Paying the Price: How the High Cost of College Impacts Students and Families

Here’s an episode from the “No Jargon” podcast that discusses the difficulty many students are having paying for their college education and how this impacts them and their families.  It also grapples with the prospects of realizing the American Dream when the surest path to upward mobility is prohibitively expensive. The guest on this episode […]

The Secret to Happiness…and Good Grades

  Awhile back I was listening to the Ted Radio Hour.  The guest was a Harvard psychologist, Dan Gilbert, an expert on happiness.  He wrote a widely-read book, Stumbling On Happiness, and was describing a common experience he has after people find out about his research.  They want him to tell them the secret to […]

What is the Purpose of a College Education?

Here is a statement lifted from the Harvard University website which beautifully captures the larger goal of a college education — and not just for those lucky enough to go to Harvard. It has since been removed from the site but it remains a forceful and articulate defense of the liberal arts and a vision […]

Why Poor Students Struggle in College

Here is an article from the New York Times that discusses some of the cultural challenges students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds confront when they go to college…

This is How Power Works: A Primer and Illustration

To my students who are inspiring me, Summarizing power in 1000 words is nearly impossible; to apply this analysis in the same 1000 words is a fantasy. But, my students are engaged in social change and don’t have time for long-winded academic treatments; they need understanding that will be helpful to them right now.   Thus, […]

The half-million dollar question

Here is a link to a guest column I wrote for our campus newspaper.  It deals with, among other things, the way that powerful actors are able to insulate themselves from accountability.  In this case the Illinois State University Board of Trustees paid a half-million dollars to its 18th president following his resignation after only […]

About The Main Drift

I started this blog because I believe the world needs more sociology. In a time when we are bombarded by an overwhelming stream of information,…

Ten Things You Should Know About College

I’m currently writing a book that examines the disconnect between popular beliefs about what a four-year college education is all about and what it actually means.  My goal is to help close this “college knowledge gap” so that students can get the most from their education.