Congratulations Graduate!

Mortorboard

Doc Seidman Says……

…….For college seniors, the month of May is something many have been waiting for.  The cold, blustery months of winter turn into the refreshing warmth of spring (except here in Florida), and college students throughout the country prepare to graduate. Graduation, or commencement, as it is called in academia, is an extraordinarily joyful time for students. And why not? They just spent the last four or so years sitting through tedious lectures, pretending to laugh at the professor’s boring jokes, and doing arduous class assignments. The thrill of walking across the commencement stage and throwing a mortarboard into the air in celebration is almost second to none. As a faculty member sitting in the audience, or as an administrator sitting on the stage, I, too was joyful and proud.

Some students learn the hard way that walking across the stage and celebrating with friends and family does not necessarily mean they have graduated. It simply means they have participated in the ceremony. The diploma comes sometime later, after the college has done its due diligence to make sure the graduation requirements have been fulfilled. It’s quite possible that there are students dressed in cap and gown, joyfully celebrating with their friends, who have yet to pass Statistics, or French, or Organic Chemistry, or Food Safety and Sanitation, or any other degree requirement. Don’t get too excited. It’s back to the classroom for you.

But for most everyone else, however, it is indeed a terrific accomplishment and a joyful time. It is something that will be with you forever and nobody can take away.

Unfortunately, many folks who start college don’t finish. In fact, recent statistics have shown that only 55% of four-year college students complete their degree within six years. At least 40% never graduate at all. If you are a student classified as a demographic minority, the chances of completing your college degree are even lower. Only thirty eight percent of African American students (46% of women and 35% of men) will complete their degree. Hispanic students do a bit better with a 46% completion rate. As a comparison, 62% of white students complete their degrees in six-years while Asian students perform the best with a 63% completion rate.

Are you the first in your family to go to college? Congratulations! But sadly, around half of you won’t finish. Do you come from a lower income family? Although government resources help, not having all the money you need is a significant hindrance as only 43% of you will graduate. Were you raised in a foster family? Your completion rate trails the entire field at only 14%.

There are many reasons for this. Money is perhaps the biggest one. Many underfunded students soon learn that they don’t have the resources to complete a four-year degree without an unwanted overwhelming debt burden. Many students get full and part time jobs while in college, but having multiple part-time jobs, or even just one full-time job, can be detrimental. The workplace culture soon supersedes the academic culture and next thing you know, classes are skipped, assignments are missed, and academic woes just pile on.

Since we are discussing money, not surprisingly, students attending private colleges have a better completion rate than their public-school counterparts (66% to 59%). Private schools, with a higher tuition and reduced class size, tend to be more nurturing. The professor may reach out to the students who seem to be fading away. Support services are more attentive too. The lines should be shorter to talk to whichever student support specialist is needed. It may not seem like much, but it helps.

The “For Profit” schools probably do more harm than good. For those of you, or someone you know, who is enticed by one of these heavily advertised universities, note that if you enroll, less than one in four of you will actually complete. They can also be expensive. Most “For Profits” make it easy to enroll and even easier borrow money. Whether or not you complete your degree, if you borrow money to  go there, or any other college, you need to pay it back. And if you fail to graduate and have a lot of debt….ouch! Not good.

Sorry to ruin the upcoming graduation party, but college can certainly be a case of “let the buyer beware.”  Whereas we would all like to think that attending college is certainly different than buying a used car, in many ways it is not. The buyer’s euphoria to find a good deal on a car might mask the deficiencies the used vehicle may have. It car might start out smoothly, but it is highly possible that as the years go on the flaws show themselves. And if you don’t thoroughly “check under the hood” before you buy it, the problems might arise more quickly.

Future college students and their families really need to “check under the hood” of the colleges they are considering attending. Check the graduation and retention rates. Investigate the advising systems in place. Kick the tires too while you are at it. Visit the campus. Talk to administrators and faculty. Make sure your future student will be well positioned to succeed and graduate. And perhaps most important, take a realistic view of the amount of debt that will be incurred. The truth may hurt, but a smart decision beforehand should help to prevent the pain of debt without graduation.

To the 50% or so that our truly graduating, all the best. Congratulations on your accomplishment. It’s a good one. Hopefully, the college taught you how to make smart decisions. Something that will serve you well in the years to come.

 

 

The Not So Big Sleep

tired

 

Doc Seidman Says….

….A recent world-class study by The National Sleep Foundation concluded that college aged students (18-25 years old) need seven to nine hours of sleep a night.  Studies also show that while some college students get plenty of good sleep, most fall about one to two hours short every night. That might not seem like a big deal but over the course of a week, a month, or a semester, it adds up.

It’s easy to see why. The college years are loaded with non-sleep activities such as academics, long hours at work so you can pay for college, and a healthy amount of socializing. Often, a good night’s sleep is just plain unattainable.

Walk around any college campus and you can see students catching up- or napping up- on the missing one to two hours of sleep in a variety of places. The college library is always a good place to observe many a student catching a few winks. Quiet spots can be found all over the library and even if you are not sleep deprived it is often hard to stay awake in such a peaceful setting. You might also see students snoozing away in a quiet corner of the recreation center, the dining hall, or any other hidden spot on campus.

Of course, many students wind up catching their zzzs in the college classroom. More often than not, you cannot blame them as the teacher is just plain boring. He or she drones on about European History, Organic Chemistry, or whatever else the average student doesn’t care much about, and dozing off can’t be avoided. Like the library, it’s tough for anyone to stay awake during those circumstances. Other times a long in-class movie- or even a short movie-  in a dark classroom will do the trick. Even if a student has every intention to watch the video, the combination of dialogue and a dark room changes the setting from attentive to siesta.

Ask any student, however, and they will tell you that they would prefer to do their sleeping in a nice comfortable bed and not an uncomfortable college desk. So, what’s preventing everyone from more bed sleeping and less campus catnaps? A major culprit would be the assortment of items college students typically consume. Foods many students consume regularly can interfere with the pleasant rhythms of a good night’s sleep.  Aside from sugar and grease, this would include the consumption of caffeinated beverages, energy drinks, and alcohol. These three beverages are practically “food groups” during the college years. They are hard to avoid. Other stimulants such as “speed,” be it prescription, over the counter, and/or from your local black-market dealer, contribute mightily to nighttime sleep deprivation as well. That’s almost a no-brainer. Even someone totally sleep deprived can tell you that.

Technology also plays a big part in collegiate insomnia. Any type of technology use within the hour before bedtime greatly reduces the chances of a restful night sleep. Sorry to say everyone, but this includes texting, sexting, and video games. Snapchat and Instagram are also no-nos. So is cramming to finish a paper. That is not good either so don’t cram. Get that paper done in a timely manner. Your professors can tell. Trust me.

The problems associated with sleep deprivation include an increase in mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Sadly, these issues are already all too common on campus. Physical health issues can also arise from sleep deprivation making you more prone to get sick. You can become irritated more easily and attentive listening becomes troublesome. Another popular college activity is impacted too. Less sleep impacts sexual activity, leading to not only less drive, but less enjoyment.

So, what’s a college student to do? Achieving the recommended daily dose of sleep is certainly something easier said than done. Aside from cutting back on Red Bull and Budweiser, sleep researchers will tell you to put your technology away before bedtime. Creating a sleep conducive environment can also help. Keep your room dark, comfortable and cool. Try- as best you can, to create a regular sleep routine. Avoid going to sleep too late and stay away from rich foods before bedtime. For those still smoking cigarettes, know that they, and all tobacco products, are stimulants and will force your body to stay awake rather than go to sleep. Scientists also recommend using your bed for sleep and sex only and avoid using as a substitute for furniture. If you live in a dorm and your bed is really your only furniture, I don’t know what to tell you. Good luck with that.

I can tell you that there is little doubt that a good night sleep has a positive relationship with good health. There is not much more important than that. Except, perhaps that students that get six hours or less of sleep a night have a lower G.P.A. than those who get eight or more hours. So, if you are having a hard time keeping up with your coursework, get more sleep out of the classroom than in it.

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.

Cigarette?

cigarette

Doc Seidman Says………

………When it comes to buying condoms and cigarettes, what’s the difference between the 1960’s and today?

Today, a customer walks into a drug store and says, “Give me a box of condoms!”…… and then whispers to the clerk, “Oh, and slip in a packet of cigarettes, too.”

Welcome to the year 2018, where sex is in and cigarette smoking is out.

Or, is it? While only 15.5% of U.S. adults admit to smoking cigarettes, that number is almost double for college students. So, what gives?

Cigarette smoking is still reported to be relatively popular in the college environment. There are several reasons for this. For one, many say that smoking cigarettes is considered a rite of passage in college. It is part of the newfound freedom being away from home brings. It’s right up there with drinking beer and pulling an all-nighter. Others claim the social aspect of smoking is what starts them, and keeps them lighting up. They say that smokers can bond with other smokers as they stand outside in the cold, puffing away.  Walking outside a bar or restaurant and joining another smoker in friendly conversation is easy to do. Asking for a cigarette or match gets the conversation started and sows the seeds of a special bond.

Also, many people, women most notably, use cigarettes as an appetite suppressant and a useful step in weight control. Others think it’s cool. Some use it as an excuse to step away from a dull conversation. The thought being that stepping away to light and smoke a cigarette might be a better alternative than hearing about how well Fred did on the Chemistry test. Some students state that cigarette smoking reduces anxiety. It can be an excuse for a study break, a way to combat boredom, and/or a way to relax after a sex romp. For many, however, cigarette smoking is just plain addictive.

Interestingly, half of the 33% of college smokers don’t consider themselves to be habitual smokers and declare that they will give up the habit after college. Not surprisingly, this doesn’t happen. As any habitual smoker will tell you, giving up the habit is easier said than done.

Colleges often try and help students quit, but many anti-smoking advocates feel they do not do enough. Obviously, it’s in the school’s interest to wean students off cigarettes. Like any environment, a healthy population is a happy population. (And yes, not smoking cigarettes is healthier than smoking cigarettes.) Colleges host anti- smoking drives and wellness clinics. They make the campus tobacco free, forcing smokers to the fringe of the campus to light up. They provide smoking cessation classes, prominently display anti-smoking posters and distribute flyers. Some colleges have begun promoting anti-smoking apps such as QuitNet and SmokLog. Many even make nicotine replacement therapy such as patches and gums available at no or low cost through the college insurance plan.

Of course, cigarette smoking is only one aspect of tobacco use on campus. Chewing tobacco, vaping, and cigar smoking are becoming more popular. For every student who manages to quit cigarettes, someone else arrives on campus seemingly taking their place, vape pipe in tow.

It’s hard to believe now, but a generation ago, smoking cigarettes was an accepted part of the classroom experience. Thirty or so years ago, ashtrays could be found on classroom desks. Students were free to light up and puff away while the professor was discussing Shakespeare, Chaucer, or Nixon. Students could toke away on a Marlborough while reviewing the Periodic Table of Elements without fear of violating any school rule or policy. And if an ashtray wasn’t provided, a Styrofoam cup, Coca-Cola can, or leftover baked potato from lunch worked just fine.

Professors also used to stand in the front of the class and smoke. I’m guessing many a prof took a deep drag off a Raleigh to not only stay focused on their lecture material, but to manage the anguish over those students who were not focused on the lecture material. All this gave real meaning to the term “smoked filled room.”  To see that scene played out today in an American classroom would be downright comical. Clearly, the ashtray business is nowhere near as strong as it used to be (and baked potatoes are relegated back to consumption, only).

A generation ago, the consumer was bombarded with cigarette advertisement. Cigarette promotion seemed to show up everywhere, even in the student newspaper. Moreover, cigarette companies made their presence known on campus with lavish displays and free samples. Joe Camel was more in demand than your textbook author. But as just about all of us older folks know, public policy has shifted, bringing with it changes in how the tobacco companies can target their consumers. Joe Camel is out; your textbook author is in; sort of.

Which brings us back to cigarettes vs condoms. As our opening riddle points out, cigarettes and condoms have apparently shifted positions. Whereas free cigarettes where commonly distributed to college students a generation ago, today, free cigarettes are out, and free condoms are in. In place of Joe Camel is Carl Condom. Who saw that one coming?

Whereas the distribution of free cigarettes was shown to increase the number of smokers, can the same be true for condoms? We know sex in college is popular, but is it any safer?

Sex and College

birds and bees

Doc Seidman Says…..

…..There’s an old joke that goes:

One day a girl said to her friend, “I wish I had a nickel for every boy who has asked me out.”

“Wow, said the friend, “You would have enough to use a public bathroom.”

Despite the acerbically-charged honesty from the mean-spirited friend, romance and sex are important topics in the college student arena. Researchers from Ohio State University have found that male college students think about sex 19 times a day while female student think about it ten times daily. That’s probably much more often than the times students think about the chemistry homework or the teacher’s corny jokes. Thinking of sex consumes a fair amount of a college student’s mental energy. (Perhaps teachers should tell corny sex jokes? Hmmmm…)

College sex is a multi-faceted, complicated subject.  There is the “pleasant” side which involves a conceptual relationship between partners versus the more “unpleasant” side when the relationship is not conceptual. As I like to keep my blog posts warm-hearted and relatively controversial free, this post will stick to the topic of conceptual sex.

In doing my “on line” research, I came across several somewhat-random facts which should be of interest to college students. Whereas sex can certainly be a complicated subject, it is an important subject too, especially if it is consuming so much brain space. Truth be told; however, I am writing this for selfish reasons. I would like to attract more readers to my blog. I promise to keep this post within a PG13 rating. Don’t stop reading though.  In fact, encourage your friends to follow.

Like the joke at the top of the post, many people have a self-possessed misconception about their romantic life. (Either that or they have heartless friends.)  Friends often brag to friends, or anyone else in earshot about their robust promiscuity. They may not be telling the truth. A 2013 study at Ohio State University- which apparently likes to study sex-  found that both men and women were likely to lie about their sextual behavior.

For those looking for that special someone or occasional hookup, despite all of today’s technology most students still prefer meeting their partners the old-fashioned way, through friends or shared interests. A recent survey of 3,500 college students done by Adobo, the apartment hunting app- and not Ohio State University, surprisingly- found that only 4% of college students use dating apps for dating. Students claim to use the dating apps more for entertainment and ego boosting, feeling better about themselves, apparently. The dating apps can work well, however, for the purpose they were created: dating. Example: the founder of Match.com, Gary Kremen, lost his girlfriend to a man she met on Match.com. Ouch!

On a more upbeat side, sex has been shown to have medicinal benefits. Sex can burn off between one hundred to two hundred calories. Take that, fitness buffs! It is also a way to relieve, not cause headaches. And it is claimed that sex can make your skin glow and your hair appear shinier.

Sex is also good for your mental health. It can reduce blood pressure, increase self-esteem, and make you feel and look younger. And get this, a 2016 study in the Personality and Social Psychology Journal linked regular sex with improved analytical thinking. The rush of blood flowing to the brain during sex brings extra neurons and oxygen, boosting intellectual stimulation. Too bad sex is not allowed during those difficult math exams. Whose calculus was that?

For those college students on the less sexually active side of things, fear not. You are not at a disadvantage. Whereas everyone is talking about sex in college, many are still not “doing it.” A 2015 study by New York Magazine found that 41% of women and 49% of men stated that they were not sexually active in college. In fact, 40% were self-proclaimed virgins. Recent research found that there are more 20-year old virgins now than there were in the late 1950s.

Sex habits are certainly changing. A study in The Journal of Adolescent Health found that college women now prefer to have sex with a boyfriend, or someone they know well, rather than a casual hookup. That number is down from the previous “Gen X” demographic which was hooking up with much more frequency. Furthermore, less people are getting married while in college or shortly thereafter. The average age for getting married is 27 for women and 29 for men, much older than they were a generation ago.

Finally, a random college sex fact to get the conversation started at the dining hall tonight. Women with PhDs are twice as likely to have a one-night stand than those with only bachelor’s degrees. I guess more people are now seeing the doctor after all.

I’ll just leave that there. More to come.