Susan Smith is a modal student. Maybe she's a model student too. But for our purposes, she's a modal student, a statistical construction based on the most common patterns in American higher education. I met her while I was trying to figure out what was really happening in the immense, varied, sprawling world of higher education in this country.
Some statisticians told me that there is no Susan--no modal student--in a system as complex as American higher education. They are right about the complexity; Susan, I expect, finds it baffling too. But I believe that if we don't look for the typical, we might be in danger of overlooking the reality that surrounds many of today's college students.
So here is Susan's story, chapter by chapter.
Bob Connor March 2010
Chapter 1: Meeting Susan In which I meet eighteen-year old college student Susan Smith for the first time and discover that she's from the population center of the country.