Posts published in February, 2012

Student Reason For College Shifts To Jobs Rather Than Academic Interest

  • In a trend largely motivated by the Great Recession, most incoming college freshmen now say their primary reason for going to college is to be able to get a better job, according to a survey by higher education researchers at UCLA. The trend represents a radical departure from pre-recession years, when most incoming freshmen indicated that their primary reason for going to college was to learn more about things of interest. Specifically, in 2006, before the current recession, the report states, 76.8 percent of incoming freshmen indicated that learning about things that interested them was “a very important” reason to go to college, whereas only 70.4 percent indicated the same for getting a better job. Now, 85.9 percent say getting a job is very important, whereas 82.9 percent said learning more about things of interest was very important. The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2011 was prepared by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program, or (CIRP), at the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA.

Students Talk About Why They Chose Online To Finish Degrees

Students choose online education for its flexibilty, finish degrees that would othewise be impossible for them to attain
In a new series from U.S. News and World Reports, adult students share personal annecdotes about why they chose to pursue their degrees online.  While online programs can require additional commitment, many of the featured students state that this format allows them to juggle academics with work and family commitments. This flexibility often allows them to complete degrees that they had unsuccessfully pursued for years.

Income Gap Trumps Race/ Ethnicity In Achievement Gap For College Prep

Study finds widening gap between rich, poor students

According to research by Sean Reardon, associate professor of education, the gap in test scores between rich and poor students has grown steadily since the 1960s and is now nearly twice as large as the black-white achievement gap.

Colleges Should Help Students Produce not Consume Knowledge

the Future of Higher Education

by Peshe C. Kuriloff  For Teachers College Record

The accomplishments of Steve Jobs, a
college drop-out, raise provocative questions about what students learn in
college and what they might benefit from learning in the future. This article
argues that the goal of higher education going forward should be to produce
knowledge rather than consume it. Knowledge-making will require some
significant adjustment in how we teach our students.

Can We Trust The Market To Improve Colleges?

By Watson Scott Swail, President & CEO, Educational Policy Institute/EPI International

Last week, I discussed the President’s proposal for cost cutting and keeping colleges on task and on budget. Yesterday, the Senate held a hearing on college affordability that basically showed how the government is handcuffed from finding a way to get colleges in line, fiscally or otherwise.

Senate Democrats and Republicans lined up and basically sound-bited (now a verb in a dictionary near you!) what we expect. Democrats said the government should do whatever they can to make college more affordable (according to Barbara Mikulski, D-MD). Republicans said they should let free markets take care of this (it wouldn’t be so funny if we didn’t know that the Republicans took the Democrats position back in 1998. Now it’s hilarious).

But I was taken by what North Carolina Republican Richard Burr said:

“Higher education is a great example of how the market place works. When tuition gets too expensive, he said, “people choose to go somewhere else.” (

I apologize, but this comment shows either naiveté or gross ignorance. I’m betting both.


Specific Practices That Work For Community College Success

Center for Community College Student Engagement has released A Matter of Degrees: Promising Practices for
Community College Student Success
, a first in a series of national reports
focused on potential high-impact educational practices. A Matter of Degrees presents key findings from a
multi-year Center initiative, Identifying and Promoting High-Impact Educational
Practices in Community Colleges, and brings together survey responses from
entering students, experienced students, faculty, and institutions. Data
sources include results from recent Survey of Entering Student Engagement (SENSE) and Community
College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE)
administrations, the SENSE
and CCSSE 2011
special-focus items on promising practices, and the Community College Faculty
Survey of Student Engagement (CCFSSE)
three-year cohort, plus preliminary findings from the newly launched Community
College Institutional Survey (CCIS).


the report:


the news release:

Black Male Success In College: New University of Pennsylvania Study

Download the report at:
Black men’s dismal college enrollments, disengagement and underachievement, and low rates of baccalaureate degree completion are among the most complex issues in U.S. higher education. The Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education at the University of Pennsylvania releases a report from the National Black Male College Achievement Study, the largest-ever research project on Black undergraduate men. Offered in the report are key insights on success from achievers at 42 colleges and universities in 20 states across the nation. Also included are details about the research design and methods; information on the full sample and participating institutions; profiles of a few study participants; a summary of key findings from the study; and implications for educators, administrators, families, and policymakers. Lumina Foundation for Education funded this report, the Center’s inaugural publication

Another Critique Of Obama Higher Education Proposals

By Matt Miller, Wednesday, February 1

The Washington Post


You probably don’t think President Obama’s new college affordability initiative will leave students with more debt than they incur today. But you’d be wrong.


The president deserves credit for calling out soaring tuition and unsustainable student debt as huge barriers to upward mobility and a strong middle class. But unfortunately, the remedies he sketched in his State of the Union address and in a speech at the University of Michigan last week are textbook examples of proposals meant to signal the president’s “values” (and win votes) while doing little to address the problem.


Read the full column

An Analysis Of Obama Higher Education Plan

Aiming High: The Keeping College Affordable

Watson Scott Swail,
President & CEO, Educational Policy Institute/EPI International

This morning, President Obama used the setting of staff and
students at the University of Michigan to unveil his Keeping College Affordable initiative. Based on his State
of the Union speech a few nights ago, we knew this was coming and we knew
mostly what it was about, and as Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said
earlier this morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, the initiative would involve both carrots and

There are several components of the initiative, but the most
salient feature is a $1 billion incentive* fund to entice institutions to keep
costs down (the carrot). This program is patterned after the K-12 Race to the
Top program, which has provided incentive funding to states. The “stick” is the
President’s warning to institutions that if they don’t bring tuition fees
within reason, Congress will act. “You can’t assume that you’ll just jack up
tuition every single year. If you can’t stop tuition from going up, then the
funding you get from taxpayers each year will go down.”

It is easy to be cynical about these changes. Because the US
higher education system is so large and complex, attempting to make a real and
positive change in this system is inordinately difficult; perhaps impossible.
Understand that this “system” has over 2,000 public institutions alone, another
2,000 private, non-profits, and thousands of other proprietary institutions.
The public institutions run under the auspices of 50 state governments who have
the final say on what happens. But the federal government has some leverage
through Title IV (student aid) and research funds. Already, Title IV aid is
used as a lever to get institutions to complete IPEDs surveys each year (if
institutions don’t complete, they don’t get federal student aid funds,
including Pell, Direct Loans, and Work Study).


More On Free And Accountable Higher Education Courses

Op-ed: Can companies make higher ed free, more accountable?
A number of non-profit, as well as for-profit, web-based companies are starting to offer college-level courses for free, or close to free, to the public. For-profit StraighterLine will soon start offering the Collegiate Learning Assessment, a test that measures critical-thinking skills, to students. According to Washington Post pundit Jon Marcus, “Many traditional universities are afraid to administer it, so the fact that [StraighterLine founder Burke] Smith is embracing the test indicates that his company is comfortable in the glare of accountability.”