Introducing Middle School Students
to College Life
By Mary Beth Schaefer, Ed.D.
When I think about my plan to bring 50 middle school students to
St. John’s University all day for a week in February, I get sweaty
palms, palpitations and the need to relive my Lamaze breathing
exercises. But while I scold myself for undertaking this frankly
scary endeavor, there is another part of me that simply cannot wait
for the events of the week to unfold. What will these 8th grade
students think as they sit for an hour each day in a lecture hall
and hear what life was really like in medieval times? Will they
choose to go to a computer class each day, or will they prefer the
speech class? Maybe they will sign up for the introduction to law
class—or join a pharmacy professor for an investigation of toxins
in the body.
amazes me most about planning for this program is the willingness
of professors to participate. Almost everyone I ask not only says
“yes” immediately, but loves the idea of offering middle school
students a taste of college life. Intuitively, many professors seem
to know what I’ve found in the research: that offering real
experiences of college positively impacts students’ perceptions of
and readiness for college life. That alone should be the reward for
me, and it’s what I hold in my head when the “what ifs” threaten my
beauty sleep. So if you happen to be on campus during the week of
February 22-25, look for crowds of very young people walking calmly
from class to class—perhaps with a mildly panicked-looking,
puffy-eyed professor trailing and breathing audibly behind
If you would like to get in touch with Dr. Schaefer about her work,
you can e-mail her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Exploring Educational Engagement in
By Mary Ann Maslak, Ph.D.
Conducting educational research in foreign countries furthers our
understanding of both students and schools in that country. Reports
show that students from ethnic minority groups residing in poor,
rural areas in the People’s Republic of China have lower
enrollment, higher dropout rates, and larger gender gaps in than
the Han. Research indicates students’ perceptions about schooling
contribute to their decisions to stay in school. The international
education literature terms this “educational engagement.”
A few years ago, I was awarded a Fulbright Research Fellowship to
study ethnic minority education in the People’s Republic of China.
In the research study cited below, my co-authors and I used a
subset of the data collected during that fellowship to investigate
ethnic minority students’ views on educational engagement. The
findings include descriptive statistics, as well as significant
differences on gender and group status on some
If you are interested in reading this work, please see the
following citation and link to the article.
Maslak, M. A. & Kim, J. H., McLoughlin, A. (2010). Educational
Engagement in China: A Case from the Northwest.
International Journal of Educational Development, 30 (3):
Traveling to and living in a foreign country can be exciting and
fun, but it can also be challenging and difficult! I learned as
much about myself (traveling alone) as I did about education
(learning from those around me) during my residence in the People’s
Republic of China. I believe I am a more informed and independent
person as a result of these experiences. I hope the work that has
been generated from this experience adds to the collection of
knowledge in the field of international education. I employ
many photos of this experience in the courses that I teach at St.
John’s. If you take my courses, you will be given a first-hand
opportunity to view the world through my eyes. If you do not have
the opportunity to take my courses, I invite you to visit me during
one of my office hours!
If you would like to get in touch with Dr. Maslak about her work,
you can e-mail her at: email@example.com.