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BLACK OUT Does “acting Black” hinder student achievement? By Maya Brooks

Because I was smart, I was called White girl, book-

worm, nerd and geek. It didn’t help that I wore glasses.

Nearly every day after school, I read every book I could at the library or made crafts with my grandmother who lived down the street from my Catholic all-girl’s high school. But on the days I didn’t wait out the two hours to ride home with my mother from work, I had to catch the public transit bus. That automatically meant torture. “Yeah, there go them Catholic school girls,” the boys sitting in the back of the bus would shout out. “Just look at them with all those books.” “Yeah, they real smart.” continued on page 14

The Great DEBATE Choose your words carefully if you expect to win page 6


Making It EMU Student entrepreneur grows web agency, funds scholarship page 4

DPS student awards total $77.4 million and are growing page 8 UrbanED • April 2012 1

Introducing UrbanED ach fall thousands of excited high school graduates leave the familiarity of their secondary school stomping grounds and embark on the journey of higher learning. Choosing a college is likely one of the most important decisions they’ve made to date. But once the decision is made, the transition to college life can be challenging, exhilarating and confusing for students and parents alike. Unfortunately, this transition is proving to be much more taxing on African American students and in many cases the obstacles to success become insurmountable. Within the next decade is it expected that 90% of all jobs will require skills beyond those gained in high school. However, reports from the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education state the enrollment to graduation rate of black students is only 43 percent. Couple those facts and a crisis-in-the-making emerges.

THE BEST WAY TO GO FROM A TO B IS THROUGH THE D. It may be close to theaters, museums and sports venues but as Michigan’s only urban research university, it’s far from the average learning experience. 877-WSU-INFO

In response to this troubling statistic the Michigan Chronicle introduces UrbanED, an informative magazine designed to provide information on applying to, selecting, transitioning and succeeding in college. Written with the student in mind, UrbanED offers a new read on what’s real and relevant to college-bound students — from college prep to campus life and all things in between. As a parent of two children who will be college-bound much sooner than I’d like to admit, these issues resonate with me personally. With parents just like me in mind, UrbanED will also serve as a resource for parents. Published quarterly, this magazine will also address parentcentric topics such as financial aid, campus security, and advice for helping your student stay in school. The more information our students have about the realities of life after high school; the more likely they will be successful. I hope that UrbanED will become one of the useful resources in preparing students—and their parents—for that success.

AIM HIGHER Hiram E. Jackson, Interim Publisher, Michigan Chronicle

2 UrbanED • April 2012

These fields guarantee constant employment and income

Fab Five Field$ The top 11 highest-paying jobs projected to add at least 100 slots annually through 2018 all require a college degree

by Ron French | Special to UrbanED

The inspiration behind UrbanED O

ur community faces a tremendous challenge to improve the self-esteem and motivation of our students. We cannot deny that Detroit has its share of image problems. However, many of those image problems cast an unnecessary and unfair shadow over its students. This statement is as true today as when we originally made it more 20 years ago when we launched the Chronicle’s student-written MC Timz section, which was dedicated to breaking down the stereotypes regarding the achievements and abilities of urban students, as well as providing an unprecedented platform for students to express themselves. It worked. Many of MC Timz’s student writers won full academic scholarships, earned undergraduate and graduate degrees and are now in mid and senior-level corporate posts making lasting contributions to our community. Something that good bears duplicating and that’s why we originated Urban UrbanED, the next generation of Chronicle Does acting Black media products aimed at hinder student achievement? supporting students in urban centers, particularly Detroit. DPS Making It The Great COLLEGE LIFE



By Maya Brooks

Because I was smart, I was called white girl, bookworm, nerd and geek. It didn’t help that I wore glasses.

Nearly every day after school, I read every book I could at the library or made crafts with my grandmother who lived down the street from my Catholic all-girl’s high school. But on the days I didn’t wait out the two hours to ride home with my mother from work, I had to catch the public transit bus. That automatically meant torture. “Yeah, there go them Catholic school girls,” the boys sitting in the back of the bus would shout out. “Just look at them with all those books.” “Yeah, they real smart.” continued on page 13


Student entrepreneur grows web agency, funds scholarship

SCHOLARSHIPS -Awards total $77.4 million – and are growing

In addition to serving as an education guide, UrbanED will provide students a communications platform to tell the stories of their challenges, transitions and triumphs. We want students to know your words carefully if you expect to win

Can’t stand the sight of blood? Maybe you would prefer being a financial analyst. Not good with numbers? Think about oil and gas. The job outlook in Michigan is projected to remain tight through 2018, according to the Bridge analysis of federal data. But among the dark economic clouds are occupations expected to add thousands of jobs, many of which pay salaries above the state average. There are overall trends, such as the fact that most new jobs are in health care and financial services, and the fastest growth is in the oil industry. The biggest trend, though, is how much education those new jobs will require.





tudents looking to increase their odds of landing a full-time job with above-average pay should head directly to a hospital, according to a study conducted by Bridge Magazine, an editorial partner of UrbanED.

UrbanED • April 2012 1

continued on page 5

The top 11 highest-paying jobs projected to add at least 100 slots annually through 2018 all require a college degree, according to Bridge’s analysis. By contrast, among occupations projected to shrink, only one (police officers) requires post-high school education. Hot jobs include: Financial analysts and advisers: Projected to add 3,563 jobs per year through 2018, a 49 percent increase. These jobs pay an average of $44,928. Securities, commodities and financial service agents will add more than 2,500 jobs per year, with average pay of $46,000 a year.

Healthcare practitioners and technicians: Go into health care and you’ll find a job. The workers who perform x-rays and ultrasounds, for example, are expected to grow by almost 9,000 a year, with an average hourly pay of $32.83. Registered nurses are another of numerous health occupations expected to grow rapidly as baby boomers’ bodies begin to give out. Registered nurses take home an average of $63,773 per year. The number of personal and home health care aides is expected to grow by 29 percent (average pay = $19,781), and physician assistants ($86,528) will increase 26 percent. Engineers and architects: This field is expected to grow only 2 percent overall, but because of retirements and people leaving the occupation, there will be a projected 4,000 job openings per year, with an average pay of $70,762. Petroleum industry jobs: Petroleum is a relatively small industry, but oil and gas extraction occupations are projected to be the fastest growing in Michigan. And with job earnings above the state average, it’s good work — if you can get it. Paralegals and legal assistants: Spend $100,000 going to law school and you may not find a job, Spend less than a third of that, and you can make almost $50,000 a year as a paralegal. Jobs for legal assistants and paralegals are projected to grow by 28 percent over the period. Editor’s Note: To learn more about our editorial partner Bridge Magazine visit: UrbanED • April 2012 3

Meet your new study buddy...

Making It Student entrepreneur grows web agency, funds scholarship

By Debra Johnson


entaro Roy was just 10 years old when he began tinkering with computers and discovered he had a knack for designing websites. A decade later, Roy founded a business, Kentaro Web Design + SEO. A junior majoring in marketing at Eastern Michigan University, he has also established an annual scholarship at the University.

As a teenager, Roy worked as a freelancer on a variety of web design projects utilizing search engine optimization (SEO), a process that helps websites get more hits through search engines. He also came to realize that local real estate firms needed more Internet marketing support. He had found his niche, and in late 2010 he set up his own company helping real estate firms convert web visitors into sales. Less than two years later, Kentaro Web Design + SEO reports annual sales of more than $150,000. Roy takes pride in the fact that four of his five employees are Eastern students or graduates. “We’re all about continuing to build a relationship with the University, our customers and the community,” he says. In that spirit of giving back to the community and his alma matter Eastern Michigan University (EMU), Roy took an unusual step for a student—he set up a scholarship fund to help students pursue education in cyber security. The scholarship will award $500 to a student in the Information Assurance Program of the College of Technology. He chose this program, he says, “because the program is relatively new and does not have much funding or resources for students yet.” For more information about Roy’s company, visit the website: Editor’s note: Debra Johnson works in EMU’s Media Relations Department. 4 UrbanED • April 2012

By Andrew Losen

Chances are, “studying for the ACT” doesn’t fall in your top 5

ways you like to spend your free time. More likely, it’s not even in the top hundred. But a new web app could change all that. Meet Grockit. Grockit is a new social media centered app that allows you to collaborate and compete with friends while studying for tests like the ACT, SAT, GMAT and other tests required for college admissions. Linked with your Facebook account, Grockit lets you show off how much you’ve studied, create and join study groups online with friends, and earn and display achievements on your profile. But Grockit is more than just a fun, interactive way to prepare. It also adapts to your personal learning needs, allowing you to focus on weak areas and improve your scores quickly. Grockit gives students who prefer a more hands-on approach access to online video tutorials focused on exactly what they are learning, matches students with others who share their learning preferences and offers real-time support. Perhaps most helpful with Grockit is the access you have to its network of exceptional tutors. Grockit helps you find the right instructor with its student ratings and testimonials, as well as a transparent presentation of each tutor’s own performance. Grockit is free to try for 3 days, and only $29.99 per month after that. Compared to the expensive and relatively dry test preparation courses available today, this is tough to beat. After all, what’s the use of buying test preparation materials if you don’t actually use them?

Stemming the

Brain Drain

Gov. Rick Snyder’s attempts to halt the

tidal wave of Michigan graduates who ‘learn and leave’ may pay dividends with the launch of the Career Matchmaker and Investment Calculator on the state’s job bank site:



The site offers cool tools designed to help students see whether their career choices can cut it in today’s real world economy. Check out the Career Matchmaker, which provides tools to: • Match your desired skill to industries, occupations or schools • Identify your current skill sets and how they are needed in different occupations • Learn about the demand of skill sets in different industries • Learn more about training opportunities, the cost, the potential and the return on investing in your future • Find employers for a particular industry in your area • Learn about occupation wage information and growth for various industries or skill sets • Gain key information for your job search which identifies industries and areas in high demand. Use the Career Investment Calculator to determine the value of your educational investment and to project your future income. The numbers may surprise you.

Inspiration continued from page 3 know that we welcome their comments, contributions and, most importantly, that we applaud their efforts.

Jackie Berg

Editor’s note: UrbanED creator, Jackie Berg, is the chief marketing officer of the Michigan Chronicle Newspaper. If you would like to contribute to UrbanED contact Jackie at:


WE ARE Putting Education First since 1849.

Design Director: Gail Green Design Contributor: James Barnhill Editor: Andrew Losen UrbanED • April 2012 5

National debate team participants met with NASA Administrator and former astronaut Charles Bolden

Debaters, who compete with as much valor and vigor as top professional athletes, must conduct exhaustive research in order to represent their platform and present a convincing argument capable of persuasively supporting their position.

The Great Debate

Choose your words carefully if you expect to win. T

By Jackie Berg

hat’s the advice of Detroit students Kwaishon Bell and Demetrius Heard of Loyola High School and Rayvon Dean and Deja Valrie of University Prep Academy, who emerged victors following a fierce 14-school debate team challenge earlier this year. The two 2-member teams went on to represent Detroit at the 2012 Urban Debate National Championship Tournament held in Washington, D.C. last week.


Debaters, who compete with as much valor and vigor as top professional athletes, must conduct exhaustive research in order to represent their platform and present a convincing argument capable of persuasively supporting their position. Debates can last for hours, according to Bell, a sixteen-yearold senior who described his City Championship battle: “By the end of the day, Saturday, I was exhausted,” said Bell. “But I still had one more round of debate to go, so I set my mind to win and went for it.”


Debate often levels the playing field. Dean and Valrie, both sophomores at University Prep, qualified to attend the National tournament as incoming freshmen last year.

6 UrbanED • April 2012

“These teams put in countless hours, after school practices and grueling weekend tournaments,” note the coaches, who had no prior debate or coaching experience prior to accepting their (coaching) positions. “Both Kathy and Sharon are incredibly devoted, intelligent, and professional,” states the Detroit Urban Debate League’s Vice Chair, John Lawson. “The students’ success comes as a direct result of what they put into the teams.”

Kwaishon Bell and Demetrius Heard

The Loyola and University Prep teams, who competed against top teams representing 24 cities across the United States in the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues (NAUDL) National Debate Championship, debated whether or not the government should increase space exploration beyond the earth’s mesosphere at the national event. The students performed admirably, winning several grueling debate rounds, according to event organizers. After ten cumulative hours of debates, Kwaishon Bell of Loyola High School earned 8th Place Speaker out of over 100 of the nation’s top debaters.

Kwaishon Bell, Holly Weiss and Demetrius Heard

During the national dinner, students met NASA Administrator and former astronaut Charles Bolden and participated in a Q & A with Arne Duncan, the United States Secretary of Education, where Mr. Duncan answered questions about the status of public education within the city of Detroit. Regardless their standing, all the competitors returned winners. There’s no debating that.

Rayvon Dean, Kwaishon Bell and Demetrius Heard

Photos: Holly Weiss

Bell and Heard had debated for five hours on Friday and seven hours on Saturday before they made it to the final round—which required another hour and a half of debate. After more than 13 hours of debate, Bell and Heard had won the City Championship title as well as a bid for Nationals.

Coaches Kathy Gross (Loyola High School) and Sharon Hopkins (University Preparatory Academy) are not surprised by their students’ success.

iEDUCATION How tablets can revolutionize higher education

By Rick Hunter

Remember those days of worn textbooks, slipshod

binding, and cramming your name somewhere on the book’s inside flap? Textbooks may soon be relegated to an analog past alongside LPs, VHS, CDs, and dial-up – at least that’s what some publishers are banking on.

The folks at Apple, through their popular iPad tablet, have taken the lead on e-textbooks and higher learning with its visually arresting, iBooks Textbooks. Also joining the conversation (or digital conversion) is Amazon’s Kindle Fire, which recently updated its operating system to include sharing (through social networks) and (most important) “print replicas” of textbooks.

Textbooks may soon be relegated to an analog past As idyllic as a world without paper sounds, there’s a fundamental problem of providing access to all. Although iPads and other tablets have been gradually introduced to some classrooms, there’s still work ahead to make this technology widespread across elementary, middle schools, high schools, and colleges.

Overcoming the “urban” discussion For the average low-income family, the iPad (priced at $499 and up) is likely too expensive. This is where Amazon’s Kindle Fire (priced at $199) and Barnes & Noble’s Nook tablet (also $199) can step in. Providing comparable content can be the difference between owning a tablet or not. Then again, what do you do if the family can’t afford $199? Just as standardized test scores are a priority for administrators, so too, should the acquisition of tablets, whether it’s the iPad or an Android device. To bring tablets to the secondary school students and college freshmen would be, well, revolutionary. Students at

East Orange Campus High School, in New Jersey, literally swapped their textbooks for a Galaxy Tablet. These 458 seniors students will return their tablets at the end of the school year.

Opening the game to other players The tablet revolution is still very much in its infancy. Albeit, a decade from now, the landscape could look very different than it does in 2012. Essentially, though it is the leader, iPads are a starting point, and the successful student will likely benefit from having a range of choices for their specific needs. From an economics perspective, most classrooms should have an easier time finding products that are half the price of the iPad and just as effective. More innovation is the key. iPad will lead, but we shouldn’t discount Kindle, Nook, and other Android devices’ ability to reach that class of citizens who can’t afford to upgrade to the next generation iPad every time there’s a new announcement.

More free productivity apps So-called productivity apps are becoming more popular, and routinely top the “most downloaded” and most “popular paid” lists on both the Apple’s store and the Android Market. Apps such as Evernote are being used by businesses and in classrooms worldwide. With cloud storage and many programs that provide free word processing, spreadsheets (Open Office), and other assistance, students can truly enhance their mobile experience, staying connected to recent assignments, course work, and study materials. These apps help students organize data across platforms (laptop, cell phone, tablet) and create an overall seamless flow of information. The social networking side can provide new meaning to the phrase “lab partner” and shared learning in general. The newly released “Evernote for Dummies” points the way to how this app can not only help students, but businesses as well.

Consider revamping the cell phone, maybe So while our phones were becoming more highpowered and tablet-like in their capabilities, along came the iPad to change the game. But many of the features available on a tablet are also available on iPhones and other brands. The one common

denominator is the cell phone. Tablets offer a richer reading experience, that much is true, but let’s not forget that nearly everyone has a cell phone. That alone could change things. Small steps now could yield great leaps into the future. Across income lines, cell phones are one of the most democratic of technologies. Find what cell phones do just as well as tablets, and work to define that middle ground. Teachers’ drawers are full of confiscated cell phones. Why not find a way to put them to use and students to work?

Request tablets in your school Two sides exist: the great awe of technology (ala the cool factor), and the basic idea that schools need more access to technology. In Alabama, the legislature has proposed a bill to sponsor tablet computers for high school students in the State of Alabama – a potential $100 million dollar investment. Some believe this might reduce education expenses and improve school attendance. At the college level, Yale University Medical School is working to provide iPads to all medical students. A wider, creative expanse is possible and a number of academic publishers including Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw Hill Education and Pearson, are currently devising interactive textbooks that will astound parents and students alike. Each district, state, and school system should find a solution to get more tablets into the hands of students. Surely, the old-fashioned model of the hardcover textbook stuffed into a backpack will one day be a dusty relic of the past.

UrbanED • April 2012 7

Hard Work Has Its Rewards Detroit Public School students’ scholarship awards total $77.4 million and are growing By C.L. Price

Tip to college-bound students in Detroit: Forget

about fighting the millions-to-one odds and hoping and dreaming to win megabucks in the lottery. Instead, hit the books a little harder because there are millions of dollars available to finance your education. Not only are the odds pretty good in tapping into funds available for higher education, but the benefits are more than financial; a college degree can help assure a more satisfying and successful professional career. Consider: Detroit Public School high schools students were offered nearly $77.4 million in scholarships and grants during the 2010-11 school year. Yes, $77.4 million---that’s not a typo. The accounting for the 2011-12 school year is still underway but officials expect the number will be similar, if not greater. Some students received scholarships and grant offerings totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars. One student’s total was $575,000. For the previous year, here is a partial list of high schools that performed the best in securing scholarships and grants: – Cass Tech: $18 million – Renaissance: $13.9 million – Western: $10.5 million – Southeastern: $6.8 million – King: $5.4 million – Denby: $4.6 million – Detroit School of Arts: $3.9 million – Central: $3 million

8 UrbanED • April 2012

Schools whose scholarships and grant commitments totaled more than a million were Douglass, Southwestern, Northwestern, and Osborn Upper. Particularly impressive this school year were the offers achieved by six Renaissance High School students whose combined scholarships totaled more than $2,730,000. Here is the breakdown for each of the students: Mark McGinnis, Jr., $792,808 from nine institutions; Kevin Larry, $575,000 from two institutions; Ashley Vann, $493,321 from ten institutions; Leslie Nia Leontine Potts, $367,916 from eight institutions; Joshua Hall, $296,000 from nine institutions; and Lyndall Moore, $205,900 from five institutions. Those who received the scholarships and grants are very grateful, and understand how fortunate they were to receive the financial assistance. Nia Cleage, 17, a student at Detroit School of Arts, who received offers totaling $300,000 and maintains a 3.9 Grade Point Average, said: “All of the hard work I put into high school and middle school paid off in the end. It was not easy, but I don’t have to struggle to pay for school.” She advises others: “Although the journey may be hard, just never give up. Don’t give up on your dreams. Don’t get discouraged.” Nia, who is headed to Howard University, said she “wants to teach little kids about music, teach them to have a love of music and start my own foundation.” Another Detroit School of Arts student, Allen Dennard, 17, whose scholarship offers are about $100,000, advised other students not to surrender in pursuing scholarships, no matter how frustrating the process might be. “…You have to keep applying. It is truly worth it. It makes your future so much more successful,” he said.

Daphne Bland

Drew Walker

Allen, who is in the DSA Jazz combo, wind symphony, jazz Big Band, auditioned at 8 schools but hopes to attend the University of Michigan which he described as “one of the most prestigious schools in the nation. Hopefully, I can be part of their program.” Rita Davis, Detroit School of Arts principal, pointed out that there are 18 seniors in the school’s Band Department, and all of them received approximately $2.7 million in academic and arts scholarship commitments.

Allen Donald Walker

Teya Tarve

Society, Japanese culture club, is an officer in the book club, is in the orchestra, plays the violin and does tutoring and community service. She is very grateful stating, “Without scholarships, I would’ve been another statistic. Thanks to scholarships, I’m able to get a college education and be the first in my family. I feel like a trailblazer.” She plans to attend the University of Michigan, and would like to work for the United Nations and assist

Nia Cleage

Tanaysha Logan

received $65,000, advised students to “apply for as many scholarships as you can. You should at least get one. Keep working and keep your mind focused on goals and you’ll get where you want to go.” Was all the effort and work worth it? “Yes, this means my family won’t have the financial burden,” she said. . All the students credited their teachers and counselors in assisting them in finding scholarships and with the application process.

“Start searching for scholarships early because the school years get more hectic every level you go up.” - Ashley Willis-Bradley, Detroit School of Arts (DSA) student and recipient of $150,000 in scholarship awards to date. Ashely Willis-Bradley

Ashley Willis-Bradley, 17, who has tallied about $150,000 in scholarships and grants and counting, said that starting the scholarship search early is key. Willis-Bradley, who majored in orchestra and has a 3.94 Grade Point Average, also stressed that maintaining high grades is critical and that extra-curricular activities and concerts should not take precedence over class work. She followed the DSA motto that the ‘first performance is in the classroom.’ “Without the scholarships, I would not be attending Howard University,” said Willis-Bradley. Drew Walker, 18, a Cass Tech student, who has a 3.7 Grade Point Average and received about $100,000 in offers, also said including Detroit Compact, that “it is never too early to start looking for scholarships. I noticed that on scholarship websites, if you put in your grades and activities, they will match you up with scholarships.” She is part of the National Honor

impoverished nations. Drew’s colleague at Cass, Teya Tarver-Smith, 17, who has about $100,000 in scholarship offers including the Wade McCree Scholarship, Detroit Compact and Michigan Competitive, recommended being creative when applying for funds. “I’ve seen scholarships that just need creativity,” said Teya. A student at Communication and Media Arts (CMA), Daphne Bland, 18, who had four scholarships totaling $75,000, also recommended starting early to seek out scholarships. “Apply as early as you can,” he said. “The later you start, the more you feel rushed.” She plans to attend Western Michigan University to study biology, and veterinarian science.

Information on scholarship and grant availability can be obtained from a variety of sources, including counselors, teachers, educational and professional organizations and the Internet. Communication and Media Arts Principal Donya Odom said the school works hard to keep students informed on scholarship availability and has a new requirement for ninth graders is that they must be accepted to a 4-year college, which put them in a college mindset from the start. “We have a Counselor’s Corner in the parent newsletter weekly,” said Odom. “Students get a plethora of scholarship connections. Every week they have about five to apply for. We do that because we understand the value of applying for scholarships. For students who have exceptional grades like ours do, people are giving money away, and we want to make sure it’s easy for them to obtain those funds.”

Daphne’s colleague at CMA, Tanaysha Logan, 17, who UrbanED • April 2012 9

BLOG LOG Friends, School, Sleep. Pick Two By Kara Coleman

combine time spent on sleep with that spent on studying, the top 11 percent are still left with 101 free hours. One hundred fourteen free hours are still available for the average student. If you factor in the 15 average in-class hours, you have 86 and 99 spare hours, respectively. That’s a lot of time. So why do we always feel rushed? Let’s break down where all this time goes:

It was 2 p.m. on a Tuesday, time to sit through another Calculus class. The formulas, which normally come easy to me, seemed like hieroglyphics. The professor’s soft-spoken manner did not help either. I hadn’t slept much the previous night thanks to preparing for an upcoming exam, and listening to him drone on and on was painful. I was just about to fall into a daze when my eyes fell upon a backpack pin. “Friends, School, Sleep: Pick Two”, it read. Never had I read words more true. There are so many hours and, somehow, so little time. Listening in on a few college conversations will make sleep deprivation and time management complaints sound banal. So where does all this time go? You might say that this is just a sign of the times. Job competition is fierce and you have to excel at school to make it. But are we really spending that much time studying? In 2010, the National Survey of Student Engagement surveyed 620,000 students at 850 four-year universities to find out how college students really spent their days. Surprisingly, the study found that the average full-time college freshman only studied an average of 13 hours a week.

The average full-time college freshman only studied an average of 13 hours a week. According to the McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign, the average college student gets six hours of sleep a night. Once you 10 UrbanED • April 2012

That takes care of many daily activities. When you take into account time spent on eating, exercising, phone conversations, showering, changing, styling hair, e-mailing, washing dishes, cleaning the home, shopping, paying bills, and sitting on your bed for 10 minutes before stepping out, your free time shrinks considerably. Before you know it, it’s late again. And even without an all-nighter in the cards, you know you’ll be tired.

Students should spend approximately 2-3 hours of study time for each hour that they spend in class. Unless…nevermind. No, I really think we should. Grab your eye masks everyone: We’re skipping class and sleeping in tomorrow. It’s about time we made some time. Editor’s Note: Our editorial partner,, regularly features blogs about student life, as well as information about scholarships, college recruitment and financial aid information. Our editors recommend, which has come to become one of the most widely-used and trusted free college scholarship search, financial information resources and college prep sites on the Internet. Visit them at:

Zena Blake has found her groove.

College will teach you how to manage cash fast

Many students discover, at the most inconvenient and embarrassing times, that their ex-

penses have exceeded their income -- they are out of cash! The question is what to do. Call home? Borrow from the roommate? Both are short term solutions at best. A better solution is to design a budget for college spending and take control of the cash flow. The primary purpose of a budget is to design a realistic plan for spending limited financial resources. A student budget requires flexibility to adapt to the changing circumstances of college life. Essential steps in designing a budget are: • Identify your income sources. Income can include your allowance from home, takehome pay from student employment, savings allocated to college expenses, interest, dividends, gifts, grants and scholarships. • Review and modify the plan. If expenses exceed income, identify ways to increase income or reduce expenses. This is not rocket science, but doing it right is terribly important to your economic well-being at college. List fixed and flexible expenses. Fixed expenses are exact amounts due on a specific date. Flexible expenses include money spent on wants and needs that are irregular in nature. Peer pressure and conveniences such as ATMs can play havoc with student budgets, because ready cash makes it easy to buy things on a whim. A budget can help you sidestep impulse spending. It puts you in control of the decision to buy or not to buy, based on your needs and available cash.

Transitioning to Kalamazoo College from high school was a challenge for this self-described reserved person. But she met her challenges head on and hasn’t looked back.The College helped Zena in part by connecting her to people in the community. She’s worked as a high school math aide and as a counselor at a summer algebra camp for public school students held on K’s campus. Now a junior math major with an interest in criminal psychology, Zena plans to complete a senior project on the effects, importance, and value of math enrichment programs. “The people here really make it special,” Zena said about K. “I’ve made good friends.”

More in Four. More in a Lifetime.

FIXED EXPENSES • College room and board -- dormitory meal plan or off-campus housing • Car payment and insurance, if you have a car • Health insurance, if not covered by parent’s policy • Tuition, a fixed expense, may vary depending on course load • Other fixed expenses, such an emergency fund and other saving FLEXIBLE EXPENSES • Books, lab fees, equipment, supplies, tutoring, etc. • Snacks, drinks, groceries, restaurant meals • Telephone bill • Social and recreation expenses -- such as movies, sporting events •Transportation -- plane, train, bus, cabs, car maintenance, and parking • Personal expenses -- toiletries, haircuts, laundry • Clothing -- new purchases, dry cleaning • Health Care -- prescriptions, doctor or dentist fees • Other expenses -- such as dues and gifts Compare total estimated expenses with your total income then adjust the flexible expenses in order to balance your budget. Your spending practices will have a significant effect on shaping your financial security and a budget helps you keep spending in tow. Effective use of a student budget will help you gain the sense of independence that comes from being in control of your personal financial affairs, whether you have “plenty of money” or are operating on a shoestring.

UrbanED • April 2012 11

Degree of Debt By C.L. Price


larming increases in student debt are causing area families to wonder if the cost of attaining an education is within their reach. Ask Olivia Akwa Nsedua Mensah, a junior at UofM Dearborn whose modest student loans will total more than $30,000 by the time she graduates. “I feel lucky,” says Mensah. “My tuition and student loan debt is far less than many other students that I know. I’m estimating that it will take me nearly seven years to pay off my debt. I’m also nervous, because I have friends who graduated but can’t find jobs. I’d hate to default on my student loans.”

Ferris State University Average net price per year*: $14,370 Median net price of peer group: $10,169 University of Michigan Average net price per year*: $16,888 Median net price of peer group: $12,738 Central Michigan University Average net price per year*: $14,183 Median net price of peer group: $10,112 Michigan Tech Average net price per year*: $15,430 Median net price of peer group: $12,439 Western Michigan University Average net price per year*: $15,285 Median net price of peer group: $12,439

The 22 year-old rooms with her parents in their 2-bedroom home, which allows Mensah to keep her college living expenses low. Other students opt to take on part time jobs to offset college expenses.

Eastern Michigan University Average net price per year*: $12,474 Median net price of peer group: $10,169

Like child support and income taxes, student loans usually can’t be discharged or reduced in bankruptcy proceedings, as can most other delinquent debt, so it’s critical that students make good choices. AVERAGE CAMPUS STUDENT DEBT The Michigan Chronicle’s editorial partner, Bridge Magazine, took a look inside Michigan’s public universities to see what is at the root of this alarming trend. The report revealed that students at Michigan’s 15 public universities took out nearly $2 billion in student loans in the 2009-10 school year. That one-year, statewide student debt load increased $600 million – or 49 percent – in just three years (from 2007 to 2010). Central Michigan $28,142

Michigan Tech $33,310

Uof M Dearborn $19,463

Eastern Michigan $23,669

Northern Michigan $27,091

Uof M Flint $25,945

Ferris State $35,468

Oakland University $20,663

Wayne State University $20,250

Grand Valley State $25,279

Saginaw Valley State University $23,555

Western Michigan $20,000

Lake Superior State $24,672 Michigan State $21,818

University of Michigan $27,828

The Michigan Chronicle’s editorial partner, Bridge Magazine, helped us look into the average tuition costs of Michigan’s 15 public universities. Check your heart rate, your bank balance and underneath the couch cushions for spare change. You may need it. For additional details on the survey visit:

12 UrbanED • April 2012

Grand Valley State University Average net price per year*: $15,934 Median net price of peer group: $10,169

According to a report published by Bridge Magazine, the annual student loan amount per degree at Michigan college campuses was $28,500 in 2010 – an increase of 44 percent over 2007

Most hope to exist college armed with degree and as little debt as possible, according to Mensah.

Olivia Akwa Nsedua Mensah


Michigan State University Average net price per year*: $14,708 Median net price of peer group: $12,738 Lake Superior State University Average net price per year*: $12,054 Median net price of peer group: $10,842 Northern Michigan University Average net price per year*: $10,721 Median net price of peer group: $9,731 Oakland University Average net price per year*: $10,972 Median net price of peer group: $10,112 Saginaw Valley State University Average net price per year*: $10,870 Median net price of peer group: $10,169 University of Michigan-Flint Average net price per year*: $10,058 Median net price of peer group: $10,169 University of Michigan-Dearborn Average net price per year*: $8,689 Median net price of peer group: $10,169 Wayne State University Average net price per year*: $10,147 Median net price of peer group: $12,738 *Average net price for all students receiving any grant or scholarship aid


–You’re On Your Own!

10 tips to prepare for college

By Chelsey Wallace


earing the word “goodbye” is one of the toughest words that your parents may hear from you at the threshold of your dorm door — an eerie symbol of that jump from the comfortable dependence of family life and the terrifying reality of real independence. Finally, you’ve arrived. No one is going to tell you what to do, where to go or when to be in. Then comes that OMG moment when you really realize — you’re on your own! Four years ago, I was in this position and ready to face this big transition. I admit, it was not easy to leave my loved ones behind, but I was strong and kept a positive mindset. Now, as a senior at Florida A&M University, I have to say that those four years flew by. Looking back at my freshman year in college, I just laugh and wish I could experience those days all over again.

Also, do not bring your entire room with you. Dorm rooms are often no bigger than your bedroom closet. You’re likely to have a roommate(s) that you do not know, so it’s best to leave the expensive/valuable belongings behind. If you can live without it, leave it at home. 4. B  ooks. Textbooks can really be expensive and not a part of your budget. My first year, I was one of the many students who did not know you could purchase required textbooks for class online. Instead, I bought my books from the campus bookstore. I learned to rent or purchase used books for a low price, instead of buying them new. Online websites that you can peruse for locating inexpensive textbooks are: chegg. com and

6. S  chool supplies/Dorm shopping. Start buying supplies and dorm room necessities early. They go fast, so get to the stores early. Also, make sure you check your resident hall guidelines to determine if they allow that portable grill or hot plate. Many do not. 7. O  pen a checking account. Cash can get misplaced, lost or stolen. Open a checking account with a local bank or credit union near campus. I had a checking account with a Credit Union here in Michigan while in Florida. The extra bank fees for withdrawing money out of your account from a different bank will put a dent in your cash. You do not want to be charged up to $4 dollars every time you withdraw money.

My tips for easing the transition?

8. G  et involved. Join clubs and organizations that align with your major or interests. They provide great ways to network and you will make friends for life. I am currently a member of NABJ, which stands for the National Association of Black Journalists. Since I will be a future journalist, I wanted to join and network with other aspiring journalists.

1. F  inancial Aid. Upon receiving your acceptance letter, if you are in need of financial aid, make sure it is turned in on time. FASFA, an application that determines how much aid you are eligible to receive for that semester, requires student and parent tax history from the last tax year. It also helps determine eligibility for grants, work study, loans and other federal aid. It is best to file the form before March 1st.

9. G  et acquainted with professors. I cannot stress how important it is to know your professors. Visit them during their office hours, introduce yourself and let them know you are a concerned student. And don’t make your first visit your last stop. Professors need to know that you are committed and concerned throughout the year. Believe me, the effort will be reflected in your final grade.

2. S  cholarships. Apply for all the scholarships you can. In the future, you will be glad not having the burden of paying back as much in student loans. is a popular website students flock to for scholarship opportunities.

10. U  sing pubic transit. Get used to the bus. Your car may not be allowed on campus if you are a first year student. Learn the campus and city bus routes to the best of your ability. And, remember to plan your time according to how many stops are on your route.

I’d do it better next time.

3. D  orms. Reserve a room as early as possible! Usually, dorm rooms are assigned on a first come first serve basis, so you will have a better chance on getting a good roommate if you get in early. Unfortunately, my freshman year, I was stuck with a roommate I could not tolerate. She had no intentions of ever cleaning up her side of the room and she always had an attitude. I acquired coping skills akin to a United Nations Ambassador that year.

5. G  et familiar with the campus. As soon as you get your schedule, take time to locate where each class will be held. You’ll get that lost look out of your eye before the upperclassman return.

If you follow these tips, you’ll be sure to have a smooth transition into college. In addition, you will be better prepared for what you have to look forward to during your first year away. I learned the hard way, so why not learn from my mistakes?

UrbanED • April 2012 13

“The conference introduced a vital dialogue that must occur so equality in education in our public schools can take center stage of how we discuss revitalizing American communities. “ - Dr. Curtis L. Ivery, WCCCD Chancellor

Opportunity Nation campaign puts Detroit in the center of the education debate Detroit’s intellectual capital leaped significantly last week with the gathering of hundreds of prominent educational experts and policymakers. The leaders convened at Wayne County Community College District’s (WCCCD) downtown campus for a regional economic summit: “Towards New Geographies of Opportunity in Education. Kevin Jennings, CEO, Opportunity Nation and the former assistant deputy of the U.S. Department of Education under the Obama Administration, keynoted the prestigious event. The gathering put nationally-renowned educator and Wayne County Community College Chancellor Dr. Curtis Ivory front and center in the conversations surrounding the future of affirmative action in higher education. “The conference introduced a vital dialogue that must occur so equality in education in our public schools can take center stage of how we discuss revitalizing American communities,” said Ivery. “We’re proud to be working with the Opportunity Nation campaign on advancing such critical goals.” The conference considered the WCCCD Chancellor pivotal role educators, advocates, Dr. Curtis L. Ivery and policymakers can play in the development of a local and national agenda responding to the collateral forces of educational inequality, racial segregation, and concentrated poverty that continue to impede economic opportunity and undermine the very ideals of democracy upon which the nation was founded. Panelists also discussed the recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions that have impacted efforts to integrate public

schools, including the pending Supreme Court case, Fisher V. University of Texas, which many legal experts are predicting will end affirmative action in higher education; and social and institutional responses to segregation in public education and related public policy initiatives. The conference was presented by WCCCD and Opportunity Nation as part of a national set of conferences to help create a shared, bipartisan plan of real-world strategies to increase opportunities with the overall aim of creating pathways to economic mobility for communities across the nation. Towards New Geographies of Opportunity in Education is one of only 12 Opportunity Nation conferences happening around the country, according an event spokesperson. Wayne County Community College District last year was one of only a dozen educational institutions selected for the Opportunity Nation Higher Education Council, a group that includes private, public, community and religiously affiliated colleges and universities. Each Higher Education Council member is holding regional events around the country, aimed at spurring dialogue and creating strategies for building economic mobility in the communities they serve.

Black Out continued from cover We could not hide dressed in navy blue uniforms with crisp white button-down shirts. And we often had so much homework-book reports, essays, analyses, and short stories--the stack of books we carried home from the liberal arts high school seemed to rise up to our chins. We hunkered down, took a seat near the front and tried to ignore them as they continued to hurl insults at us that felt like spit in my face. They were Black just like us, but we seemed worlds apart because we were interested in our education. I took the same heat in my neighborhood. It was no place for proper pronunciation of the English language, although I mastered it, so I began to “act Black.” Although it wasn’t allowed in the house, I learned to talk and walk Black, too. I greeted my neighborhood friends, “What it be like?” If someone asked me “Sup?,” I returned the greeting with something like “Chillin’ like a villain,” “Ain’t no thang, but a chicken wing” or “You got it.” If I didn’t like the person, I would say, “Da sky.” I enjoyed my new language, which eventually spilled over into the classroom in the predominately white school. Soon, my attitude began to change about my teachers and “the establishment.” I refused to live in two worlds, and I didn’t want to. In the classroom, I had a gangsta lean in my seat, pushed my uniform socks down so they slouched, popped gum. Consequently, my grades began to suffer because I didn’t want to be considered cool, not smart. Straight A’s were for suckers, and I found myself in parent-teacher conferences to discuss what was wrong at home. Eventually, I snapped out of it, and accepted my brilliant self and set my sights on going to college. I won awards, became a student leader and starred in the school plays. I discovered I could be cool and smart.

Opportunity Nation is a national program and campaign to increase economic opportunities and mobility – led by Time magazine, United Way, AARP, the Ford Foundation and a broad coalition of nearly 200 businesses, nonprofits, educational institutions and military organizations. Photo Above: Reclaiming Integration In Public Education Panelists Anurima Bhargava, Godfrey Dillard, Robert Sedler and Reginald Turner

Lena Johnson

Lena Johnson, a 15-year-old Detroit Edison Public School Academy of Early College Excellence, has noticed the same phenomenon still happening today. She’s seen the same person continued on page 15

14 UrbanED • April 2012

Black Out continued from page 14 who was once focused on their school work start wearing baggy pants, not turning in their homework and

making a scene in a crowd. She’s heard this behavior called “acting Black.”

proving students’ achievement ethic and self-image are essential to closing the achievement gap.”

“They don’t want to be labeled,” she says. “They’ll wait until the last minute to get their work in, or they’ll get points off because they don’t turn their work in. They won’t do extra credit to make up for assignments, and then they’ll try to get their grades good one week before parent-teacher conferences.”

For the study, Ford and her team surveyed 166 gifted Black students in the fifth through 12th grades in two Ohio schools. Researchers set out to establish how gifted students achieved in school compared to their White peers.

A study published in the March issue of the education journal Urban Education, one of the first formal research studies to examine the concept of “acting Black,” found that gifted students often underachieve in school to prove they can fit in with everyone else. The study offers some insight into the performance disparities between American Black and White students. “Part of the achievement gap, particularly for gifted Black students, is due to the poor image these students have of themselves as learners,” says lead study author Donna Y. Ford, a professor of education and human development at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. “Our research shows that prevention and intervention programs that focus on im-

Students said they were aware of the term “acting White,” which they described as speaking properly, being smart or too smart¸ doing well in school, taking advanced courses, being stuck up or not acting your race. Conversely, they said “acting Black” meant having a nonchalant or “don’t care” attitude, being laid back, being dumb or uneducated and pretending not to be smart. Of students who participated in the study, 66 percent said they knew someone who had been teased for doing well in school, and 42 percent of the students said they had been teased for doing well themselves. Further, the researchers found that students said they knew school was important and getting an education was the key to success, they may not behave that way at school, pointing to a difference in their attitudes and behaviors. continued on page 16


The amazing legacy of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) – continuing their tradition of educating African Americans and the world!

There are 105 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) across the nation. In 1965, in Title III of the Higher Education Act of 1965, Congress officially defined an HBCU as an institution whose principal mission was and is the education of black Americans, was accredited and was established before 1964. The first HBCU, Cheney University in Pennsylvania was founded in 1837. All HBCUs play a critical role in the American higher education system. For most of America’s history, African Americans who received a college education could only get it from an HBCU. Today, HBCUs remain one of the surest ways for an African American, or student of any race, to receive a quality education.

While the 105 HBCUs represent just three percent of the nation’s institutions of higher learning, they graduate nearly 20 percent of African Americans who earn undergraduate degrees. HBCUs, because of their unique sensibility to the special needs of young African American minds, remain the institutions that demonstrate the most effective ability to graduate African American students who are poised to be competitive in the corporate, research, academic, governmental and military arenas.

UNCF supports minority students at many schools that are not HBCUs. However, UNCF directly supports 38 private HBCUs. HBCUs are experts at educating African Americans: • HBCUs graduate over 50 percent African American professionals. • HBCUs graduate over 50 percent of African American public school teachers and 70 percent of African American dentists. • 50 percent of African Americans who graduate from HBCUs go on to graduate or professional schools.

• HBCUs award more than one in three of the degrees held by African Americans in natural sciences. • HBCUs award one-third of the degrees held by African Americans in mathematics. • According to a 2004 McKinsey study, the average graduation rate at many HBCUs is higher than the average graduation rate for African Americans at majority institutions.

UNCF Member Institutions Allen University Benedict College Bennett College Bethune-Cookman College Claflin University Clark Atlanta University Dillard University Edward Waters College Fisk University Florida Memorial College Huston-Tillotson College Interdenominational Theological Center Jarvis Christian College Johnson C. Smith University Lane College LeMoyne-Owen College Livingstone College Miles College Morehouse College Morris College Oakwood College Paine College Philander Smith College Rust College St. Augustine’s College Saint Paul’s College Shaw University Spelman College Stillman College Talladega College Texas College Tougaloo College Tuskegee University Virginia Union University Voorhees College Wilberforce University Wiley College Xavier University

Columbia, SC Columbia, SC Greensboro, NC Daytona Beach, FL Orangeburg, SC Atlanta, GA New Orleans, LA Jacksonville, FL Nashville, TN Miami, FL Austin, TX Atlanta, GA Hawkins, TX Charlotte, NC Jackson, TN Memphis, TN Salisbury, NC Fairfield, AL Atlanta, GA Sumter, SC Huntsville, AL Augusta, GA Little Rock, AR Holly Spring, MS Raleigh, NC Lawrenceville, VA Raleigh, NC Atlanta, GA Tuscaloosa, AL Talladega, AL Tyler, TX Tougaloo, MS Tuskegee Institute, AL Richmond, VA Denmark, SC Wilberforce, OH Marshall, TX New Orleans, LA


Black Out continued from page 15 Ford and study co-authors Gilman Whiting and Tarek Grantham believe Black gifted students need counseling to help them deal with peer pressure, poor self-esteem and stereotypes, but naysayers indicate that this issue is an urban myth unworthy of further conversation. What do you think? Share your comments and experiences at

What People Are Posting About “Acting Black:” -No one has ever told me that I “act Black.” I do see White kids trying to “act Black” by using Black slang with other White kids though. -Nigel Taylor Southfield / U of D High School

-How about this. Quit ACTING period. - blacknerdgirl -Why are African Americans on the bottom? How has ‘right’ behavior become White, and something for Blacks to avoid? – actingwhite.blogspot post -What is “acting Black” or “acting White?” And why do(es) ghetto = Black/Hispanic? I know some ghetto ass ppl from other races! So if a white person like rap they’re acting black! If a black person speaks proper they are acting white? Aren’t we bringing down our races when we say stuff like that? Why ppl can’t just like what they like or be who they are w/o hearing stuff like this?? We really need to cut this ignorant sh_ _ out! - Kyheaven -Why should I have to sound and speak a certain way? -blackgrl

16 UrbanED • April 2012

College campus visits. ACT prep.

Acceptance letters, enrollment forms, financial aid and scholarship applications and transcripts. Graduation.

With all the excitement and stress of planning for college, the hard work that brought you to this important point in your life can become a blur. Those people who helped you along the way and milestone moments can be forgotten. It’s important to take an opportunity to reflect on them -- the teachers, the counselors, the classmates, the challenging academic programs and enriching educational opportunities – to re-

help, DPS provides all of this, and more, to make sure its students shine and succeed. To ensure that light continues to shine for DPS and its students, the Foundation asks alumni to share your DPS stories so current and future DPS students are inspired to excel in their educational pursuits. Graduation is not the end of your DPS story; it’s a new chapter, one in which, as DPS alumni, you can continue to support DPS and encourage those students who follow in your steps to achieve all they are capable of achieving.

Chacona Johnson

Look to the Future but Remember Your Roots By Chacona Johnson member their support in the successes of your journey. You all are products of the Detroit Public Schools, and you should be proud of your accomplishments, just as the Detroit Public Schools Foundation is proud of all it does to support DPS and its students. From enhancing experiences in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) to bolstering fine arts programs, the DPS Foundation helps DPS to provide a stimulating, challenging and successful education for all DPS students. Through the support of the DPS Foundation, DPS students have been given the opportunity to showcase their musical and artistic talents at the annual DPS Evening of Fine Arts and to compete in a statewide engineering competition that took students all the way to the nation’s capital, where they participated in the White House Science Fair. The Foundation is pleased to have supported the annual DPS Excellence Awards Banquet, where student achievement is recognized and scholarships are awarded to help DPS graduates pursue further education. With the Foundation’s

To help alumni – new and not so new – support DPS, the Foundation soon will embark on an exciting new alumni program enabling you to keep in touch with DPS and to support programs and activities benefitting DPS students. Signing up for the alumni program is easy. Simply phone Erica Sanders, Alumni Development Specialist for DPS Foundation, at (313) 8738976 or email her at esanders@ One important feature of the program will be a DPS alumni website that will serve as the “go to” place for all alumni to keep in touch with fellow

alumni, obtain information on DPS programs and activities, and learn about ways to support DPS. The DPS Foundation congratulates all members of the DPS Class of 2012 on your graduation and wishes you much success in your future pursuits. As the new class of alumni, the Foundation also urges you to remember how much you benefitted from your DPS education and to continue supporting DPS so future generations may receive those same advantages.

UrbanEd April 2012  
UrbanEd April 2012  

A magazine for urban youth transitioning into college.