Three things to read this weekend

If you’re anything like me, you have a lot of tabs open on your Internet browser so you don’t lose track of the things you want to read … but don’t have time to get to right this second. With that in mind, we’ve decided to start a new weekly feature on the Mass Insight blog: Three things to read this weekend (when you actually might have the time!). Check in every Friday to see what caught our eye over the course of the week.

Without further ado, here are three things I found particularly compelling this week:

College Freshmen Seek Financial Security Amid Emotional Insecurity (The Chronicle of Higher Education): Dan Barrett and Eric Hoover parse the annual Freshman Survey from the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (part of the Higher Education Research Institutes at UCLA) to identify some key insights into what’s going on in the minds of college freshman. One staggering statistic from the survey: 82 percent of college freshmen think it’s very important or essential to be financially well-off – up from 44 percent in 1974.

The Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Improving U.S. Educational Outcomes (Washington Center for Equitable Growth): This study supports the argument that investing in and creating a strong educational system is essentially an economic development play by showing that raising educational achievement and closing achievement gaps would result in significant economic growth. Or, from the flip side, we should be willing to make significant investments in education because those investments will results in dramatically increased GDP and government revenue. For example, if we were able to increase U.S. math and science to the OECD average, the U.S. would experience $72 billion in GDP growth per year (!) for the next 35 years.

The Talking Cure (The New Yorker): An exploration of the Providence Talks program in Providence, R.I., which is an effort to get low-income parents to spend more time talking with their children in the hopes that will pay off with improvements in educational outcomes. The program is based on research that showed a connection between the amount of time parents spent talking with their children and the size of the children’s vocabularies and the children’s performance on IQ tests. This is a topic that’s fascinated me since I first heard about it on a radio show a year or two back, and this article raises some really interesting questions about the intervention.