Friday Fragments | Confessions of a Community College Dean

My thanks to all of the wise and worldly readers who responded to my query about national statistics on the bachelor’s-level success rates of students who participated in early-college programs in high school.

The bad news is, apparently, there isn’t much good national-scale research out there.

If there are any enterprising Ed.D. graduate students out there looking for a dissertation topic that could make a difference, I offer this for your consideration.

There’s no shortage of confident opinion about early-college programs on all sides but, so far, relatively little detailed research. Do students who get middling grades in college classes at age 15 suffer when they eventually apply to law or medical school? Do students who take many gen ed classes while in high school do as well in the junior and senior years of college as those who mostly waited until college? Do the effects differ by race, sex, income level or veteran status?

Budding statisticians looking to make a mark, I leave this in your capable hands …

A tip of the cap to Representative Joe Courtney, Democrat of Connecticut, who gave me a call Monday to discuss last week’s piece on canceling the interest on student loans.

He had introduced a bill to do something similar. He referred to it as “refinancing,” which I suppose it is, but on autopilot. As he noted, people across the political spectrum have refinanced loans before; this is effectively the same thing. But since the lender would be doing it at scale, it would be a lot less work for the borrowers. Setting the new interest rate at zero would still require people to pay back every penny of principal, but it wouldn’t require them to pay any more than that. People wouldn’t fall into the trap of compound interest accruing faster than their payments; instead, every penny paid would reduce the remaining principal.

I was glad to hear that the idea is in the air in Congress. Unlike flat-out cancellation, it may be able to attract bipartisan support and survive changes in party control. And it would allow the underlying program to survive.

Representative Courtney could have had a staffer send an email, but he set aside the time for an actual conversation with someone who doesn’t even live in his district. I appreciated that.

In the interest of bipartisanship, I’d be happy to have a similar conversation with anyone on the other side of the aisle, as well. Hint, hint …

This week marked The Girl’s final high school band concert. Which is to say, it marked our final high school band concert as parents. We’ve been to every concert since The Boy was in fifth grade.

The whole empty-nest thing is starting to become real.

When The Boy went off to college three years ago, we definitely felt the absence. But we were still actively parenting on a daily basis. In a few months, we won’t be. For the first time since 2001, we won’t have a child in the house.

TG has to make her college choice this month. If not for a particularly persnickety financial aid office at one school, she probably would have made it by now. She’s eager to know where she’ll be. We are, too, but maybe just a little bit less.

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