Popular Interviews
All Interviews

Archive for the ‘college’ Category

Education by the Numbers

Guest Blog by Melissa McCreery

Working in the higher education arena, I come across a lot of shocking statistical information—I mean truly shocking. For example, did you know student loan debt is currently hovering near the one trillion dollar mark? One trillion dollars. For the record, that’s a 1 followed by twelve zeros. That’s not only a shocking number, but a number that says something significant about higher education in our country.

Numbers and statistics are important to understanding the conversation on educationtoday. They can often tell a story – through their matter-of-factness – that words cannot adequately express. When we look at numbers as they relate to higher education, there is much we can learn.

  • Currently, twenty percent of all first- time undergrads take at least one remedial class.
  • Most college students (58.2%) under 30 attend school on a part time basis
  • In the United States today, only 11% of students from the bottom income quartile hold a college degree; compared with 79% of students from the upper income quartile who hold a college degree
  • In Oregon, for every 100 students that enter public 2- and 4-year colleges, only 38 graduate within an 8-year timeframe.
  • In Oregon, 28% of residents hold a 4-year college degree, compared with 38% nationally.
  • On a global scale, only 6.7% of the world’s population holds a 4-year college degree
  • In most states – and countries – the younger generation of adults is more educated than their elders. In Oregon, adults aged 25–34 are less educated than their parents’ generation, with fewer earning certificates or degrees beyond high school.

* Sources: USA Today (2012), NBC News Education Report, Complete College America, Chronicle of Higher Education Almanac (2012), Oregon Blue Book



Top 10 Reasons I’m Counting Down to The 2013 Justice Conference

Guest Blog by Melissa McCreery

Since being hired at Kilns College, I’ve had the awesome opportunity—blessing, really—to be a small part of The Justice Conference. It’s truly amazing to see the conference staff, Kilns students, and countless (seriously, countless) volunteers come together to pull off this awesome event.  I’ve honestly found it difficult to sleep all week because The Justice Conference is in Philadelphia this weekend. Here are my top 10 reason why I’ve been looking forward to this event all year!

1.     It’s the single event where thousands of people who care about justice gather together. That’s a lot of awesome people in one place!

2.     Kilns College co-sponsors the event with World Relief so I get to spend 48 hours meeting people and talking about Kilns College and why it’s a place that’s revolutionizing higher education. If you’re coming to the conference come check out the Kilns table and say hi!

3.     Micah Bournes will be performing. This guy is seriously talented!

4.     You get the opportunity to meet representatives from hundreds of nonprofit organizations

5.     I was honored to ask to speak during a pre-conference session. If you’ll be at the pre-conference check out my session on education! While you’re at it, check out all the pre-conference sessions on The Justice Conference website

6.     My dear friend Erin Lytle is Director for this conference and works tirelessly 365 days a year to make it an awesome experience for all the attendees, exhibitors and speakers.

7.     This year’s conference is in Philly! After living for a few years in New England, I’m excited to be back on the East Coast, even if just for a few days.

8.     It’s a great networking event!

9.     Kilns College President Ken Wytsma’s new book Pursuing Justice will be available at the conference bookstore

10.  This year, Kilns College has a HUGE announcement to make at the conference… can’t wait to share it with everyone!



Guest Post :: What Would Lincoln Say?

Guest Bloggers: Melissa McCreery, VP of Development at Kilns College


My husband and I—along with a multitude of other people across the country—went to see Lincoln on it’s opening weekend. The movie brought in $21 million that weekend—quite a sizable income considering it was up against Twilight’s Breaking Dawn and Skyfall, the latest James Bond film.

I don’t know if viewers were drawn to the historic figure, portrayed by actor Daniel Day-Lewis, because the country is coming off a messy presidential election, because Abraham Lincoln has always been something of an American icon, or simply because the winter weather is beginning to settle in and people are flocking to the theaters.

If I asked the one thing Abraham Lincoln is best known for, I’d probably receive a range of responses. The Gettysburg address, the 13th amendment, the leader who held the union together at all costs, a strategic politician. Whether you think he was the greatest leader this country has ever seen, or simply another politician, it’s hard to argue against the fact that he possessed tremendous character and resolve when the country needed it most.

I wonder if he were alive today, what Abraham Lincoln would say about the overall lack of honesty and integrity that seems to be plaguing an increasingly large numbers of high school and college students.

One of our students at Kilns College recently sent me an article from the Wall Street Journal— “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?” by HollyFinn, which addresses the rise in cheating among students today. The 5-second summary goes something like this: 125 Harvard students cheat on an exam and plead it as necessary for their academic success.

To be clear, this isn’t just an epidemic at Harvard, nor specific to the United States. No, I’m sad to say if you open almost any college newspaper today you’re bound to see an article about some cheating scandal or other. Additionally, according to Finn’s article, a 2010 study found a high rate of cheating on college admission applications in China and the UK.

Have the schools failed us? The churches? Have parents neglected their duty to raise morally responsible children? Has society failed to produce a present-day role model who lives with integrity? In all honesty, we probably have all played a role in our moral decline, which means we all have a responsibility to help restore integrity into the world.

One of Lincoln’s less well-known speeches, given during a law lecture states,

“Let no young man choosing the law for a calling, for a moment yield to the popular belief — resolve to be honest at all events; and if in your own judgment you cannot be an honest lawyer, resolve to be honest without being a lawyer.”

Don’t put your career aspirations before your commitment to live an honest life. Live with integrity and the rest will fall into place.

Don’t aspire to succeed academically at all cost—as the Harvard students did. Aspire to succeed to become a better person in the process. Aspire to find success in helping the less fortunate. In using your career to bring about positive change.

I like to think people were drawn to Lincoln (the movie and the man) because of the leader he was and what he represents in American history.  Maybe today,we’re all just grasping for a role model to inspire us.

Melissa’s Bio: Melissa grew up in Southern California and attended the University of Southern California where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism and Political Science. After working as a First Year Advisor at USC, Melissa moved to Boston to pursue graduate studies. She earned her Ed.M in Higher Education from Harvard University and moved to Bend, Oregon following graduation. Prior to working at Kilns College, Melissa worked at several college and higher education organizations such as USC, the New England Board of Higher Education, Emerson College, and Central Oregon Community College.



Future Generations Burdened by Excessive Student Debt

Editor’s Note: Melissa is the Vice President of Development at Kilns College.

By Guest Blogger: Melissa McCreery

I came across this video while researching an entirely different topic for a different assignment. The New York Times video—coupled with an email I received from a prominent higher education journal inviting me to attend a seminar on Student Loan Default Aversion: Forum on Research and Best Practices—caused be to stop and think about how the high cost of earning a college degree may cause financial hardship rather than socioeconomic advantages for future generations.  According to the department of education, in the U.S. today there is more than $1 trillion in outstanding student loan debt.

Click here to view the NY Times video and article: College Costs Weighing Down a Generation with Student Debt. 

The video also addresses the larger question of why we attend college. Is it to land a job with a big paycheck and signing bonus? Or, to further our knowledge and learn for the pure joy of learning? If you fall into the former category, I highly recommend you watch this video.

To be clear, my intent in posting this is not to condemn colleges that charge high tuition rates. Many institutions increase tuition as a last resort, when faced with decreased state and federal funding and dried up donor pools. No, at the end of the day it’s not entirely the school’s fault.

My purpose in addressing this issue is merely to begin a dialogue about it. Since my own graduation (in practicing full disclosure, I myself attended a school which would fall into the “high tuition” category), I’ve wondered what exactly my tuition paid for, and would I have been able to receive the same education elsewhere? My Alma Mater would argue I paid for my education and my collegiate experience (football games, world renowned guest lecturers, state-of-the-art technology, etc).

Would I have received the same experience and quality education at another, more affordable school? I honestly don’t know. What I do know is it’s a question incoming college students and their families should at least be asking.


Melissa grew up in Southern California and attended the University of Southern California where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism and Political Science. After working as a First Year Advisor at USC, Melissa moved to Boston to pursue graduate studies. She earned her Ed.M in Higher Education from Harvard University and moved to Bend, Oregon following graduation. Prior to working at Kilns College, Melissa worked at several college and higher education organizations such as USC, the New England Board of Higher Education, Emerson College, and Central Oregon Community College


Higher Education: A Victim or Catalyst of Consumer Culture?

Editor’s Note: Melissa is the Vice President of Development at Kilns College.

By Guest Blogger: Melissa McCreery

“How can a writing class possibly help me land a job as a aerospace engineer?”

“Which class looks better on my resume—Biochemistry or Spanish?”

“Do employers look favorably on applicants who study abroad?”

Over the course of my career in higher education— particularly in my role as an academic advisor in the engineering department at a prominent California university —I’ve been asked these questions more times than I care to count. After just a few months as an advisor, my answers came automatically.

“Engineering firms are looking for employees with strong communication skills, and a college level writing course will give you those skills.”

“In an ever-shrinking world, employers like to hire bilingual students so I’d recommend adding a minor in Spanish.”

“Studying abroad shows potential employers that you’re a ‘go-getter’ and not afraid of taking on a challenge or new experience.”

While these answers rolled off my tongue without pause, they weren’t without thought. I cared deeply for my advisees and for their post-college success. Success —in my mind and theirs (and their tuition-paying parents)—defined by their employment status upon graduation. Were they at a reputable firm? Was their paycheck significant? Did they receive a signing bonus?

These were my goals. If I could help Johnny excel in his academics and complete his degree program, which in turn landed him a reputable job, then I successfully served Johnny, his parents and the university.

In my eyes—albeit heavily guarded by a pair of impenetrable (and highly fashionable) rose-colored glasses—a more altruistic industry could not be found.

Then, one day as I was settling into a new job, at a new college, serving a new population of students, I found myself answering the same familiar questions. Was it just me or did students fail to see the big picture about their education? Their questions revolved increasingly around job security and had very little to do with true learning. (I actually met with one prospective student who wanted to enroll in a degree program, but – on this point he was explicitly clear—he did not want to learn anything). That’s when the rose-colored glasses fell off.

Students never asked which classes would aid in shaping them into better human beings; or, how their study abroad opportunity would expose them to injustices taking place around the world. It seems if there was no practical purpose for their education, it was deemed invaluable. Had it always been this way? Had I really just been blind to this?

In that moment, I saw the higher education system for what it truly was. Noble? Yes. Well-intentioned? Yes. Imperfect? Most definitely.

Somewhere in its pursuit to save the world, higher education had become misguided. Colleges and universities across the country lost sight of their mission, which has never been to help students land big paychecks or large corner offices, but to graduate students with integrity and a broad worldview—who will positively impact the planet and contribute to society. (You can google almost any U.S. college or university to read their mission statement).

Had higher education fallen victim to today’s consumer culture? Or had it played a crucial role in creating it?

After researching numerous college websites and marketing materials, and speaking with administrators around the country, I discovered that a scant few colleges herald their graduates’ character development and worldview upon completion of their college experience.

Instead colleges’ praise students for their employment status—often based on inflated data—upon graduation. If it’s what colleges emphasize as important, their students will follow suit. And don’t be fooled, it is exactly what colleges are valuing. A recent Chronicle of Higher Education article outlines how, in recent years, institutions of higher education have, with alarming frequency, inflated the employment rates for their graduates. Schools advertise high job placement rates—some as high as 98-percent – based largely on bogus numbers.

How much pressure must theses institutions feel, if they have lowered themselves to inflating graduation rates? One thing is for sure, pressure that intense it palpable and students easily pick up on this.

The mission of higher education – in theory if not on paper—has shifted from truly educating its students to ensuring their employment. Parents, students, college admission counselors, academic advisors, and high school counselors have placed growing emphasis on education as a means to employment and financial security.

A quick perusal of any bookstore will reveal an absurdly high quantity of books devoted to the topic.

Yes, providing employment and financial stability is part of a college’s purpose, but just a part (and a rather small part at that).

Higher education provides a number of benefits; most notably to the nation’s economic stability and job creation, civic engagement, and pulling students from low socioeconomic situations and landing them securely in middle class America. These are all pieces that make up the whole higher education pie, which, in the end, should speak to students’ education as a whole individual—mind and soul.

Today, when students ask what classes look better on their resume my response doesn’t come quite as quickly. Instead, I challenge each student I advise to look at the ‘big picture’ of his/her education. Why are you pursuing a college degree? How does God use each class to show you how to live a life of purpose and compassion? How are your relationships—with friends, classmates, professors and mentors – developing and shaping you into a person of character?

In the wave of clarity that came with the removal of my tightly fitted rose-colored glasses, my passion for higher education seems only to have intensified. In fact, it’s possible I am even more passionate today about the importance of higher education than I was under the guise of oblivion. I still believe higher education serves an irreplaceable role in society, and that—deep down—its intentions are noble. It merely needs to be guided back to its original mission.

Melissa grew up in Southern California and attended the University of Southern California where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism and Political Science. After working as a First Year Advisor at USC, Melissa moved to Boston to pursue graduate studies. She earned her Ed.M in Higher Education from Harvard University and moved to Bend, Oregon following graduation. Prior to working at Kilns College, Melissa worked at several college and higher education organizations such as USC, the New England Board of Higher Education, Emerson College, and Central Oregon Community College



Matt Smith has been doing an amazing job with the college & career group at Antioch since taking it over earlier this summer.

He has been repositioning it around identity (defined by purpose) vs. demographic (defined by age group).  In conjunction with this focus, the group has recently been renamed “PARADOX.”

Below is Matt’s little blurb on the name and the new logo designed by Tony Querio (notice the upside down crown in the background).

You have to give to receive
You have to follow to lead
You have to listen to speak
You have to die to live
To find your innermost self you have to look outside yourself
This is an upside down kingdom
Nothing is as it seems
His ways are not our ways
Sometimes truth is a Paradox – beyond belief, outside opinion, resting in reality



Old Mill Marketplace Space!!!

The college that was given to Antioch (High Desert Christian College) just signed on this amazing space in the Old Mill Marketplace yesterday.

It’s absolutely HUGE inside and will look amazing when it is painted, remodeled and has the espresso machine installed.

The main uses will be a bookstore for the college, the college, community education opportunities, a missions office, desserts and art sales / art shows to start with.

E-mail me at if you would like to help with the construction side of the remodel or would like to help furnish the facility!!


Posted in: Antioch, college

       Website design by Nate Salciccioli. Website development by GelFuzion, Inc.