Yale University’s most popular course ever may be one of the best indicators of the mental health of incoming and current college students.
Psyc 157, “Psychology and the Good Life,” a twice-weekly lecture that tries to teach students how to live happier lives, enrolled nearly a quarter of the entire student body this semester. It is reportedly the most popular course in Yale’s 316-year-long history.
The course is led by psychology professor Laurie Santos who speculates that the college admission process and the high-pressure campus environment it fosters are behind the class’s popularity. In high school, she said, students had to deprioritize happiness to gain admission to school, leading them to adopt unhealthy and harmful life habits that culminate in “the mental health crises we’re seeing at places like Yale.”
We hear about all the great teachers in the counseling office. The one who set the times tables to the tune of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” ensuring kids will remember them forever, even if it will take a while to get to eight times nine. Mr. Jones, the history teacher who dressed up like Benjamin Franklin for an entire week and never once broke character. The 10th grade English teacher who finally explained “i after e” in a way that made sense. When you put that much thought into a lesson, it makes for memorable teaching.
Of course, that’s not the only way teachers become memorable. The teacher who said just the right words at just the right time to the bully who had incredible art talent, making the student more comfortable with who they really were, and less of a bully. The teacher who wore the cut-rate perfume a special needs student gave her at Christmas, every time that student had a spelling test—the same perfume she’d wear when attending that student’s graduation from medical school. The teacher who shows up at the Saturday soccer league and cheers loudly for all her students on the sidelines, even though her students are spread throughout both teams, and it’s 40 degrees out.
Over a third of college students aren’t getting enough to eat, according to a survey of more than 43,000 students at 66 US colleges and universities.
The data was collected by the Wisconsin HOPE lab. And while researchers say the survey wasn’t designed to be representative of colleges nationwide, it is believed to be the best national estimate available — and it raises important questions about college access and success.
In an effort to combat stereotypes and poverty, one Arizona college has come up with a creative way to engage its largely first-generation student population.
Sixty-six percent of Arizona Western College’s nearly 8,000 undergrads identify as first-gen students. And according to recent data from the Community College Benchmark Project, 22 percent of Arizona Western’s students have annual family incomes of less than $20,000. The median family income for the school is $34,200.
Single moms are among the fastest growing populations on college campuses, but the group’s graduation rates don’t reflect this positive trend.
There are about 2.1 million single moms in college, according to a recent report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Single moms now comprise more than 11 percent of college students, up from 7.8 percent in 1999.
However, only 28 percent of single moms who entered college between 2003 and 2009 completed their degree or certificate program within six years. Compare this to 40 percent of married mothers or 57 percent of women in college without children.