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Here’s what it’s really like to be recruited as a college athlete in NoVA

Westlake Legal Group Untitled-93 Here’s what it’s really like to be recruited as a college athlete in NoVA the st. james Students Sports soccer scholarship recruitment recruiting Lacrosse high school athlete football family life Family Culture Features athletics athletes
24/7 Soccer: Matthew Allen, a rising senior at Madison High School in Vienna, trains and practices before and after school, and on the weekends, in the hopes of earning a spot on a college soccer team. (Photo by Jonathan Timmes)

Matthew Allen, a 17-year-old rising senior at James Madison High School in Vienna, has been playing soccer since he was 5 years old. He has been dreaming of playing in college since eighth grade.

“Soccer takes up the majority of what I think about when I’m not in school,” Matthew says. “I love doing it so much that not playing in college wouldn’t feel right to me.”

To secure his spot on a college team, Matthew and his father, Mike Allen, are doing everything they can to help Matthew rise above the thousands of other high school soccer players hoping to get recruited by college coaches. For instance, after playing on his high school junior varsity team, Matthew decided not to pursue a spot on the varsity soccer team to focus exclusively on travel soccer and tournaments where college coaches can see him play. Although his father has never officially tallied up the investment the family has made in Matthew’s soccer career, a quick calculation shows a price tag easily in excess of $30,000, which includes travel team fees and other practice-related budget items.

In addition to the financial outlay, Matthew also keeps a grueling schedule. There’s attending classes and doing homework, of course, but he also lifts weights for an hour on Mondays and then attends a two-hour training session. On Tuesdays, he has a 90-minute club team practice; Wednesdays he does an hour of strength conditioning and then takes an hour-long ACT prep class that begins at 9 p.m.; Thursdays is another 90-minute club team practice; Fridays are slightly less intense with only 30 minutes of weight lifting, and Sunday is game day. His only free day is Saturday, when he typically sleeps in and spends time with his friends and girlfriend.

This doesn’t account for the days Matthew and his father travel to soccer tournaments or the time that he spends emailing coaches or visiting colleges to meet with coaches. “There are days when I wake up and don’t want to go to whatever I have that day,” he admits. “But I power through it and I feel accomplished that I had the mental strength to get through it and I made the best of it.”

An unrelenting schedule and tens of thousands of dollars spent on sports may sound like a lot to the uninitiated, but for the families of high school athletes in Northern Virginia, this picture is fairly par for the course. Over the years, high school sports have become less about getting a letter jacket and more about scoring a coveted spot on an elite college team. But with minimal spots available at top-tier schools, the pressure has also slowly ratcheted up—schedules like Matthew’s are not uncommon—and it’s left some parents, students and even mental health professionals cautioning that it may not be worth it.

Westlake Legal Group Untitled-65 Here’s what it’s really like to be recruited as a college athlete in NoVA the st. james Students Sports soccer scholarship recruitment recruiting Lacrosse high school athlete football family life Family Culture Features athletics athletes
Recently opened, The St. James has become a popular training facility for serious high school athletes. (Photo courtesy of The St. James)
The Competition is Fierce

Getting recruited to play on a college team is highly competitive, especially for a sport such as soccer where most coaches only recruit six or eight new players each year, says Douglas Homer, director of soccer at The St. James, a high-performance training center in Springfield, where Matthew trains. In fact, local residents and co-founders Kendrick Ashton and Craig Dixon built The St. James because they recognized that the DC market lacked a comprehensive training facility for elite sports. “We live in a very expensive and educated market,” Homer adds.

College recruiting used to be limited by the team’s budget and how far the coaches were willing to drive to see players. Now, coaches can cast a wider net because technology allows them to view videos of student athletes across the county and even overseas through recruiting websites, such as GotSoccer and Next College Student Athlete. It’s not unusual for coaches to talk with 500 or more potential players, Homer says. “Technology has changed the playing field for the coach and the student athlete,” he says. “Sometimes your kid is competing with someone who doesn’t even live in the United States.”

Competition off the field is tough, too. Being a great athlete is not enough to make the team; you also have to be a great student. College coaches typically only consider student-athletes with strong GPAs. “Coaches want to make sure you can get into their school, stay in their school and make good enough grades to be able to play on their team,” Matthew says.

“Parents always ask coaches what their kids can do to prepare for college soccer and every coach has said, ‘Get your grades up,’” Mike says. “None of them has suggested students work on passing or shooting.”

Yet, high school athletes still need to hone their athletic skills if they want to play on a college team. “The reality is not everyone is going to be a college prospect,” Homer says. “We want people to reach their potential but we have to be honest. You might see yourself as a Duke basketball player but perhaps you are more mid-major Division I or DII.” Getting to that higher level of competition often means spending all your free time practicing, including skills training, conditioning and refining your mental skills and coping skills. “If you’re not willing to do those things every single day, someone else is doing that and taking your spot,” Homer says.

As intense as Matthew’s schedule is, the reality is he’s likely competing with students who have made athletic training the focus of their daily schedule, Homer says. For many elite sports, including soccer, it’s becoming the norm for students to spend eight hours a day practicing, playing in matches and traveling. Before joining The St. James staff, Homer worked at a private school where students began their day with a soccer training session, studied for four hours and then finished the afternoon with another training session. This type of schedule is becoming increasingly common for swimmers, golfers and squash players, and many are home-schooled to allow them to train most of the day and still keep their grades up, says Alister Walker, a highly ranked professional squash player and director of squash at The St. James.

Scholarships Aren’t the Main Motivator

For many students, including Matthew, their goal isn’t to get a scholarship; it’s simply to get on a college team. In fact, with the exception of a few blockbuster players in high-profile sports, a full-ride sports scholarship isn’t generally a possibility. For Matthew, who is looking at joining a DIII team, there is no possibility of scholarship money. However, the rewards of playing on a college team aren’t monetary. “At every school we’re looking at there is tight bond amongst the players,” Mike says. “Then you think about the alumni, [and playing a college sport] becomes an alumni network for jobs. For me, as a parent, knowing there is that immediate network to help these kids, there’s a real benefit to that.”

Westlake Legal Group Untitled-26 Here’s what it’s really like to be recruited as a college athlete in NoVA the st. james Students Sports soccer scholarship recruitment recruiting Lacrosse high school athlete football family life Family Culture Features athletics athletes
A College-Level Commitment: Madison Kercher, who recently graduated from Herndon High School, was originally recruited by Arizona State University, but she later decided to stay closer to home. She’ll play lacross for Rutgers University in New Jersey this fall. (Photo by Jonathan Timmes)

Madison Kercher, 18, a recent graduate of Herndon High School, wasn’t looking for a full scholarship; she just wanted to play college lacrosse. In fact, she was so excited about the idea of playing in college that she verbally committed to play lacrosse for Arizona State University in February 2016, when she was only 15. Madison admits she felt pressure to join a college team because most of her teammates on her travel team, Capital Lacrosse, had already signed letters of intent and she worried that she wouldn’t get a spot on a DI team if she didn’t commit to a college the fall of her sophomore year. “I felt like I had to get it done,” she says.

Nearly two years later, when Kercher went on her official visit to ASU in September 2018, she began to have second thoughts because it was so far from home. Two days after her visit, she severed her relationship with the team and asked the Capital Lacrosse recruiting coach to help her find another college team to join, knowing there was a good chance she wouldn’t get a position on a Division I team. “Players are a commodity to these coaches, and there is no shortage of people who want to play in college,” observes her father, Tom Kercher.

She was able to get a spot on the Rutgers lacrosse team.

“What was important to us was Maddie wanted to play in college at the highest level and we wanted her to have the experience of being a D1 student athlete,” Tom says. In fact, when it looked like Madison might not get to play in college, the family felt a sense of loss. “For us, as parents, watching Maddie when going through this, it was very hard to see how stressed out she was,” says mother Kim Kercher. “There were times when I thought it was too much, but I knew if she didn’t have a stick in her hand and try to play in college she would never be happy.”

Not Just in NoVA

The prestige of scoring a coveted spot on a college sports team is apparent in Northern Virginia and the entire DC region, but recent headlines show that the competitiveness has reached a fever pitch in affluent circles all over the country.

Earlier this year, news broke of a sweeping bribery scandal that saw more than 30 parents accused of paying William Rick Singer, an admissions consultant, an estimated $25 million combined to bribe coaches at competitive colleges to recruit students into sports programs. Schools implicated in the Varsity Blues scandal include Georgetown University (which declined to comment for this story), as well as Yale, Stanford, Wake Forest University, University of California Los Angeles, University of Texas, University of San Diego and University of Southern California. Increasingly elite sports, such as crew, tennis and lacrosse, have become a means for affluent students to get into competitive schools. Many of these families can afford to spend thousands of dollars on club team fees, travel, a personal coach and maybe even a sports psychologist and nutritionist to help their fledging athlete mature.

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For the Love of the Game: The St. James boasts coaches and staff equipped to provide guidance for elite high school athletes. (Photo courtesy of the St. James)

In NoVA, student athletes who hope to be recruited are spending anywhere from $6,000 to $10,000 a year, says Homer.

It’s easy for families to get swept up in the process, says psychotherapist Michele T. Cole, LCSW, and founder of Moving Forward, PLC, a private practice in Old Town, Alexandria. Parents need to make sure their child is making a decision that isn’t just good for them athletically, but also academically and emotionally. “Sometimes kids are getting recruited and they don’t even know why they are doing it,” she says. Continually ask your son or daughter why they want to play for a certain college and whether it fits into their overall goals, Cole says. “Are they doing it for the right reason or just because they are so caught up in the moment, they can’t take a step back?”

Madison Kercher’s story is familiar to Cole; her daughter was recruited to play lacrosse for the University of Denver, but before her daughter’s freshman year she decided to step away from the sport. “Listen to your kid,” Cole says. “They know what they need. When they say, ‘I’m ready to put my stick down,’ it can be hard because the whole family is walking away from it.”

Westlake Legal Group Untitled-83 Here’s what it’s really like to be recruited as a college athlete in NoVA the st. james Students Sports soccer scholarship recruitment recruiting Lacrosse high school athlete football family life Family Culture Features athletics athletes
Welcome to the Big Show: Mitch Griffis, 17, a rising senior at Broad Run High School in Ashburn, was recruited by a dozen Division I schools. (Photo by Jonathan Timmes)
Dreams Require Sacrifice

Football is the one sport that offers full scholarships, but not every player will be recruited by a DI team. Myron Flowers, strength and conditioning director at The St. James, sees no shame in playing ball at a smaller school. “It doesn’t matter what school you go to, as long as they [the school] are willing to pay [the tuition],” he says. There are a lot of schools that have football teams that parents and students have never heard of, he says, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t competitive teams. This year, Flowers worked with 20 seniors; 16 received football scholarships. He counsels his athletes to “be the best player, student and person they can be, and see where the chips fall and accept whatever it is.”

And then there’s the quintessential high school athlete success story that every parent dreams about—the quarterback who gets recruited by a dozen DI schools. Mitch Griffis, 17, a rising senior, has been playing football for nearly 12 years. He was recruited by a dozen schools, including Harvard University, University of Maryland and Vanderbilt University, and received his first college offer January of his sophomore year. Last June, he accepted a full scholarship to play for Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in January 2020.

Mitch is clear-eyed about why he chose Wake Forest. “Definitely the coaching staff was the biggest reason why I felt it was the best fit,” he says. “They believe in the same things I do—moral character and work ethic.” He also liked that Wake Forest is close to home and it’s an Atlantic Coast Conference school.

None of his success has been accidental. Mitch’s father, Matt Griffis, started taking him to one-day recruiting camps at colleges the summer before he started ninth grade. “The purpose was for him to see what kind of talent was out there and what the college coaches were looking for,” says Matt, who is also the head football coach at Broad Run High School in Ashburn, where his son plays on the varsity team.

Don’t assume Mitch had it easy because his dad is the high school football coach. His weekly schedule leaves little room for free time. Every morning, except Wednesday, he lifts weights before school starts, from 7:15 to 8:45 a.m.; he does speed training three days a week; works on his football throws three days a week; and watches football videos three days a week for an hour to get a better understanding of the game. “There is always something you can learn,” he says. In between, he goes to school, studies, does homework and tries to sneak in time to hang out with friends.

Mitch understands that he has to make sacrifices to play football in college. “Lifting and throwing has to come in front of hanging out,” he says. It’s sometimes hard to say no to friends, he continues. “They give me a hard time but they understand.”

If They Don’t Make the Team

Playing a sport is a great way for students to make friends, learn leadership skills and life lessons. The danger comes when parents and students start setting unrealistic goals. “We really need to shift our culture away from asking, ‘Is my son or daughter good enough to play for the best team?’” Homer says.

Raising a student athlete can put extra stress on the entire family, Cole says. Someone has to get that student to games and to practice, and often the entire family’s weekend schedule revolves around tournaments. That’s a lot of pressure on the family, and it can feel like a full-time job to the student, she says. Sometimes when parents invest a lot of time and money into getting training and instruction for their student, they lose sight of the big picture and why their student started playing that sport.

It’s also not uncommon for students who play sports competitively to become isolated from other kids because they’re spending all their time practicing or competing, Cole says. Even when they’re with their teammates all weekend, they might not be developing friendships because they’re competing for a place on the team or playing time. “Make sure they’re doing things with friends outside their sport,” she says.

Playing the game can become such a big part of a student’s and the family’s life that, if high school ends, and they aren’t recruited to play in college, it can be difficult for the student and the family to handle. “Remind your student that they did their personal best,” Cole says. “Help them find a way to walk away from it.”

Meanwhile, Matthew spent Memorial Day weekend at a college showcase, where five coaches came to see him play soccer. Soon after that event, Matthew was offered his first college-roster spot. He and his father are reluctant to name the school because Matthew is still going through the recruiting process. Also, the offer is for a college they still need to visit, his father says. “It’s good to have one offer at this point,” Mike says, “because once other schools hear, it creates competitiveness among the coaches.”


Westlake Legal Group Untitled-75 Here’s what it’s really like to be recruited as a college athlete in NoVA the st. james Students Sports soccer scholarship recruitment recruiting Lacrosse high school athlete football family life Family Culture Features athletics athletes
Team Player: Mitch Griffis will play for Wake Forest University starting in January 2020. (Photo by Jonathan Timmes)
Recruiting Timeline

While every sport has a different recruiting timeline, most high school athletes start thinking about college recruiting in middle school. By junior year, many will already have written offers from colleges. Here’s a timeline of what to expect and how to prepare your student athlete.

8th grade

  • Develop a list of colleges your student would like to attend and play for. “Figure out what they like about the school,” says Doug Homer, director of soccer at The St. James. They will need to be prepared to verbalize why they want to attend the college and what they want to learn while they are there.
  • Join a travel team and start attending camps.
  • Start building a highlight reel.

9th grade

  • Visit a few colleges and start to whittle down your list.
  • Begin to reach out to coaches by email. Let them know you want to play for their school, send them your highlight reel and let them know what tournaments you will be playing in. Make sure the email comes from the student, not the parent. Keep in mind you might not hear back from coaches because some sports prevent coaches from communicating with players until their junior year.
  • Keep attending camps and showcases to get in front of coaches.

10th grade

  • Start looking at college rosters and determine how many players who play your position will still be on the team when you enroll in two years.
  • Research the graduate rate for athletic teams.
  • Evaluate the strength of the coaching staff. Have they been coaching there for a while? Is there staff turnover every two to three years?
  • Visit colleges, talk with coaches, meet with players and experience student life on campus.
  • Focus on your grades—understand what the school’s requirements are for GPA and SAT or ACT scores.

11th grade

  • By now, you should begin hearing from coaches and might even begin to receive formal offers.
  • Continue visiting colleges and talking with coaches.
  • Ask your student athlete why they want to be recruited by that school and whether it fits with their goals.

This story has been updated from its original print version.

This post was originally published in our August 2019 issue. To stay up to date with culture in Northern Virginia, subscribe to our newsletters.

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Video: Even College Students are Denouncing AOC’s Concentration Camp Comments

Westlake Legal Group Untitled-1-4-620x381 Video: Even College Students are Denouncing AOC’s Concentration Camp Comments Students Politics holocaust Front Page Stories Featured Story democrats concentration camp campus reform AOC Allow Media Exception Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

The controversial statements made by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have dominated the media for days now. What should have been an open and shut case of a politician saying something stupid has become a national conversation about what the term “concentration camp” implies.

This is mostly because a sympathetic media has been really reaching deep into their bucket of absurdity in order to run defense for their Democratic darling. It’s also because of Ocasio-Cortez’s mob of fans have gone above and beyond to make sure their leader remains untouchable.

Campus Reform’s Cabot Phillips decided to take the conversation out of the realm of the digital and see what people were saying in the streets. Despite AOC typically finding support within the younger crowds, Phillips found that even students at D.C.’s George Washington University couldn’t give their approval to the democratic socialist’s comparisons of Nazi death camps to the holding areas where Hispanic children illegally crossing the border are kept.

“I think she owes a major apology to the American people for comparing these detainment camps to one of the most horrific events ever in history,” said one of the students, adding that her comment is “an embarrassment to the Democratic Party.”

“I think that’s a bit extreme,” said another.

“To call them concentration camps where, you know, no one’s being killed en masse, or killed indiscriminately is a reach,” noted one student.

“You can’t be throwing the word ‘concentration camps’ around all willy-nilly,” says another.

One student said that Ocasio-Cortez is trying to stir her fans into rallying around her cause but that this kind of sensationalism is only going to annoy people.

Ocasio-Cortez is now on her third day of trying to justify her statements and has said that she will not apologize for what she said despite the fact that many have pointed out that her comments are unjustifiable.

The post Video: Even College Students are Denouncing AOC’s Concentration Camp Comments appeared first on RedState.

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High school students invited to tour 7 HBCU campuses on this college road trip

Westlake Legal Group college-graduates High school students invited to tour 7 HBCU campuses on this college road trip universities Students hbcus hbcu Family Education college
© methaphum / stock.adobe.com

School’s out for summer, but for high school students that means beginning of college tours and applications. X is Possible, a personal and professional development company, is hosting an “Education is Possible” HBCU college tour from June 23 to 26 for high school students to visit and learn more about historically black colleges and universities in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina.

Participants will visit seven campuses: Morgan State University, Bowie State University, Hampton University, Virginia State University, Norfolk State University, NC A&T University and North Carolina Central University.

The program also includes career tips, cultural enrichment and college prep components, including an event at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with a lab tour, two stops at historical landmarks and a college funding workshop presented by the United Negro College Fund.

Three nights of hotel lodging, ground transportation (by coach bus), meals and snacks and a 1-to-6 chaperone to student ratio are all included in the program. Registration for the tours close on June 10, and costs $750 per student. Attendance is limited to high school students, ninth grade to 12th grade.

Students will meet at a hotel in Maryland on June 23, and drop-off will be at a college in Washington, DC on June 26. (Details and addresses released to participants after registration.) For more information, click here.

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WATCH: Antifa Member Tries to Imprison Republican Students In a Room and Regrets It

A member of Antifa attempted to lock Republican students in a room while they were listening to a speaker but failed so spectacularly that he wound up in handcuffs himself.

According to KTTH the UW College Republicans were meeting in Thompson Hall to watch a guest speaker from YouTube channel Operation Cold Front. Emerald City Antifa apparently got wind of the event and decided it would try to take action with a call from its Facebook page.

Just a reminder to people at the UW that the Operation Cold Front crew (who you might remember from such antics as “It’s ok to be White” signs, transphobic harassment of students, posing as Black Lives Matter to ask for reparations, harassing people outside an abortion clinic, and more) will be having a speaking engagement at the UW June 3rd at 6pm in Thomson Hall rm 101. There’s space for 100 or so people, but for those who show up, some useful tactics might to sit in using large items that take up additional seats, maybe with headphones in so you don’t have to hear their garbage, or noise demo tactics such as whistles to make it difficult for them to speak over.

They have recently put out some very ugly, transphobic material and were harrassing queer students at Evergreen, and we hope that we can take some time out this Pride Month to have our queer siblings backs, and not allow these assholes to have a platform.

These people are Proud Boy chuds, and Proud Boy chud supporters, they have been caught on video yelling “yt power!” while harassing womxn, and have a history of harassing womxn (including one of the co-hosts who is an accused rapist). These people belong to the Him Too movement, an anti-MeToo, misogynist, homophobic, transphobic, “traditionalist” Men’s Rights trash fire. They should not be on campus bothering students.

So, if you’re able, show up to deplatform.

Apparently, the call went unanswered for the most part. The event went by pretty quietly with the speaker being uninterrupted. Near the end, however, one of the Republican students saw a man in black approach the door.

“I saw a guy in black approach the door but there had been no protest outside or anything so antifa wasn’t necessarily on my radar,” UWCR member Zach Wildfang told The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “He crouched down and immediately slapped his chain around the door.”

The chain made a racket as the Antifa member tried to wrap it around the handle and lock the Republicans inside.

“We heard the rattling from inside,” said UWCR president Chevy Swanson. “We looked to see through the window and see that someone was messing with the door. And it’s very clearly a chain being attached. So personally I ran up to the door and opened it on him, the chain fell to the ground, and he ran off, which is good because I much prefer not to be chained in a room with 30 other people indefinitely.”

As this happened a video camera was rolling. The moment the door is opened and the chain dropped, the college Republicans took off after the Antifa member who had fled the moment his plan failed.

The footage begins around the 50-minute mark.

“One of the other attendees of the event caught up to him and called the police and the police end up coming and arresting him,” said Swanson.

According to KTTH, the Antifa member was identified as 18-year-old Ezra Benner, who had reportedly shown up to previous Republican events but had never been disruptive.


The post WATCH: Antifa Member Tries to Imprison Republican Students In a Room and Regrets It appeared first on RedState.

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Alison Wolf: The Augar Review takes productivity, Industrial Strategy and skills seriously. Will the new Prime Minister listen?

Alison Wolf is professor of public sector management at King’s College London and a cross-bench peer. She was a member of the Post-18 Review of Education and Funding Independent Panel (the Augar Review) but writes in a personal capacity.

Last week, the Prime Minister launched the Augar Review of Post-18 Education and Funding. Her speech strongly endorsed some of its major recommendations, notably for further education. The media in the room duly directed their questions to issues affecting universities, ignoring the ‘other 50 per cent’ who don’t head straight to higher education. Wider media coverage also focused overwhelmingly on university fees, while various university bodies piled in with criticisms.

There was, meanwhile, near total radio silence from the main Conservative leadership contenders. As a member of the Augar panel, I’m personally relieved that they stayed quiet. A new government does not need expensive ill-understood commitments or ‘not on my patch’ promises, sparked during the campaign by lobbying or leading media questions. However, Augar addresses major issues, affecting our entire population, with large price tags attached. These will be waiting for the next Prime Minister.

A Westminster village take is that the Review was a panic-stricken response to Jeremy Corbyn’s promise to abolish university fees; and that with Labour also languishing among young voters, it’s no longer really relevant. That’s completely wrong. Our technical and adult education are in crisis. There is a growing gap between what the labour market demands and what post-18 education supplies. And polls and focus groups alike show strong public support for vocational and technical provision.

Augar provides what it says on the tin: a review of all post-18 education, and how to pay for it. And the review panel discovered that technical and further education were in even worse shape than any of us had realised. Courses teaching technician and advanced craft skills are vanishing from English education at speed, even though the economy is crying out for these skills. Today’s young people are effectively offered a single choice. A full degree, now – or nothing.

Overall, Augar’s recommendations are designed to reverse this idiocy, and to do so at little extra cost to the Exchequer. But of course, they are made within a wider fiscal context. A new Prime Minister will be heavily lobbied by the powerful education lobbies who represent universities and schools, and are focused on an imminent spending review.

Back in 2010, English universities got a major boost in their finances. Student fees of £9000 (now £9250) gave them a big increase in income per student. Universities have generally had an excellent decade, as one of the best-resourced systems in the world. They have also cemented their position among the world’s very best for quality and research productivity, and are enormously attractive to overseas students, who bring in over £15 billion a year in fees and other spending.

Compare this with the rest of education (let alone with social care). In schools, real spending in the sixth form has fallen by more than 20 per cent per student. Spending on 5 – 16 year olds has meanwhile been held fairly constant in real terms: but costs have risen faster than inflation, so there are plenty of school horror stories with which to fill the pages – and no doubt many more to come before the autumn spending review.

As for further education, which serves the whole non-university adult population from 18 to 85 plus, its funding has been devastated. The core adult education and skills budget has fallen by 45 per cent in real terms since 2010, student numbers have plummeted, and public spending per student is more than six times as high in universities as it is in the nation’s colleges.

This imbalance looks even harder to justify in the light of regional inequalities. Among young people in their late 20s, over half of the London-schooled went to university: it’s under 30 per cent in the North East and the South West. Except in London, young women are enormously and increasingly more likely to attend university than young men. So among young men in the North East, only one in five went on to university; in the South West, less than a quarter. The country’s single-minded determination to reach ‘50 per cent in HE’ has left a lot of people behind with no good alternatives.

Unfortunately, reform will face an additional obstacle this autumn. Universities’ good fortune – which they are, very naturally, defending – was fuelled by an illusion, and the Treasury is now facing the washback from its too-clever-by-half fiscal trick.

Sean Coughlan, the BBC’s education correspondent, described this far more vividly than we did, when he asked, last year: How can you lend someone almost £120 billion and not have a hole in your budget? Or how can you give out £17 billion, only receive back £3 billion and not be any worse off? Answer: When you’re the government and it’s the student loans system.

Student fees are paid to universities through a loan mechanism, and the Treasury decided that loans didn’t need to appear on the books as spending: after all, they would be repaid. But of course, that wasn’t actually true – only some of them would be. Under England’s ‘income contingent’ system, people, rightly, only pay education loans back as and when they earn a certain amount, and a lot will never be repaid. In his 2018 fiscal sustainability report, the head of the Office for Budget Responsibility observed that “The loan book is large and growing rapidly…the value of the outstanding loan book is set to rise to around 20 per cent of GDP by the 2040s.’

The Office for National Statistics has now called time on this piece of creative accounting. The money that won’t be repaid will have to be accounted for; and so a large part of the universities’ budget will be back on the table in the next spending review, to be fought over rather than safely ring-fenced as not really spending at all.

Until Corbyn suddenly launched his ‘no fees’ policy, there was, finally, a cross-party consensus in this country: the costs of higher education should be shared between the student and the taxpayer, the individual and the community. Politicians should be reassured that there is also strong support for this position in the population at large.

But things do need to be paid for. And in the super-complex world of education financing, it is essentially impossible to change anything without someone losing – and finding some moral high ground from which to attack the change. Augar does its sums and recommends more money for the neediest – cash to get FE back on its feet, to invigorate technical education, to allow adults to retrain and progress, and to reinstate maintenance grants for the poorest students. Its analysis takes productivity, skills gaps and the Industrial Strategy seriously. Come the autumn, we will find out whether a new government does the same.

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Alastair Thompson: The Augar Report’s proposals for student loan reform are a big step backwards

Alastair Thompson is reading Politics and Economics at Bath University.

The Government seems to have managed to encounter a new paradox.

Amongst a plethora of reforms proposed for university funding, the Augar Report has suggested that there should be a cut in tuition fees from £9,250 to £7,500; that the rate of interest applied to tuition fees should be capped from a maximum of RPI +3 per cent to simply RPI; and that tuition fee repayments, which should now last for 40 years instead of 30, should begin at £23,000 rather than the current level of £25,000.

These proposals, to many, would sound good at first. Cheaper tuition has been heralded by the left and many student bodies such as the NUS as a need for the future, and university interest rates appear bizarrely high.

Yet these proposals will undeniably harm poorer individuals and do absolutely nothing to change the current stresses encountered by university students.

The effect of the cut in tuition fees is rather negligible (the average maintenance loan is roughly £7,200). Therefore the yearly reduction in the overall level of debt added through fees and the maintenance loan is only 11 per cent.

The rather more substantial effect comes through the reduction in interest rates. Under the current system an individual who had taken the average maintenance loan and earned a pre-tax income of £53,600, which would place the earner into the richest ten per cent, would pay £77,220 across the 30 years and finally have their debt wiped at the colossal figure of £91,500.

In the proposed new system, that very same individual would pay back just under £59,000 over 29 years, having paid off their entire debt.

If the only effect of the proposed reforms was to end the way in which higher earners still face a seemingly eternal ‘debt’, then I suppose I might have been praising this as some way forward. Yet these reforms could strangle those who may already be struggling. In many ways the struggles associated with repaying student finance are caused by the fact it is treated as a ‘debt’ rather than the tax that it really is.

The repayments of student finance are a tax. The evidence that it is implemented directly to work as a tax is overwhelming. Say two individuals graduate with a debt of £52,000. One individual earns £27,500 for 30 years straight, and the other earns £32,600. Under the current system who has the most ‘debt’ wiped off at the end?

The one who earned £32,600 each year, as they are charged a higher level of interest to assure that they remain in a form of ‘debt’, the reality is to assure they keep paying a tax.

It seems fair that a debate should be had on the morality of applying a system which keeps people in an almost permanent debt. The current system of student finance means that to clear an individual’s debt (assuming they take the average maintenance loan and three years of university education) the required pre-tax income to wipe an individual’s debt is £66,000. To have £66,000 of pre-tax income would, according to the ONS in 2017, place an individual narrowly into the richest six per cent of earners.

The proposed changes, however, would only lower this to £43,916, which in the same year would be equivalent to those who scrape their way into the richest 15 per cent of earners. Theses are the individuals who would see no benefit from paying off their ‘debt’ as they reach this point as soon as their debts are about to be wiped clear.

The only individuals to benefit from the reformed proposals are those with higher incomes which would be able to take advantage of not paying the nine per cent tax applied to them for repaying the ‘debt’. Those who just scrape their way into the richest ten per cent of earners within 2017 would save £18,580 over their lifetime.

Yet individuals who never paid off their debt, the majority, would pay further twice over, firstly through the extra maximum of £180 directly per year from nine per cent of income between £23,000 and £25,000 now being taxed, and secondly from the additional ten years of student debt repayments.

When these proposals are assessed by the Government, and potentially the future Prime Minister, it could be a relatively insignificant moment in our party’s history. Yet alternatively it could be a defining moment. The chance for us to see what kind of Conservative Party we will be. I believe in low taxes, yet this proposal is in reality a tax rise for the majority of individuals.

Does taxing those with a pre-tax income of £32,600 an additional £14,000 over their lifetime sound like the kind of Conservative Party we should be in the future? To me we should be helping these people own their homes, potentially invest in businesses to make their local area thrive, and help them keep their money to assure economic security.

I don’t believe we should be overloading people with a tax into their sixties and taking thousands more of their income away from them. This is why I hope the next Conservative Party leader will toss out these regressive suggestions from the Augar Report.

If the Government wishes to help students it should look elsewhere, such as reforms to maintenance loans to support vulnerable students and those without family support. They might also consider shifting student loan repayments from being based on pre-tax to post-tax income, to help those struggling to make ends meet after graduation.

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The Media’s Sudden Disinterest in the Denver STEM School Shooting Proves Greater Interests In Agendas than You

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When the shooting at the Highlands Ranch, CO, Stem school happened, the world reacted in shock and horror that yet another student used a firearm to hurt or kill other students in a place that is supposed to be one of the safest places for your child to be.

News agencies across the country immediately took action, and activist groups began planning events to promote gun control. One such event occurred at the very location the shooting occurred. Students were duped into attending, believing it was a vigil of some kind, but walked away when they found out that the atrocity they endured was being politicized.

Facebook posts from concerned people dotted the social media site and Twitter was ablaze with anti-gun rhetoric once again.

And then it all suddenly went silent.

Now, the media seems far less interested in the shooting. An odd turnaround for the media who take every opportunity to hammer home the idea that guns are the problem in this nation, not something else. Why? It’s because the identity of the shooters was released, and it doesn’t fall in line with any of the approved columns for a media-based attack.

They found that one of the shooters is gay and another is transgendered and biologically female, as NBC reported in the update about her. Even NBC buried these facts in their own report about it, choosing instead to call the gay shooter a “bully” instead of highlighting their identities and backgrounds first:

The suspected shooter, Devon Erickson, “would whisper, like get really close and kinda put his arm around you, and whisper in your ear, ‘don’t come to school tomorrow,’” said Kevin Cole, a former student of STEM School Highlands Ranch, during an interview on “Today.”

Erickson, 18, and a juvenile, who police identify as a girl but who prefers male pronouns, are accused of entering the K-12 school with handguns Tuesday. NBC News is not identifying the juvenile suspect.

One of the shooters also expressed his hatred for Christians according to Heavy, which is also unfitting for reports as Christians are always the bad guys in the story.

“You know what I hate? All these Christians who hate gays, yet in the bible, it says in Deuteronomy 17:12-13, if someone doesn’t do what their priest tells them to do, they are supposed to die. It has plenty of crazy stuff like that, but all they get out of it is ‘ewwwwww gays,’” wrote Erickson in a Facebook post.

There was even anti-Christian messaging spraypainted on the shooter’s car before the attack, and the words “F*** SOCIETY.”

Worst of all, the shooter appeared to be a Democrat who posted memes and messages from the hard-left Facebook group “Occupy Democrats.”

None of this falls in line with what the shooter is supposed to be according to what the media likes to tell us. For mainstream press, the shooter is supposed to be white, male, straight, extremely right-leaning, and bonus points if he’s supposedly Christian. However, both of these shooters fall into their most protected groups.

Judging by how the media coverage and subsequent fallout from school shootings have gone in the past, the media seems absolutely silent in comparison now, but it’s easy to see why. All of its usual strawmen have been stripped away and its left with nothing but the cold reality that there was something mentally wrong with the two shooters.

All the shooters throughout history, when put together, are a diverse lot. They range from white to Middle-Eastern, to black. They’re left, right, white-supremacists and anti-Christian, gay and straight, women and men. While some killers tend to share more similarities with other killers, the point is clear: It’s not just what your background is.

There was clearly something wrong in the heads of the people who engage in these murders. However, the media doesn’t seem to be interested in investigating the demonstrable fact. They’ve now, for the most part, walked away from the Denver Stem school story. The students don’t seem to be as into making a political spectacle as some of the Parkland students were, and the shooters don’t fit the narrative.

The media loves bloodshed, but not bloodshed it can’t use. It doesn’t care about how safe you are, and I’d venture to say that it waits with bated breath for the next opportunity. I wish I was being hyperbolic, but the media has clearly demonstrated that I’m not.

The post The Media’s Sudden Disinterest in the Denver STEM School Shooting Proves Greater Interests In Agendas than You appeared first on RedState.

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Beto caves to Sunrise Movement kids, takes No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge

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Beto O’Rourke rolled out his first big policy plan Monday. The subject was climate change. Unfortunately for Beto, the policy he called “the most ambitious climate plan in the history of the United States” was a flop with some far left climate change extremists so by Wednesday he flipped. The Sunrise Movement kids didn’t like his policy because it wasn’t extreme enough for them.

Under the plan — which would includes $1.5 trillion investment intended to “mobilize” an additional $5 trillion over 10 years — O’Rourke says the United States can achieve net zero emissions by 2050. It includes broad promises to rejoin the Paris agreement, cut pollution, and protect communities impacted by fires, floods, droughts and hurricanes.

“We have one last chance to unleash the ingenuity and political will of hundreds of millions of Americans to meet this moment before it’s too late,” O’Rourke said Monday.

Sunrise Movement is powered by school-age kids and college students who show up to protest and lobby politicians to produce an environmental policy that suits their desires. They are very supportive of the Green New Deal with little concern for its costs.

A group of Sunrise Movement members at William and Mary College in Virginia apparently got to O’Rourke during a recent visit. He specifically gave them a shout-out in his video announcing his decision to sign the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge. That was quite a bold move from a candidate from Texas.

Beto was fine with oil and gas money, you see, until now. He said in the video that he will return all fossil fuel money, over $200.00, and not accept any more going forward. Democrats have criticized O’Rourke for accepting oil and gas company donations in past campaigns.

Behind the scenes, Democrats have also grumbled about O’Rourke’s progressive values, saying it remains to be seen if the former congressman is as progressive as he’d like to portray himself. They highlight O’Rourke’s family wealth and the financial contribution his previous campaigns received from the oil and gas industry.

While he’s signaled support for the Green New Deal, for example, Democrats say that O’Rourke needs to fill in the blanks on where he stands on other issues.

Beto’s policy roll-out caught the attention of Sunrise Movement director Varshini Prakash. While noting some good ideas in his plan, she criticized the timeline he put forth. She created a thread on Twitter of her concerns. Beto originally told college students in Iowa in April that he set 2030 as the goal for net-zero domestic emissions but his plan ended up setting the goal as 2050. She created some controversy over her reaction, though so she posted a tweet about it explaining her reaction.

That tweet was posted at 12:46 P.M. Wednesday afternoon. By 8:44 P.M. she welcomed Beto’s participation by taking the pledge. There’s a tweet for everything these days.

Climate change is a top issue for Democrat voters. Some of the 2020 Democrat presidential candidates have signed on to the pledge, including Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Kirsten Gillibrand. It will be interesting to watch and see if Joe Biden takes the pledge now that he’s officially in the race.

Thursday the House will vote on legislation that stops President Trump from pulling out of the Paris climate agreement. Wednesday was a day of debating the costs of the agreement. Many Republicans have no problem acknowledging that climate change is real, though Democrats paint all Republicans as climate change deniers. The truth is that most Republicans acknowledge that there is a natural cycle of climate change produced by Mother Nature. Some of the change may be caused by emissions in the atmosphere but America leads the way in reducing emissions. Our goals have been met and have even exceeded original predictions. There is little chance that the Senate will pass the House’s bill. And, surely President Trump would veto it.

Republicans are not willing to paint American prosperity driven by fossil fuels as the boogeyman. Fossil fuels have raised millions of people around the world out of poverty and into better lives, for example, with the creation of electricity in desperately poor areas. Big Oil is an easy target for politicians and it’s telling that only now O’Rourke is willing to stop taking campaign contributions from this sector. Oil and gas companies are at the forefront of developing and utilizing new technology that is more environmentally friendly. A Texan like Beto O’Rourke knows all of this but has instead chosen to cave to the whims of young radical environmentalists.

The post Beto caves to Sunrise Movement kids, takes No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge appeared first on Hot Air.

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Nick Hillman: Don’t be swayed by the outrage. Treating EU students like other non-British students makes sense.

Nick Hillman is the Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, and is a former Special Adviser to David Willetts, then Minister for Universities and Science. This piece is written in a personal capacity.

The media is full of stories saying that the Government will soon confirm EU students in England are to be treated like other foreign students after Brexit. This means the former will have to pay full international fees, not the lower home fees. Plus, they will no longer have access to subsidised tuition fee loans. That is a real double whammy.

Twitter is suitably outraged. The decision will hit our universities, impoverishing them financially and intellectually, and is at one with the Government’s hostile attitude towards students from other countries. Or so it is claimed.

In fact, it’s a lot more complicated than that.

International students, whether they hail from another EU country or from a non-EU country undoubtedly benefit the UK. Typically, they come here, spend lots of money and then go home again, generally with warm thoughts about their host nation. The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), for which I work, has shown just one cohort of international students bringing net benefits of over £20 billion. Every constituency gains.

I have long argued that the Government’s approach to international students is their worst higher education policy. I argued against it inside Whitehall, as Special Adviser to David Willetts during the Coalition. I have argued against it outside Whitehall, too. Since I became Director of HEPI in 2014, our three biggest reports have been on the benefits that international students bring to the UK.

But, despite the real problems with the Government’s general approach to international students, the idea that EU students should come to be treated like other non-British students makes sense.

First, there is the moral case.

While we are in the European Union, there is a defensible logic in having more generous rules for students from fellow EU states. The arrangements are all part of the reciprocity that comes from being in the club. If we are not in the EU, there is no easy way to defend charging richer Germans much less to study here than poorer Indians.

European nations are predominantly white and non-EU international students typically come from countries where white people tend to be in a minority. So maintaining the current rules would be exceptionally hard to defend for other reasons too. (Some people claim it would be illegal as well, but the specifics are murky so lawyers may need to clarify that in due course.)

Secondly, there is the economic case.

Student loans have a cost to British taxpayers because the repayment terms mean much of the money is never repaid. There is a strong case for this for home students. Their families are likely to be contributing to the Exchequer in other ways and they are likely to end up as UK taxpayers themselves. (US states charge less to in-state students for the same reasons.) There is also a logic to subsidising EU students while we remain a member state. But the logic doesn’t so easily apply to residents of anywhere beyond the UK after Brexit.

Remember, the Office for National Statistics are about to reclassify student loan write-off costs as current public spending (rather than a cost that falls far in the future). So the Treasury has to decide whether continuing to subsidise students from other EU countries to study here is a more urgent priority than other public spending needs. Cutting A&E waiting lists, raising school funding, spending more on research or future tax cuts may seem more palatable.

This all brings us, as with so much else, to Margaret Thatcher. When she was a newly-installed Prime Minister, her Government abolished the subsidy that once existed for students coming to study in the UK from outside Europe. Overnight, they became liable for much higher fees.

The higher education sector was united in its outrage. Labour’s Education spokesman, Neil Kinnock, told the House of Commons:

“It is apparent that the policy has not a single friend. We hear nothing but continual criticisms—some extremely bitter and loud—of the Government’s policy from the Royal Commonwealth Society and the British Council to the Association of Navigation Schools, from the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals of the United Kingdom Universities and the Committee of Directors of Polytechnics to every university, polytechnic and college of higher or further education, every education trade union and every students’ union. Disagreement with the Government’s policy is not limited to those sources. We have also heard criticisms from Conservative students, just as we have heard them, in a courageous and direct form, from Conservative Back Benchers.”

They were all wrong. We can date the UK’s success in attracting people from other countries to study here from that decision. Once universities could charge international students the full economic costs of their education and more, there was an incentive to recruit them. The number of students from other countries started rising fast because, in the words of Derek Bok (a former President of Harvard), universities resemble exiled European royalty and compulsive gamblers in their insatiable appetite for money.

We have calculated that international students who come to the UK now cross-subsidise research by £8,000 each. Without this funding, our higher education sector would be poorer, less good and lower down the global league tables.

I am not saying Brexit is bound to lead to a big growth in EU student arrivals. History doesn’t always repeat itself. The impending changes to the student finance rules for EU students really could put people off coming here to study, even though our universities boast so many strengths and teach in English. Many European countries have fantastic universities of their own and, often, they are free to attend. Research we commissioned concluded Brexit could mean a decline in students from other EU countries of over 50 per cent.

But I am worried that people are opposing the rumoured change to funding for EU students without any sufficiently strong arguments to win the debate. That would be counter-productive because it deflects from the more important task of ensuring the whole post-Brexit migration system makes sense.

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Military children can earn two college credits at the HOBY World Leadership Congress

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Logo courtesy of Hope For The Warriors

Hope For The Warriors, a national nonprofit organization that provides assistance to combat-wounded service members and their families, has partnered with Hugh O’Brian Youth (HOBY) to create two Hope For The Warriors HOBY Sponsorship Scholarships.

Now accepting applications through Wednesday, May 15, the two scholarships will be given to military children who are rising high school sophomores and juniors. The scholarships are for the HOBY World Leadership Congress, where students have the option to earn two college credits.

Based in Chicago, the HOBY World Leadership Congress is a weeklong summer program promoting students to become leaders within society, offering leadership exercises and activities. Highlights of the program include keynote speeches, panels, mentor meetings, mixed-culture student groups to promote diversity, interactive workshops and community service projects.

To apply for the scholarship, or to find out more information, visit hopeforthewarriors.org.

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