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Northeastern hosts top higher ed official

CSSH students participate in round table discussion.

North­eastern Uni­ver­sity con­vened a round­table on higher edu­ca­tion on Thursday after­noon with U.S. Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion Under Sec­re­tary Ted Mitchell and local uni­ver­sity leaders.

Mitchell over­sees higher edu­ca­tion in the U.S. and the fed­eral stu­dent aid pro­gram. Stephen W. Director, Northeastern’s provost and senior vice pres­i­dent for aca­d­emic affairs, hosted the meeting and dis­cussed topics including the fed­eral Perkins loan pro­gram, pro­viding more flex­i­bility in the work study pro­gram to allow stu­dents to use those funds for co-​​op, and the university’s recent survey on Gen­er­a­tion Z.

Fol­lowing the round­table, in a meeting with North­eastern stu­dents and young alumni, Mitchell noted the Obama administration’s three pri­or­i­ties in higher edu­ca­tion: access, afford­ability, and outcomes.

Mitchell talked with stu­dents and alumni about finan­cial aid and the Obama administration’s forth­coming col­lege rat­ings system, intended to raise the bar on higher edu­ca­tion insti­tu­tions’ public account­ability and pro­vide infor­ma­tion to fam­i­lies making col­lege deci­sions. But the con­ver­sa­tion largely focused on Northeastern’s sig­na­ture co-​​op pro­gram, the cor­ner­stone of the university’s expe­ri­en­tial learning model. North­eastern placed stu­dents in 9,823 co-​​ops across all seven con­ti­nents in 2013–2014, and the number of global co-​​ops has increased 407 per­cent since 2006–2007.

Stu­dents and alumni con­sis­tently praised the co-​​op program—not only how it influ­enced their deci­sion to attend North­eastern, but the impact it has since had on their col­lege expe­ri­ence. Fourth-​​year stu­dent Marvin McMoore,SSH’15, explained how his co-​​ops and other pro­fes­sional expe­ri­ences have trans­lated to his class­work. McMoore, a polit­ical sci­ence major, is the pres­i­dent of the Col­lege Democ­rats of Mass­a­chu­setts and has worked on numerous polit­ical cam­paigns and activ­i­ties throughout his North­eastern experience.

Working on polit­ical cam­paigns def­i­nitely added to my aca­d­e­mics and how I approach it,” he said.

Third-​​year stu­dent Ana Tar­betsky, a soci­ology major who is pur­suing minors in Spanish, lin­guis­tics, and psy­chology, noted that finan­cial aid assis­tance and her inter­na­tional expe­ri­ences at North­eastern are inter­twined. Finan­cial aid, she said, played an impor­tant role in her par­tic­i­pa­tion in the university’s Dia­logue of Civ­i­liza­tions pro­gram as well as her upcoming co-​​op at the Uni­ver­sity of Sydney in Australia.

Without the finan­cial aid, there’s no way I would’ve had the inter­na­tional expe­ri­ence, and that’s some­thing that’s really shaped my life because I’d like to do grad­uate school in Sydney,” she said.

Group mem­bers also cred­ited Northeastern’s career ser­vices office and their co-​​op advisers for preparing them well for their pro­fes­sional expe­ri­ences. “It’s amazing how much it pre­pares you not just for co-​​op but also get­ting a job long term,” said Jordan Lieberman, DMSB/SSH’15, who noted that he’s had a pro­fes­sional resume since his freshman year.

After the meeting, Mitchell said he was impressed with the stu­dents and young alumni’s ability talk about co-​​op and its con­nec­tion to their work and the real world.

North­eastern has con­tributed to their devel­op­ment in ways that they can mark and mea­sure,” Mitchell said. He added, “What I learned from (the stu­dents) is that they are engaged with the world.”

-By Greg St. Martin

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