters, but most of it heads to landfills. If you don’t believe it, check out Jeremy Seifert’s new movie, Dive! or just go to any Safeway dumpster late at night and see for yourself.

Furthermore, as the holiday season looms with the prospect of cozy families and home-cooked meals, it appears that the task of fighting hunger will fall largely on the shoulders of the American public (since healthcare will most likely not be resolved until 2010 even though it’s been #1 on the ticket for over six months). In the next couple of weeks, CC alum Basil Kincaid will be launching his new art project, Will Draw For Food, in which he will sequester himself in public spaces (probably Worner) and draw/paint for 24 hours, in an attempt to raise money for the needy in Colorado Springs. You can donate cash or dinning dollars and will receive a custom piece of art in return. Stayed tuned for details.

Or, if you’re feeling up to the task, you can always donate directly to Colorado Springs food banks. The two closest to CC are Manna Ministries (south on Royer) or Care and Share (north on Academy). Just don’t give those old cans of chopped liver at the back of your cupboard–if you don’t want them, other people probably don’t either.

Finally, if you’re the kind of person who always gets screwed last-minute shopping for Christmas presents, check out Heifer International. With the bigger picture in mind, you can buy an animal for a family in a third-world country that will contribute, or even supplement their entire diet. The site gives you all the info you need and it’s a great feel-good present for the family.

How Much Does Celeste Pocket?

by John Knight, editor

11.08.09

Recently, as radical (yeah right) reform sweeps the nation, I’ve been wondering when, if ever, we’ll get around to higher education. Obama says he’s working on it but as a CC senior who will graduate about $15,000 in debt this May, he obviously won’t get around to it in time to help me. Although a private education is expensive and I knew that when I signed on, the reality of that much debt is now looming large and I hope my decision to come here rather than UNH won’t land me on my ass in the financial gutter next year–hopefully this expensive brain can scrounge up some serious returns.

Nonetheless, I was impressed by CC’s administration’s efforts last year to leave off from cranking up the tuition price in response to the economic turn, even though the school is recruiting students from wealthier and wealthier backgrounds. Yeah yeah, the football team–blah blah–but they weren’t the only ones taking cuts. One might think that Ol’ Dickie Celeste wouldn’t be watching money flit out of his paycheck (being top dog and all) even though his secretary got the boot. But, as it turns out, not so. The President’s compensation package for the 07-08 school year notched in at just under $420,000 according to a survey conducted by the Chronicle of Higher Education. Although Celeste’s package was about $60,000 above the national average, he did take a modest reduction of about $23,000 from the 06-07 school year. And, to his credit, he is well below those presidents who received over $1 million despite the crippling economy as reported in this NY Times article.

Even though Dick’s salary and benefits package probably didn’t leave him sacrificing his steak for burger patties, I applaud him for taking the cut he did. However, just because the economy seems to be stabilizing and perhaps on the rise, there’s no reason Celeste’s compensation this year should jump back up when so many of the seniors will graduate with such terrific debts or when the school is still cutting jobs. I imagine $400,000 is more than enough.

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3 responses to “Blog

  1. Hi, I just found your blog – thank you for writing. As an FYI that it’s not displaying properly on the BlackBerry Browser (I have a Tour). Anyway, I am now on your RSS feed on my PC, so thanks!

  2. Susan

    Thank you for helping me keep in mind all you’ve gained in college – even as you struggle to find a way into the next phase of responsibilities, challenges and accomplishments… nothing lasting can be built without a solid foundation.

  3. I really appreciate your blog post, I always check this once in a while if there is a new one.. thank you very much..

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