Facing the college challenges: Getting in and paying for it

By pricing college out of reach to many American families and loading up students with burdensome debt, is our country breaking the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights?

Article 26 of that Declaration provides in part “…higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.”

Does the United States measure up?

Probably not.

The high cost and unmanageable debt have made “equally accessible” higher education to all only a memory of better times.

But Robyn Hadley, author of “Within View, Within Reach: Navigating the College-Bound Journey,”  does all she can to help families find higher education opportunities that are accessible and appropriate for their prospective college students.

Hadley’s own experience gives her a lot of credibility. As a first-generation college student, she came to Carolina in 1981 as a Morehead Scholar. Then she made history as the first African American woman from the South to win a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University in Great Britain.

Her book also comes out of her experience in counseling students in the Alamance-Burlington school system. She is executive director of the system’s “What’s After High School?” program.

In connection with her recent selection by the White House as a Champion of Change, she wrote that, when she began the ‘What’s After High School?’ program in 2005, “this quote in the office at Eastern Alamance High School caught my attention and I wrote it down: ‘Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not. This is the first lesson to be learned. –Thomas Huxley’

“Later I thought to myself, ‘that’s really what college access is…teaching young people about the world and opportunities beyond where they live, showing them how a college education can help them realize those opportunities and equipping them with the tools and resources to do what they ‘have to do, when it ought to be done, whether (they) like it or not.’”

Hadley urges families to begin the college admission process long before students’ senior years in high school. Not only should the college preparation and selection process begin early, it should be a family team effort. Parents should learn about the kinds of high school courses college admissions officials want to see on the records of their applicants. Then the parents need to stay in touch with their child’s teachers and counselors to be sure everyone’s expectations are understood.

Getting the prospective student prepared is just one of the challenges. Another is finding the colleges that would be right for the student. Hadley writes, “So often we think of the college-bound journey in terms of colleges sizing up the student, but the college-going process is equally about students and families sizing up colleges and universities as well.”  Family discussions about college and visits to college campuses ought to come well before the senior year.

Hadley deals with the cost-of-college challenge that has put the opportunity out of reach for many prospective college students. She writes, “There may be voices in your own home that say, ‘There’s no way we can afford this’ or those who think your child is reaching too high.”

Hadley shouts down such voices, but she admits that money is a big problem: “The cost of a college education is often the biggest obstacle that most families fear… we discuss what to expect financially, revealing hidden costs and even setting budgets that will help your child get to college and stay there to complete his degree.”

Hadley’s book addresses “how to obtain the needed resources, including scholarships and financial aid, to make your child’s educational dreams a reality.”

With her help, at least some students are finding the higher education opportunities the Declaration of Human Rights seeks to insure.

http://chapelboro.com/columns/one-on-one/facing-the-college-challenges-getting-in-and-paying-for-it/

Bookwatch returns with authors who were worth waiting for

Those who missed North Carolina Bookwatch on UNC-TV while it has been off the air to make room for “Festival’s” special programming can look forward to this Sunday afternoon at five o’clock. Bookwatch returns with an encore lineup of books, authors, and characters.

It all begins next Sunday with Rachel, the blue-eyed child of a black American GI and a Danish mother, who is the central character in an award-winning novel, “The Girl Who Fell From the Sky” by Heidi Durrow. Durrow herself is the child of a Danish mother and an African-American father, whose military assignments brought him to North Carolina. The author’s real struggle to find her identity provided the background for the similar fictional struggle that Rachel faced. But the novel is a darker story, a more compelling one, of a child whose mother loved her so much she wanted her child to die with her. (Durrow will be my Bookwatch guest at 5:00 p.m. Sunday, April 1.)

From “Birth of a Nation” in 1915 to Hattie McDaniel in “Gone with the Wind,” to Ethel Waters in “Member of the Wedding” in 1952, African-American actresses made their way into American movies in the first half of the last century.  In her new book, “African American Actresses: The Struggle for Visibility, 1900–1960,” UNC-Chapel Hill professor Charlene Regester tells the real stories of these women who became stars in a time of segregation and oppression. (April 8)

John Hart’s novel “The Lost Child” won for him a second Edgar Award for the best mystery novel of the year. He says his latest, “Iron House,” is even better. It is a page-turner, with much of the action set on a large estate near Chapel Hill owned by a wealthy U.S. Senator. (April 15)

Hillsborough author, Anna Jean Mayhew, and a new novel, “The Dry Grass of August”, take us all the way back to the racially-segregated Charlotte of 1954 and the poignant story of a young girl in a family under stress, being pulled apart by forces the girl does not understand. It is a story, in Lee Smith’s words, that is “written with unusual charm, wonderful dialogue, and a deeply felt sense of time and place.” (April 22)

One of North Carolina’s most respected authors, UNC-Greensboro’s Michael Parker’s new book, “The Watery Part Of The World,” is an imaginative story that blends coastal history and legends with race and other complexities to make a gripping and lovely story.  (April 29)

Best-selling author Steve Berry’s many visits to eastern North Carolina led him to set much of his newest adventure novel, “The Jefferson Key,” in and around the town of Bath, where fictional modern-day pirates live in palatial estates. (May 6)   

Rosecrans Baldwin’s first novel “You Lost Me There” is set in Maine, and Baldwin has only recently settled in Chapel Hill. But when the book was named one of National Public Radio’s Best Books of 2010, a Best Book of Summer 2010 by Time and Entertainment Weekly, and a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, I knew Bookwatch viewers would want to learn about Baldwin and his highly praised book. (May 13)   

Morehead Scholar and Rhodes Scholar Robyn Hadley used her experience in counseling students in the Alamance-Burlington school system to write a book for students planning for college. The book is “Within View, Within Reach: Navigating the College-Bound Journey.” Hadley’s good advice might be even more important for parents of prospective college students. (May 20)   

Last fall, Charles Frazier’s “Nightwoods” made the New York Times bestseller list and stayed there for weeks. “Nightwoods” may not be the same kind of blockbuster that his “Cold Mountain,” but it is a solid success sales-wise. “Nightwoods” is set in Frazier’s beloved North Carolina mountains. With engaging characters and a story line of suspense and surprise, this short book is attracting a new group of fans. Because it is compact it opens the doors for a wider audience to become acquainted with Frazier’s magnificent gifts. Many people who did not finish “Cold Mountain” or “Thirteen Moons” are, through “Nightwoods,” enjoying Frazier’s luscious prose. (May 27)

http://chapelboro.com/columns/one-on-one/bookwatch-returns-with-authors-who-were-worth-waiting-for/

New books and a new Bookwatch

UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch begins a new season on Friday, August 5, at 9:30 p.m., and Sunday, August 7, at 5 p.m.
 
My editors let me share with you my reading suggestions. They know that the suggestions parallel exactly upcoming Bookwatch shows.
 
Because earlier columns have already discussed several books on the list, some descriptions will be short.
 
The new series opens with one of North Carolina’s most respected authors, UNC-Greensboro’s Michael Parker. He discusses “The Watery Part Of The World,” an imaginative story that blends coastal history and legends with race and other complexities to make a gripping and lovely story.  (Aug. 5, 7)
 
In “Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next,” John D. Karsarda, director of the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at UNC-Chapel Hill, explains why efficient, well-designed airports attract economic development and will be the central cities of the future. He discusses the challenges and opportunities that face North Carolina’s major airports. (Aug. 12,14)
 
Can a retired professor of religious studies write a successful science fiction novel? David Halperin’s “Journal of a UFO Investigator, ” proves that UFOs, science fiction, and religion can come together to make compelling fiction in a most unusual way. (Aug. 19, 21)
 
Sara Foster’s “Southern Kitchen: Soulful, Traditional, Seasonal” will be the first of several food-related books featured on Bookwatch this season. Foster, who once worked with Martha Stewart, generously shares favorite recipes from her family and from her market. (Aug. 26, 28)
 
Best-selling author Steve Berry’s many visits to eastern North Carolina led him to set much of his newest adventure novel, “The Jefferson Key,” in and around the town of Bath, where fictional modern-day pirates live in palatial estates. (Sept. 2, 4)
 
Rosecrans Baldwin’s first novel “You Lost Me There” is set in Maine, and Baldwin has only recently settled in North Carolina. But when the book was named one of National Public Radio’s Best Books of 2010, a Best Book of Summer 2010 by Time and Entertainment Weekly, and a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, I knew Bookwatch viewers would want to learn about Baldwin and his highly praised book. (Sept. 9, 11)
 
Watauga County native Sheri Castle’s “The New Southern Garden Cookbook: Enjoying the Best from Homegrown Gardens, Farmers’ Markets, Roadside Stands, and CSA Farm Boxes” is a guide to finding the best seasonal foods in our region. She organizes her recipes into about 40 chapters, each featuring a different vegetables or fruit. (Sept. 16, 18)
 
Where do you get these seasonal foods? Diane Daniel’s “Farm Fresh North Carolina: The Go-To Guide to Great Farmers’ Markets, Farm Stands, Farms, Apple Orchards, U-Picks, Kids’ Activities, Lodging, Dining, Choose-and-Cut Christmas Trees, Vineyards and Wineries, and More.” Durham’s Daniel’s great travel writing skills describe where doors are open for us to learn how the best North Carolina foods are grown and raised. (Sept. 23, 25)
 
Marjorie Hudson’s “Accidental Birds of the Carolinas: Stories about newcomers and natives, and the healing power of the rural South” is a collection of fiction that gives a true look at how rural North Carolina is changing and staying the same. (Sept. 30, Oct. 2)
 
“Butterfly’s Child” by former N.C. State writing teacher, Angela Davis-Gardner, is a sequel to Puccini’s opera. It answers fictionally the question, “What ever happened to Madam Butterfly’s son after she committed suicide when her American lover came back to Japan with his American wife?” (Oct. 7, 9)
 
Morehead Scholar and Rhodes Scholar Robyn Hadley used her experience in counseling students in the Alamance-Burlington school system to write a book for students planning for college. The book is “Within View, Within Reach: Navigating the College-Bound Journey.” Hadley’s good advice might be even more important for parents of prospective college students. (Oct. 12, 14)

What books are you looking forward to this fall? Let me know below. 

http://chapelboro.com/columns/one-on-one/new-books-and-a-new-bookwatch/