If Paying the Price has inspired you to make college more affordable, here are some ways to help:


Donate. Everyone needs a helping hand sometimes, but the financial aid system moves slowly. I created the FAST (Faculty and Students Together) Fund so that when teachers see a student in distress, they can immediately help.  


Advocate. Let’s push policymakers to take the high price of college seriously. Read my range of policy proposals you can write your local congressperson about.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Policy Development Research, my team at the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, and I have co-authored this guidebook to assist institutions of higher education as they consider, evaluate, implement, and scale up programs and policies to support students' learning, persistence, and completion. 

Lastly, my team at the Wisconsin HOPE Lab and I convene #RealCollege, the only national meeting to learn how to effectively address undergraduate food and housing insecurity and increase college completion for low-income students. This website describes the conversation and resulting resources from both year 1 in Milwaukee and year 2 in Philadelphia.


Educate. Too many people are in the dark, paying the price of college, but struggling quietly. Talk to your neighbors, family, and friends about the issues in this book, and share with them stories of real students facing real troubles. Use social media to reach even more people. Follow my public Facebook page and Twitter feed for daily updates.




Access and Equity in Higher Education

This course is designed to offer strategies to help professionals better prepare students underrepresented in higher education for what it takes both academically and personally to enroll in and transition through college and onto careers. 

Course Syllabus

Seminar on Scholarly Activism

In this graduate seminar we will examine the phenomenon of “scholar activism,” also referred to as scholar advocacy and in some cases public scholarship. What does it mean to be a scholar activist in the academy(ies) today? What types of scholar activism do faculty engage in, how, and to what end? In order to closely interrogate these topics, we will explore the biographies and narratives of a diverse array of scholar activists, examine the sociopolitical and economic forces shaping their work, and consider what they have achieved and why.

Course Syllabus

Mixed Methods Research for Social Scientists

Social scientists are increasingly concerned with both identifying and explaining phenomena of interest, including the impacts of policies and practices. Many agree that given the limitations of any specific methodological tool, endeavors to understand the “hows” and “whys” of observed relationships are best informed by mixed methods research. But what is mixed methods research and how is it best conducted? This course covers the theory and practice of mixed methods research in the social sciences with an emphasis on the pragmatic considerations that contribute to the success or failure of such projects. We discuss the development and execution of mixed method studies, the analyses of data obtained from multiple methodological approaches, and the practical tools required to do the work. Throughout the course, we examine specific applications of mixed methods research and learn from researchers who have thought through the art and the science required to utilize this approach.

Course syllabus

Introduction to Debates in Higher Education Policy

In this course I hope that you will learn to think critically about several debates in contemporary higher education policy. Class discussions will explore the tensions between key policy goals such as quality, equity, and efficiency, and the results (including unintended consequences) of those tensions. We will also examine the theory and research brought to bear on policy debates, and how it is used—or not used—to shape policy agendas. By the end of this class, you should be able to read and think critically about an array of higher education policies, communicate effectively regarding your thinking on higher education policy issues with others, carefully analyze higher education policies, and clearly and succinctly convey your thinking in writing.

Course syllabus

For Scholar-Activists

Sara on Scholar-Activism

Sara meeting with Congressman Danny K. Davis on Capital Hill.


Read Sara's piece On Scholarly Activism at contexts.org.

Listen to Sara's Wisconsin Public Radio talk on Life As A Scholar-Activist. 

AERA 2012: Blogging Pre- and Post-Tenure

Part 1:                                              Part 2:

AERA 2012: Blogging pre- and post-tenure (Part 1)  AERA 2012: Blogging pre- and post-tenure (Part 2)

AERA 2016: Career Threats and Opportunities: What Is the Role of Social Media in Public Scholarship?

Career Threats and Opportunities: What Is the Role of Social Media in Public Scholarship?




The EduOptimists

The EduOptimists LLC was created in 2013 in an effort to centralize my investments in my community, providing consultative services to people seeking advice and fresh thinking on topics in a range of areas related to college access and success.


HEART logoHunger/Homelessness Eradication Applied Research Tools (HEART)

In the effort to help researchers across the country and world study food and housing insecurity issues in higher education, the EduOptimists has created Hunger/Homelessness Eradication Applied Research Tools (HEART). HEART assists researchers by: 1) providing survey instruments & coding instructions, 2) offering technical assistance in fielding surveys and getting high response rates, 3) analyzing and conducting statistical analyses on de-identified data, 4) making data comparisons, and 5) disseminating reports and sharing findings. 


Interviews and Podcasts