By Brett Nachman and Michelle Holowach
How to take the pulse of higher education? If professors, administrators and staff, plus boards, committees, alumni, donors and boosters, provide the heartbeat of the academy, students upply the lifeblood. Last spring, Phi Kappa Phi Forum conducted Q&As with the last constituency at virtually every level: freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, master’s, and doctoral. Profiles
span public and private schools, and big and small campuses, throughout the country. Interviewees,
some Society members and others not, range across demographics and majors.
The representatives wind up distinct. They vary in interests, backgrounds, and personalities. Pupils also differ in extracurriculars, volunteerism, residence (on-campus or off-), and whether or not
they have a job beyond what being in academia entails.
Yet several unifying themes emerge. The learners are ambitious, hardworking, and thoughtful.
And they relish interaction with instructors. Financial costs prove their main concern. Another
issue: time management.
Q&As occurred by email and phone. Edited excerpts follow.
— Editor Peter Szatmary
University of Kansas
SPORTS: Discus and shot put
Kenny Boyer’s commitment to
balancing education and sports
keeps him on track, literally
Q: What’s the No. 1 issue for college students?
A: The expense, he said. Boyer’s parents and
scholarships underwrite his education. Many of
Boyer’s high school friends “went to community
college just because of the burden of the cost.”
Q: Why did you choose KU?
A: It has “the best track-and-field coach, so it
was kind of a no-brainer,” he said. And the campus boasts “the prettiest views you will ever see.”
Q: What sparked your interest in track and field?
A: “I started it (at age five) and I stuck with it,”
he said. Boyer initially was a sprinter because he
was small and ran for seven years; when he
physically developed, Boyer, now standing 6 feet
2 inches, shifted to throwing.
Q: What do you enjoy most about college sports?
A: The competition, he said. “Everyone’s good.
It makes it a lot more fun when you are not
beating everyone almost every time” as in high
school. “I felt like in high school I was stalling
out, just because sometimes I would compete
against myself. But now I want to throw farther
and farther, because other people have thrown
farther than me.”
Q: What’s your biggest college challenge?
A: “You have to manage your athletics at the
same time while managing your academics, and
sometimes that’s really overwhelming,” he said.
Boyer takes 15 class hours per semester (all in
person), spends about 20 hours per week training, and lives in a campus apartment like most
student-athletes. He competes most weeks in the
spring, meaning studying on the road. “I just
have to hold my academics at the same level that
I hold my athletics.”
Q: How has college matured you?
A: “I have learned to manage my time a lot better,” he said. “In high school, I was all over the
place. In college, you cannot float by.” KU requires traveling athletes to participate in study
hall, and Boyer makes the most of it, he said.
“Staying focused in college is probably going to
be any kid’s biggest success, because there are so
many distractions and there are so many ways
you can go wrong.”
Q: Favorite college experience?
A: The “awesome” high-tech athletic facilities,
he said. “You honestly feel like a pro when you
Q: Most valuable college experience?
A: “My classes. Because that’s what I’m going to
take with me for the rest of my life.”
Q: What do you hope to get from KU ultimately?
A: “A degree,” he said. “That’s the most you can
really wish for.” Boyer also wants college to
“teach me what life is going to be like.”
University Fort Wayne
Emma Petersen values straight
talk in any number of ways.
Q: How did you pick your school?
A: “It really came down to cost,” she said. “
Because my mom works at IPFW [as psychology
department secretary], I had a guaranteed discount.” And the sophomore lives at home (with
her mother; father, a Missouri-Synod Lutheran
pastor; and younger brother, a high school senior) — so no room and board. “I’ve been really
happy here, actually,” added Petersen, who
works as a barista at a local Starbucks and has a
Q: What’s the No. 1 issue students face in higher
about higher education
see page 36.