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Alex commented on Real Talk: MDC

Question: What resources would such a space need--in terms of time, funding, people, institutional commitment, design choices, and so on--to make it effective?

Observation: This could be a powerful locus for exchanging college-going knowledge. As you reference in the description above, many of the obstacles to student success, particularly for non-traditional students (i.e., for whom the system has not been designed) arise from social and cultural (in addition to financial) barriers. For example, as both of my parents went to college, I had incredible advantages before I even started: I knew the language (what's a major vs. a minor? what are academic advisors? how do I fill-out the FAFSA?), support systems (I felt no threat from meeting with academic advisors and asking questions), protocols (how to find study places on campus, how to prepare notes). For students who are first-generation (and that's just one form of a disadvantage), the hurdles are higher for gaining this college-going knowledge. And it's not because anyone deserves anything more or is more apt to succeed, it's simply a factor of how the system is not designed for those with disadvantages. As such, solutions like Real Talk can provide the medium for transferring such knowledge, among affording other benefits.


Alex commented on Redesign the FAFSA

To be honest, that blog post highlights, rather than solves, the FAFSA problem. For what should ostensibly be an easy step (essentially duplicating a form), this post uses almost four pages of text, four sub-headers, confusing acronyms (FSA? EFC?), and jumps in and out of paragraphs to graphs to tables back to text. Yes, the concept is great, but something that is user-friendly should not take this kind of explanation. (Also, the DoE's website could use a website, as all of the text on the right-side is mind-numbing and hard to follow...but I digress.)

As for the Better Make Room Initiative, what an awesome idea! A simple yet creative portal that helps build a college-going identity, a powerful catalyst for attending college.


Alex commented on Redesign the FAFSA

Thanks for posting a link to the FAFSA!

As to your second part: I absolutely agree we need new frameworks for conceptualizing the higher ed experience, including that financial, operational, and legal models used to deliver education. My goal with this idea was to propose something that is easy to implement (i.e., specifically does not dramatically alter the dynamics of higher ed in the US), can have a massive impact (re: the thousands of low- and middle-income earners who never complete a FAFSA, let alone those would otherwise never consider college for cost reasons), and is cost-neutral (costing only the time of the redesign itself).

Although not a systemic change, small-step/high-impact efforts like redesigning the FAFSA can beautifully complement efforts like Hacking a Credential (e.g., using financial aid funds to design your own college-workforce pathway that includes MOOCs and bootcamps) and A New Financial Model for Higher Education (