Are You Ready for Some Football? Your College Is.

football-quarterback

Doc Seidman Says….

….On November 23, 1984, with his Boston College team losing to The University of Miami 45-41, and 28 seconds left in the game, B.C. quarterback Doug Flutie threw a desperation, “Hail Mary” pass into the end zone. Wide receiver Gerard Phelan caught the pass, untouched, for a game winning touchdown.

More than a victory on the football field, it was a win for the Admissions Office at Boston College. It is speculated that this improbable pass and catch caused applications to increase at Boston College by 16% in 1984 and another 12% in 1985. Whether or not this was completely due the football game has been debated over the years but there is no doubt that this so-called “Flutie Effect” led to an increase in the awareness of the college as well as a boost to student morale.

Can a football game really do this? Can a successful play on the field impact the admissions processes that take place off the field? More interesting to ponder, can it make a school better?

Yes, yes, and yes.  The national exposure of a good sports team has been shown to significantly increase the amount of future applications. This brings with it an increase of “good” applications from potentially good students. More applications mean the school’s acceptance rate will go down, which is a metric most schools like. For example, if during a typical year a college receives 10,000 applications and accepts 2,500 students, it will have a 25% acceptance rate. After a year of winning football, the school now gets 15,000 applications yet still only accepts 2,500 new students. This acceptance rate is now a significantly lower 16.7%, demonstrating on paper at least, the school is more selective.

Increased selectivity in the student body will have other desirable effects. If selectivity means accepting students who are more prepared for the college experience, it should positively impact both retention and completion rates. These, too, are good things.  It can also bring about more advanced classes and programs directed by more renowned faculty. The college wins again.

The glory doesn’t end with football either. A successful basketball program, even for a year or two, can fill up the school’s coffers. Gonzaga, Butler, Appalachian State, and Florida Gulf Coast University all seemed to benefit from the unexpected success of their sports teams. The so called “Flutie Effect” crossed over to college basketball, giving the students, faculty and staff something to cheer for, and the schools, some much cherished national exposure.

College football is also big business. Sponsorships, television money, ticket sales, and the like can bring in some major bucks. In 2015, it was reported that over $9 billion was generated amongst the 231 Division I NCAA schools. That’s much more money than programs in Chemistry, Literature, Engineering, and Hospitality brought in…. combined!

Is there a downside? Can a college football program do more harm than good? Possibly. For starters, it is important to keep in mind that having and maintaining a football team is expensive. If a college does not have an “elite” football program, its median loss due to football is around $3 million a year. With only around half of all Division I programs showing profitability, that’s a lot of colleges losing money on the football field.

Furthermore, it’s easy to be critical about the commitment to academics big-time football players, or other athletes, may have. There have been many allegations about players not going to classes and having work done by other students. Student football players are often enrolled in easy programs, taking easy courses with “understanding” professors. These types of incidents can harm the credibility of the school often causing outrage by the non-supporters of big time football.

Whereas there is obviously reason for concern, these incidents can occur with any student, not just those playing a big-time sport. Cheating students come in all types and are not just limited to those who can run a 40-yard dash in six seconds or less.

As an old-fashioned academic purist back in the day, I questioned the wisdom of a big-time football program. To me, it seemed to de-emphasize academics while emphasizing athletics. Wasn’t college all about academics? What value would a football team bring?

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Win or lose, a sports program has much to offer. Almost overlooked in the hoopla is the fact that “involved” students tend to be the happiest amongst the college population. It doesn’t matter whether it’s involvement the Chess Club, the Knitting Club, the Marching Band or the football team, those students who are engaged in some type of out- of-the-class activity are amongst the happiest. Additionally, win or lose, participation in a team sport is good thing. Aside from skills in leadership, followership, and teamwork, it looks great on a resume too. Many hiring companies will often carefully consider the student athlete resume and move their resume to the front of the pile. Playing a sport in college is also great on an interview, and of course, many will say it makes you a better person overall.

So, to big time football program skeptics out there; get over it. College and football seem to go together like…. college and football. Colleges love their football team, win or lose. A strong college football program can not only bring in more applicants, it serves as a great Saturday afternoon diversion. Students can take a break from their weekday routines, let their hair down, and have some fun, so to speak. They will even sit outside in the cold, rain, wind or snow, and cheer their team on. Colleges almost always seem to showcase their team and stadium on a college tour, and many schools even allow students to attend games for little or no charge.

Are you ready for some football? You had better be. Turns out that most colleges and their students certainly are.

Beer and the American College Student

beer

Doc Seidman Says…

…..During a recent campus tour of a large university in Germany, we wandered into the campus store and couldn’t help but notice the large selection of beer (and cigarettes and condoms) available for student purchase. In fact, we also couldn’t help but notice students walking around campus or taking a break, sitting on a bench under a tree leisurely sipping a can of beer.

As every American college student knows, the legal drinking age in the U.S. is 21. Almost everyone also knows that in most other countries, Germany being one of them, the drinking age is lower than 21. Be that as it may, it is still rather shocking to see beer being sold in the college campus store and even more shocking to see it being consumed openly around campus.

To no one’s surprise, the legal drinking age of 21 does not prevent American college students from drinking beer. Unlike their German student counterparts, you do not see American college students lazing around the campus casually and openly enjoying a “cold one.”  And you rarely, if ever, see rows and rows of beer being displayed and sold in the campus store. A cold beer for a typical college student remains the “forbidden fruit” so to speak.

For those underage college students who defy the law and drink beer, Bud Light is their number one choice. It is the beer of choice for more than one out of every four underage beer consumers. Budweiser comes in at number two. Putting the two brands together gives Budweiser products a commanding 40% share of the underage beer drinking market. Coors and Corona come in a very distant third and fourth.

It is difficult to pinpoint the exact amount of beer a typical college student consumes. Beer companies do not publicly disclose their research on underage drinking. Marketing professionals have claimed that around 10 to 15% of beer sold in the US is being consumed by people not old enough to drink it. Beer companies in America therefore face a marketing conundrum: How to advertise to a user of their product, in this case an underage drinker, who legally shouldn’t be consuming their product? They do want their business though. Like most companies, Disneyland and McDonald’s being notable examples, Budweiser and the other big beer companies want to create lifelong customers.  Marketers refer to this as “cradle to grave” marketing. Those cold Budweiser’s you start drinking in high school or college should remain your brand of choice throughout your beer drinking life. They truly want your business as early as they can get it.

How college students consume beer is a different story. Whereas college students in Germany can enjoy a beer for lunch or in an outdoor public area, his or her American counterparts must hide their beer consumption, imbibing it primarily indoors. The German student might slowly sip his or her can of beer while the underage American student chugs it down quickly. One, two, three, or more beers might be guzzled before stepping out to attend a party or event. This binge drinking approach is quite common on the American college campus, but not so much overseas.

Beer drinking at college sporting events, mainly football and basketball, is also popular. Whereas the sale of beer is banned at NCAA sanctioned postseason events, colleges are on their own as to whether or not to allow beer to be sold during the non-postseason NCAA sanctioned events. This, too, poses a conundrum. This time for colleges as they know most of their students aren’t allowed to drink beer, however, they can sure use the money a beer sponsorship brings. Whereas there is an obvious reluctance to promote beer in front of underage drinkers, beer companies are all too happy to showcase their brands and throw money at the schools that promote their products. Lately, colleges seem all too happy to accept it. Slowly, and quietly, more big schools are taking the money and inking partnerships with various beer brands.

Why many college students drink beer is another important question. Like other vices in college, cigarettes, drugs, and unprotected sex most notably, drinking beer is considered to be another rite of passage. The newfound freedom of being away from home creates a culture of curiosity and experimentation. If you haven’t already been sampling beer in high school, you are likely to give it a try in college. College depression is also on the rise, and beer, and alcohol in general, are often used by students to self-medicate. Even if students are not formally diagnosed with anxiety or depression, drinking is a way to cope with the wide assortment of problems college life brings about. This could involve anything from failing a test or a class, having trouble with friends and/or roommates, or anything else in between. Are you having a bad day? Your good friends at Budweiser are here to help.

Like many other collegiate activities, certain colleges are more popular beer drinking establishments than others. Results tend to vary based on who is doing the research, but some schools tend to appear on just about everyone’s list. They include: University of Wisconsin, Madison (no surprise as Wisconsin produces a lot of beer), Tulane University in New Orleans (not really a surprise either if you have ever been to New Orleans), West Virginia University, Penn State University, and Johnson & Wales University, where chefs and beer seem to go together. The top states for underage drinking are reported to be North Dakota, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Rhode Island. The states with the lowest estimates of underage drinking include North Carolina, Tennessee and Utah. So, if you are a parent, and you want to do what you can to keep your college bound son or daughter away from alcohol consumption, encourage them to attend school in Utah, where state laws make it much harder to purchase beer.

It is safe to say that the relationship the American college student has with beer does not appear to be going away anytime soon, no matter what the drinking age. Perhaps over time our county’s attitude toward underage drinking and beer will reflect that of our German counterparts. At that point, we can honestly declare, “This Bud’s for You.” In the meantime, it’s really not.

Wrap It Up

condoms

Doc Seidman Says……

…..Although sex in college is a popular activity, it is not as popular as most might people think. A 2015 study by New York Magazine found that 41% of women and 49% of men denied being sexually active in college. Additionally, almost 40% of those studied claimed to be virgins. What is high, however, is the percent of college students who will contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD).  Studies put that estimate around 20 to 25% of the total student population with some students getting an STD more than once.

Let’s face it; college can be fun; too much fun at times. But too much fun can also have consequences. As the English poet William Blake famously said, “Fun I love. But too much fun is of all things the most loathsome.” Loathsome indeed. Too much fun in college can lead to a host of loathsome woes ranging anywhere from extreme hangovers to contracting an STD.

If your plan is to have a lot of fun in college- while maintaining your commitment to academics, no doubt- be somewhat mindful of the consequences. If the fun end-game is to get to “third base” and beyond, so to speak, whether you are a guy or gal, don’t forget the all-important condom. For as unsexy as condoms can be, they are an integral part of staying healthy while in college.

But condom usage among the college population is down too. Studies vary on this but they generally agree that around 50% of students claiming to have an active sex life do not use condoms. It is worth noting that the “50%” represents those students claiming to have the more “traditional” sexual experiences. Condom usage percent decreases for the “less traditional” experiences. (For more information and better definition of “less traditional” look it up yourself.) Whichever way- traditional or nontraditional-  those percentages are too low; college sexual health experts claim.

The reasons for low condom usage vary. Many blame high schools for failing to provide their students with proper sex education. Sex Ed curriculum in high school is noted to be on the decline, people who study this claim. Furthermore, close to 90% of high schools allow parents to exclude their children from these classes if they do not agree with the curriculum. And of the schools that teach Sex Ed, 30% do not allegedly teach proper condom usage procedures. This is all unfortunate as many would say that sexual education in high school is not just important, it is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak.

As we all well know, whereas high schools are traditionally easy to blame, also falling in the blame game column is the higher than normal usage of drugs and alcohol in college. Over 45% of binge drinking college freshmen claim to not even consider using a condom, or other type of contraceptive, when engaging in sexual activity. Many of those non-condom using binge drinkers go on contract an STD.  Sexual health experts- as well as our parents- all agree: don’t binge drink.

But before we all give up beer pong, we need to know if condom wearing completely prevents getting a sexually transmitted disease. Sex health experts want to remind everyone that some diseases such as herpes are passed along through skin contact during sex. Even if you do wear a condom, it is still possible to get herpes. But condoms do, however, minimize the risk of getting an STD. It is universally agreed that wearing a condom is a much better option than not wearing one, especially if there are multiple partners.

At this point a college parent might ask, “What more can I do to help my son or daughter maintain good sexual health while in college?”

One answer might be in choosing a college that has a good sexual health reputation. (Yes, this data exists too. College sex research seems boundless.) A recent analysis based on CDC STD reporting calculated a campus sexual health index for most U.S. colleges. The findings were based on three factors: Access to contraception, average campus sexual assault rate, and public STD data from the surrounding region. The colleges with the best sexual health reputations were Oregon State University, Boise State University, and Florida Atlantic University. The worst scores went to Marquette University, Vanderbilt University, and University of Louisiana at Monroe.

Do these findings mean anything? Do they influence admissions? Do the sexually healthy schools brag about this during their campus tours?  I would imagine these results are meaningful, however, it is doubtful they influence admissions. Some of the schools on the “bad list” such Vanderbilt and the University of Pennsylvania are highly selective. I would imagine students might be happy get accepted, sexual health reputation be damned. As for hearing about this on a campus tour…. prognosis doubtful. The subject of sex rarely, if ever, comes up.

So, what can we conclude? For one, the vice industry seems to be alive in well in the college community (sorry, parents). Cigarette smoking is up, as is the percent of students having unprotected sex. Reported cases of sexually transmitted diseases are also on the rise. Binge drinking remains popular, as is the use of drugs of all kinds. Research shows that healthier students are happier students. Happier students tend to retain and graduate. There’s little doubt about that. Clearly, college students can benefit by adopting healthier lifestyles.

And that’s a wrap.

$166.84

textbooks~2

Doc Seidman Says…..

….One hundred and sixty-six dollars and eighty-four cents can buy you a lot of things. It can get you 36 Frappuccinos® at Starbucks. Do you like Chick-fil-A?  Twenty-Five Chick-fil-A Chicken Deluxe Sandwiches are yours for that price. You can head over to 7-11 46 times for a mega Slurpee.  Guys, you can take your girl to a movie 18 times, or, surprise-  get 19 buckets of large popcorn.  For those of you not “borrowing” someone’s password, $166.84 can buy you 15 months of Netflix. (No charge for the chill, so I’m told.) More strikingly, $166.84 buys you one class worth of textbooks, on average, at your college bookstore. Now there’s a real surprise!

In 2015, Priceonomics, an online data analytics company, studied textbook pricing from the University of Virginia.  They reviewed prices from the 31 most common majors and came up with an average textbook price, per class, of $166.84. Of the 31 majors, textbooks for those studying Economics carried the biggest price tag at $317 while African American Studies had the lowest textbook burden for students at $80 a class.  Various college prep websites calculate an annual textbook expense at $1,200 a year. If a typical student takes 30 credits a year, the textbook cost per credit is $40. For a typical three credit class, that comes out to $120. If we factor in that some classes might not require a textbook, the $120 per class is most likely more like $150-$160.

The first question often asked is why textbooks are so expensive? A 2015 report in Business Insider claimed that because there are only a handful of textbook publishers, and many professors require specific editions, supply is limited and demand is high. Publishers truly have a lock on the market. Additionally, many courses now bundle the textbook purchase with other online resources that are available only with the purchase of an access code. Access expires at the end of the semester forcing the next group of students to repeat the purchase cycle. The rise of textbook “bundling” eliminates the used and rental books market which offer textbooks at a much lower price.

Apparently, students aren’t taking this lying down, or even sitting down. Studies show that 65% of students won’t purchase textbooks at some time throughout their college career. And who can blame them? One hundred and sixty-six dollars and eighty-four cents can buy things much more appealing than textbooks.

Sadly, this forces students into a difficult decision. Purchase the required books and resources or get by without them?  Students must reconcile not buying the required textbook with the degree in which it may impact their grade. College students are faced with enough difficult decisions, however, this one seems particularly unfair. With anxiety and stress on the rise within the college student population, the textbook dilemma doesn’t make college life any easier.

There are certainly alternatives. When it is possible to do so, students can save a great deal of money by buying second-hand textbooks or even renting them. Third party sites found on line also offer less expensive options. But again, many professors now try and get around this by bundling important class resources with the purchase of the textbook, thereby wiping away this savings. If you think about it, this is downright mean.

Another dissatisfier lies with professors who write and require a textbook they themselves have written. This can certainly be a double-edged sword as on one hand, they can direct the course precisely from the words they have written in the textbook. On the other hand, many students feel they are being punished by these same professors if they don’t buy the book. That too is a major dissatisfier.

When I visit various college bookstores, there does seem to be one category of textbooks in demand, at any price. Those would be the books required for any class about sexual health, trends, and education. Sex is certainly a popular activity in college and sitting in an academic classroom learning about the subject is becoming almost as popular. Aside from the various elective classes, many colleges now offer majors in Sexual Studies. This includes large universities such as Ohio State, Northwestern, University of Chicago, Yale, and Dartmouth (College), to name a few. I don’t know for sure but I would venture to say that the $135.28 students plunk down for a copy of Introducing the New Sexual Studies, 2nd edition, is a bargain. College bookstores probably struggle to keep Sex Matters: The Sexuality and Society Reader in stock, even at a price of $96.19. And if a student loan package pays for these textbooks, all the better. It’s Christmas in September.

As a professor, I didn’t teach Sexual Studies, I taught Marketing and Management. Those textbooks didn’t quite have the same appeal. Marketing for Hospitality and Tourism, 7th edition, by Phillip Kotler with a retail price of $171 didn’t quite have the same appeal as Sex Maters for College Students, or Essentials of Human Sexuality, at any price. Therefore, getting my students to purchase the Kotler book was uphill at best. I wanted my students to have the textbook but encouraged them to save money. I allowed them to rent books and even share books. I even allowed older editions and worked hard to not punish those students who did not have the most recent copy. To me, any textbook was better than no textbook.

Today’s college leaders and provosts are becoming more aware this is a problem. Some colleges now bundle e-textbooks into the tuition. Others now encourage faculty to provide less expensive options such as printed and bound class notes. There is also a growing movement to provide copyright-free, open-access textbooks. Unfortunately, only a small percent of schools have adopted this policy.

Until things change, students will continue to anguish over the battle between buying textbooks and having extra spending money. They must decide between fifteen months of Netflix and a few mega Slurpees, or one Kotler textbook. Hmmm…….

Join the Band (or something else)

trumpet

 

Doc Seidman Says…

…. There are many things you can do to help yourself while in college. You can learn how to study properly, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and make good friends. Perhaps the best thing you can do, however, is to join a club or organization.

Most college students have probably heard this advice ad nauseam, almost to the point of where they purposely don’t want to join anything out of spite. To some, being the “anti-involved” student is the desired choice. That is flawed thinking. College is all about training your brain to make smart, not flawed decisions. Therefore, make a smart decision and join something.

Being a part of a club or organization gets you involved with the campus community. It allows you to make some new friends and even have some fun. You become more engaged in your college experience which in turn makes you a happier student. Happy is good. Happy means you are going to come back to school each fall and (hopefully) graduate in a timely manner. Happy also means you will become a proud alum. This makes your college quite happy.

What to join? Most colleges, even those with a smaller student body, give you many options. They list them on their website and remind you of them when you take a college tour. Most prominently, there is athletics, both organized and recreational. Almost all colleges have some type of sporting event or activity you can get involved with. If you are not the sporty type, there is the student newspaper. Not the wordy type, there is drama or music. There are religious organizations; political organizations; service organizations, and activist organizations you can participate in. Many colleges offer a club based on your area of study. You can join the Physics Club, the Math Club, The Hospitality Club, The Spanish Club, Future Engineers, Future Accountants, Future Botanists, The Philosophy Club, and on and on. There are clubs and organizations for computer programmers, computer hackers, debaters, singers, dancers, and even magicians. But wait. The college you are joining doesn’t have a Magicians Club? You can probably start one. Almost all schools have a process for which you can start your own organization. Follow the proper steps and your club for magicians can magically appear.

When I was in college I joined the band; the marching band to be more specific (go ahead and laugh). Don’t chuckle too hard because it was the smartest thing I did while at college. I got to see new places as we travelled with the football team. I also made a ton of new friends; many of which I am still in contact with today, thirty plus years later. Being part of the band kept me engaged with the school and most certainly made me a happier student. When I had a tough day in the academic or residential world, my friends in the band were always there to pick me up. Looking back, it was probably the difference between graduating from Cornell University and transferring somewhere else.

Don’t be the “anti-involved” student. The “anti-involved” student is typically angry and bitter and won’t have the same degree of fun as their “involved” student counterparts. College is an important time in your life. Make the most of it. Be smart. Get involved. Join something.