All Articles Tagged "college"

Thundercakes Founder Courtnee Futch Took A Dorm Room Baking Business To The Big Stage

October 8th, 2014 - By Rana Campbell
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With love and butter. That’s the slogan of Thundercakes, a bakery that serves custom order cakes, brownies, cupcakes, cheesecakes and cookies to the Syracuse University and surrounding community. Thundercakes was founded by Syracuse University senior Courtnee Futch in 2012 when she was only a freshman. Under her direction, the company has won over $20,000 in grant funding and several business and entrepreneurship awards. We caught up with Futch to learn more what inspired Thundercakes, how she manages college and entrepreneurship, business challenges and success, and why she’s on track to rake in millions in the next five years.

Madame Noire (MN): What inspired you to start Thundercakes?

Courtnee Futch (CF):  I never had any entrepreneurial goals. A moment of desperation is what launched me into my passion. It was midnight on March 25, 2012. I finally checked my banking account after avoiding it for several  months. I had $6.14. I panicked and immediately starting thinking what I could do to make some quick, legal money. The first thing that came to mind was baking. I’ve always been a baker and was self-taught, but joined the culinary team when I got to high school. People already knew me as a baker on campus so it was easy to launch. The first thing that came to mind was Thundercakes because my nickname was the  “Chocolate Thunder.”

I made a group on Facebook called Thundercakes by Courtnee. The first thing I made were 40 bacon chocolate rice crispy treats with white chocolate and caramel drizzle. It sold out in under an hour. Everything took off on its own and spread far beyond what I imagined. People have been able to  order from a menu and eventually from the website.  On the Syracuse University campus, there really isn’t too much as far as gourmet dessert options. That was me. Now I am filling a very specific niche in the marketplace.

MN: You’ve made over $80,000 in profit over the last two years. What processes did you put in place to generate such a profit?

CF: Baking is a very interesting industry to be in because typically there is a very good profit margin when you are running the business the way I run it. By not having a physical storefront location, I am saving so much overhead. It doesn’t cost me very much to rent my kitchen. Ingredients don’t cost a whole lot. Each of the things on my menu, I only make them when people order them. That saves a lot of time and allows me to be really scant with my resources.  I take that money and put it to the side for my education and my salary. I’m paying myself, which is something I wasn’t doing at first.

New Poll Finds Most Americans Don’t Believe College Is Important

September 17th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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Used to be if you were going to tell your parents you weren’t going to college you better be calling them from out of state. But now it seems a majority of Americans don’t think it is important to go to college. According to an annual poll about Americans’ education views, only 44 percent of Americans believe that getting a college education is “very important.” This is a major drop from 75 percent four years ago. This means most Americans don’t think it’s important to get a college education.

The poll is the 46th annual PDK-Gallup poll, and has been conducted with Gallup every year since 1969. PDK is a global association of education professionals.

Many parents find college costs too high. In fact, only 69 said it was “somewhat” or “very likely” that they would be able to pay for college for their oldest child. In 2010 it was 77 percent.

“On the whole, Americans are doubtful about students’ career readiness. Just 3 percent of Americans say a high school dropout is ready for the world of work, and just 13 percent say a high school grad is ready. Thirty-seven percent of Americans agree that college grads are ready for the work world, and fewer (31 percent) agree high school grads are ready for college,” reports The Washington Post.

The two-part poll had other interesting findings: Six of 10 Americans said entrance requirements into teacher preparation programs should be more rigorous; 61 percent of Americans opposed using student standardized test scores to evaluate teachers; and 58 percent said the curriculum used in their community’s schools needs to change.

Surprisingly, Americans believe in the public school system. Some 64 percent of Americans (and the same percentage of public school parents) says they have “trust and confidence” in public school teachers. This was down a little from 78 percent in 2013. But 81 percent said that new teachers should be required to take a test similar to a “bar exam” that prospective lawyers must take before practicing law.

The pollsters also asked whether Americans believe the country should provide a free public education to the children of undocumented immigrants. Forty-nine percent said yes, a slight increase from last years 44 percent.

Let’s ask you: How is important is college?

Columbia Student Carries Around Mattress As Long As She Attends The Same School As Her Rapist

September 4th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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Columbia Student Carries Around Mattress As Long As She Attends The Same School As Her Rapist

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At this point, rape on college campuses is a well-documented problem. And though we’re more cognizant of the issue, it doesn’t mean that universities and even police departments are doing their due diligence in investigating and prosecuting rape cases.

Unfortunately, one Columbia University student knows this all too well.

Emma Sulkowicz reported her rape to the university. But when they failed to take action she filed a police report against her alleged rapist, fellow Columbia student, Jean-Paul Nungesser.

According to the police report Sulkowicz had consensual sex with Nungesser twice before the alleged attack. Two years ago, on August 27, Sulkowicz said the two started to have consensual sex again when things turned violent.

On the report Sulkowicz said Nungesser hit her across the face, choked her and pushed her knees to her chest, leaning on them to keep them up. He then held Sulkowicz’s wrists as he penetrated her anally.

Sulkowicz told him to stop but he did not. She struggled with him but he kept going. And then stopped suddenly without ejaculating.

Initially, Sulkowicz didn’t file a complaint through the university because she was embarrassed and ashamed of what had happened.

Sulkowicz told the Columbia Daily Spectator, “When it first happened, I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I didn’t even tell my parents…I didn’t even want to talk to my best friend.”

But then she learned that there were two other women who claimed that Nungesser had assaulted them as well.

That’s when she went to the university.

“I realized that if I didn’t report him he’d continue to attack women on this campus. I had to do it for those other women.”

The university ultimately told her that they were not responsible. The same decision was given to the other two women who reported their incidents.

Sulkowicz took her story to the police and unfortunately, their response wasn’t much better.

Sulkowicz said, “There’s a reason survivors choose not to go to the police, and that’s because they’re treated as criminals. The rapists are innocent until proven guilty but survivors are guilty until proven innocent, at least in the eyes of the police.”

When she filed the report the officer kept emphasizing the fact that they had had consensual sex before. The officer kept asking what Nungesser was wearing that night and was surprised when Sulkowicz couldn’t remember specific details which occurred more than a year and a half ago.

When she was done speaking to the officer, he told her friend, “Of all of these cases, 90 percent are bullshit, so I don’t believe your friend for a second.”

Needless to say the investigation didn’t go far.

But Sulkowicz, a visual arts major, decided not to stop speaking about her experience. Instead, she turned it into her senior art project.

It’s a performance art piece called “Carry That Weight” Sulkowicz carries around her dorm mattress wherever she goes for as long as she’s attending the same school as her rapist.

See what she had to say about the piece and what she hopes people take from it in the video below.

Should You Have To Sign A Contract Of Consent Before Sex?

July 1st, 2014 - By Charing Ball
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A new bill working its way through the California legislation will likely revolutionize the way college campuses and students consent to sexual activity. But are the proposed changes the kind of changes needed?

The bill is called SB-967, and it was introduced by California Democratic state Sens. Kevin De Leon and Hannah-Beth Jackson, as well as coauthored by Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal. And according to the language, the bill seeks to amend the student safety section of the state’s Education Code, to require college students in particular to provide “affirmative consent” prior to engaging in any sexual activity, including kissing.

According to various published reports, the bill, which has already passed the state senate and is working its way through the state Assembly, would also require California colleges and universities receiving state funds for financial aid to create and implement policies and standards to not only address affirmative consent, but also for those institutions to “implement comprehensive prevention and outreach programs addressing sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.”

As many supporters of the legislations have noted, this bill does away with the often murky blurred lines of consent, which results from tough to prove cases of sexual assault like date rape and when the victim is intoxicated or passed out. Now alleged offenders would have to prove that consent in the affirmative was given prior to engaging in sex, as opposed to the old way, which relied on alleged victims of sexual assault, having to prove that they said no.

However the response to the bill has been a pretty mixed bag. As Emma Woolf writes in her piece for The Daily Beast, entitled Does California’s College Rape Bill Go Too Far In Regulating Sex?, the bill has its problems, particularly how -as it is currently written – a consenting couple would have to seek permission for each sexual act, prior to it actually occurring. And by definition, that would make every single sexual act in the state of California rape in the pretext. More specifically she notes:

But what about regular physical intimacy between regular (non-criminal) students? Are we in danger, in the rush to legislate, of ruining the moment? When I was a teenager, the stages of physical intimacy were called bases: so you might go to first base, second base, third base, or “all the way.” (I don’t remember any young men checking in between bases…)

Comedians love to satirise this kind of law: “May I touch your left breast?’ “You may touch my left breast’; “May I touch your right breast?’ etc. Comedy aside, the conviction rate for rape and other sexual crimes is scandalously low, and this bill seems unlikely to right that wrong. The tragic fact is that rape can and does happen within marriages: once again, SB 967 does nothing to address that.

But in a response to those criticisms, Martha Kemper of the reproduction rights and sexual health website, Reality Check, points out in her piece, Is Affirmative Consent the Answer to Sexual Assault on College Campuses?, that kind of thinking belittles the act of consent and the paranoia of those who are being overly sensitive. Instead, Kemper writes about the law’s potential to address rape culture as a whole:

But communication is still important. Young men have been taught by our society that their role in relationships is to want sex badly, and women’s is to reluctantly give it to them. Many have never really been taught what is and isn’t consent—except, perhaps, “no means no.” That does not excuse any man who rapes, but it is a problem. Fostering a culture of affirmative consent among both parties could prevent at least some men from raping.”

That is an important point to note considering the US Department of Education is currently investigating 55 colleges and universities for allegedly mishandling sexual assault cases. Personally, I feel like this law is potentially some game-changing stuff here. In addition to getting folks to think in new ways about how we communicate sexually including consent. It looks like it will begin to hold education institutions more accountable. But I do worry about the implication and those pesky grey areas. Like how can expressed consent, particularly the verbal kind, be proven when the people involved are disputing the claim? And whose word will matter more? If the we currently treat sexual assault victims in the legal justice system is any indication, potential victims of sexual assault might run into some of the same institutional barriers and biases, particularly the discrediting women through slut-shaming, they had before.

 

 

College Admission Rate Drops! More High School Graduates Are Skipping Higher Ed

April 26th, 2014 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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More and more, students fresh out of high school are choosing to side-step the four-year college experience — college enrollment dropped 70 to 65 percent in just five years. Perhaps — oh, I don’t know — the ridiculously high price tag on higher education could be the reason?

Skyrocketing tuition, according to Entrepreneur, isn’t the only reason though. The job market is beginning to restore itself back to health. As a result, high school graduates are jumping right into the job search and skipping college altogether. More than one-third of last year’s three million high school graduates decided not to pursue a higher education in the fall. This is “the lowest share of new graduates since 2006,” FiveThirtyEightEconomics added.

Those not enrolled in college are more than twice as likely to be looking for a job than their enrolled counterparts — 74.2 percent compared to 34.1 percent, according to a Labor Department report released on Tuesday.

“Why go to college when more than half of college graduates get stuck in the same underpaying jobs as the rest of the country? The only way to get ahead is to start your own business…our education system teaches people how to be employees, not employers,” said one Entrepeneur commenter.

While many high school graduates may share the same sentiment, research shows that a post-secondary education still holds plenty of value in the U.S. economy. Workers (over the age of 25) who did not attend college have an unemployment rate of 6.3 percent; compare this to the 3.4 percent unemployment rate of their college-educated counterparts, according to the March jobs report.

“In addition, a college education translated into significantly more money per year (an average annual income of $45,0000 versus $28,000),” Entrepreneur added.

So college definitely pays off, but it’s too bad that many just cannot afford it — 62 percent of high school grads, according to Forbes, could not afford to attend their first choice college in 2013. With rising tuition costs and poor returns on investment, it’s completely understandable why dropping ungodly amounts of cash on additional schooling might seem nutty. However, in the long-term, choosing to skip college typically has financial consequences.

“College graduates earn 50 percent more than those with a high school diploma. Over the course of a career, college graduates earn more than half a million dollars more on average, even after factoring in the cost of going to school,” FiveThirtyEight said.

“I Have Left The Plantation To Get My Freedom” High School Student Protests University Of Michigan Rejection Letter

April 21st, 2014 - By Madame Noire
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From BlackVoices 

Brooke Kimbrough, an 17-year-old high school senior, always dreamed of attending the University of Michigan.

But when she received her rejection letter in the mail this spring, Kimbrough took an unusual step: she held a news conference and rally at the campus to protest the decision.

“I fervently believe in black equality,” Kimbrough explained in a statement. “I believe that our public university system should provide a pathway for opportunity for underrepresented minority communities. I am appealing my application to the University of Michigan not only for myself, but for other black and minority students who deserve the equal opportunity to go to the best public university in the nation.”

Kimbrough, a senior at University Preparatory Academy in Detroit, says she’s taking a stand on behalf of other minority applicants to the elite public university, located in Ann Arbor, Mich. Less than 5 percent of the student body is African-American; of the state’s total population, more than 14 percent are black, according to the 2012 U.S. Census.

At the rally Tuesday, Kimbrough also promised to publicize more rejection letters from minority students until her public appeal for a spot in next fall’s freshman class is granted.

“I have left the plantation to get my freedom but I am coming back for you too,” she said in a video posted by Fox 2 Detroit.

Read more about this case at BlackVoices.com 

Zero Tuition?! State Passes Bill, Allows Students To Attend College Without Paying a Dime!

April 20th, 2014 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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We never thought we’d see the day! Tennessee legislators passed a bill that will offer high school students the opportunity to attend two-year colleges tuition-free, ThinkProgress reports.

To be signed into law, all it needs is a signature from Gov. Bill Haslam (R), who has promised to improve graduation rates from 32 percent to 55 percent by 2025. On Tuesday, the House approved the plan, called the “Tennessee Promise,” just a day after the Senate’s 30-1 vote, according to News Channel 5.

The program is expected to cost the state $34 million a year. It will be paid for by “using $300 million in excess lottery reserve funds and by creating a $47 million endowment,” ThinkProgress adds. In addition, scholarships offered to students attending four-year colleges will be reduced from $4,000 down to $3,500 for freshman and sophomores. For juniors and seniors, however, they will see their scholarships increase to $4,500.

In order to participate in the “Tennessee Promise,” students must have a high school diploma, maintain a 2.0 grade point average, meet with a mentor, and engage in community service.

Tennessee isn’t the only state seeking to aid students pursuing a higher education. Florida, Oregon, and Mississippi are mulling over the implementation of zero college tuition programs as well. Other states, like New Jersey, have been considering the “Pay It Foward” plan. This will allow students to attend two-year colleges and public universities free of charge, but they’ll need to surrender 1.5 percent of their paychecks, for 20 years, after graduation.

The federal government, according to ThinkProgress, just might take it a step further and make public colleges free for all:

“For the amount that it already spends on subsidizing the cost of college through grants, tax breaks, and work-study funds — or about $69 billion — it could instead make tuition at all public colleges free for about $63 billion.”

In the face of competition, this could be a huge incentive for private universities to lower their exorbitant tuition fees as well. As the cost of four-year public colleges have skyrocketed by 27 percent over the last five years, these plans to ensure an affordable education for college-bound students couldn’t have come at a better time.

Lauren London On Avoiding The Video Girl Curse & Skipping College

March 13th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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This past weekend, MadameNoire had the opportunity to attend the Disney Dreamers Academy hosted by Disney (obviously) in conjunction with Steve Harvey and Essence Magazine. As we’ve mentioned before, this event is meant to inspire students to pursue their dreams and encourage them to complete the necessary work to do so.

Throughout the weekend several celebrity guests stopped by to encourage these 100 high school students. And one of them was actress Lauren London. Lauren spoke to the students about the importance of having a positive attitude when she recalled the time she lost a poetry competition as a teenager. She said after she’d lost one of the judges came up to her and told her that based on her work alone, she would have won but her attitude was so stank, the judges felt the audience would relate to the other girl and so they gave the prize to her.

She learned from that experience and took the importance of having a positive attitude with her. That was certainly our experience when we spoke to her. A complete sweetheart.

In our interview with London she spoke to us about how she managed to avoid the video girl trap and the extra work a person will have to put in if they decide not to go to college.

See what she had to say in the video above.

I Have Two Degrees And He Never Finished College, Am I Settling?

February 18th, 2014 - By Madame Noire
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From Essence 

Dr. Sherry,

I’m totally confused about what to do in my relationship. “Alex” and I dated once before a few years ago and it didn’t work out. I wasn’t where I wanted to be professionally and neither was he, so we broke up. He has three children (all from his ex) and I have a son. My son doesn’t care for him, but I’ve fallen in love and I can’t figure out why. He never finished college and I have two degrees. He makes a good living but it’s manual labor and it’s taking a toll on his health. I love that he accepted me at my worst and still loves me when I’m thriving and succeeding. The thing is, I feel like I’m settling. His manners are subpar, he dresses like a 9-year-old boy, and he never helps in the house when he’s over, unless I nag him. I don’t know if I want to raise three more children, and again, my son can’t stand him. I don’t know if I’m with him because the sex is amazing and because he loves me or if I just don’t want to be alone. I do love him; I’m just not sure if it’s enough to overlook his flaws. Help.

Signed,

Confused in California

Read more Dr. Sherry’s response at Essence.com 

No Bachelor’s Degree? No Prob! Jobs That Don’t Require A 4-Year Diploma

December 20th, 2013 - By Tanvier Peart
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Time and time again, we hear about the importance of attending college in order to land a nice-paying job in hopes of living the good life. While it’s true that having a degree (especially an advanced one) can and will open many doors of opportunities, we also have to consider those who make the choice not to attend a college or university.

Maybe finances are too tight to pay out of pocket for higher education? Or maybe the college thing just isn’t for you? There are still many options a person can take who does not graduate with a college degree. We have already heard about jobs that pay a nice salary to those with a two-year degree. Now it’s time to look at some that don’t require a bachelor’s degree.