Posts published in May, 2012

How Colleges Can Increase Student Retention

Research conducted by the College Board (.pdf/1.41MB) in partnership with the Project on Academic Success at Indiana University and the Center for Enrollment Research and Practice at the University of Southern California found that institutions are making organizational and programmatic efforts to improve student retention. These actions include the following:

  • Regularly analyzing retention rates
  • Charging an administrator with retention coordination
  • Appointing a retention committee
  • Implementing early warning systems
  • Requiring first-year students to meet with advisers at least once

The study also raises questions around the efficacy of these efforts and whether institutions are devoting enough resources to meeting the complex challenge of improving student persistence and graduation rates. In particular, the study found that on average only a little over one-third full-time equivalent (FTE) was formally allocated to the retention coordinator role, and these administrators usually had little authority and few resources to implement new program initiatives.

College Rankings Student Selectivity Inflation: Is It Real?


Frederick M. Hess and Taryn Hochleitner, American Enterprise Institute


Key Points

More and more schools are entering the top tiers of competitiveness rankings in the respected Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges, largely because of increased application volume and grade inflation, not improved academic quality.
The number of schools in the most competitive Barron’s category doubled between 1991 and 2011, while the share of schools in the bottom categories declined 13 percent. There are now more very competitive schools than less competitive ones.
Applicants and their families should take these rankings in perspective; interactive college guides that let students search according to lifestyle and learning preferences may better indicate where a student will find the best fit.

  Read this publication online.
  View a printable copy.

How To Get The Most Out Of Going To College: A Useful Guide

Your time as an undergrad has the potential to be incredibly fun, rewarding, and life changing in ways you may not yet even imagine–that is, if you play your cards right and take full advantage of what your university has to offer. Sadly, very few students ever learn the secret handshake of how to make the most of their college years.

For undergrads (and parents) hoping their tuition will pay off, GETTING THE BEST OUT OF COLLEGE is very helpful.  Distilling more than fifty years of experience from some of the leading minds at top tier institutions, GETTING THE BEST OUT OF COLLEGE reveals insider advice : how to impress professors, live with a roommate, pick the best courses (and do well in them), design a meaningful transcript, earn remarkable internships, prepare for a successful career after graduation, and much more.

This new edition also includes feedback from students who put GETTING THE BEST OUT OF COLLEGE to the test, as well as new chapters on what to do when college “just isn’t working” and unique opportunities with international students and study abroad.


US Ed Report Suggests Better College Prep And Progress

The Condition of Education 2012

Today, Commissioner Jack Buckley, National Center for Education Statistics, released The Condition of Education 2012 The 49 indicators presented in The Condition of Education 2012 provide a progress report on education in America and include findings on the demographics of American schools, U.S. resources for schooling, and outcomes associated with education.

Report findings include:

• In 2008-09, about three-quarters of the 2004-05 freshman class graduated with a regular diploma from public high schools.

• From 2000 to 2010, undergraduate enrollment in postsecondary institutions increased from 13 million students to 18 million. During this period, undergraduate enrollment in private for-profit institutions quadrupled – from 0.4 million students in 2000 to 1.7 million in 2010.

• Between 1980 and 2011, the percentages of White, Black and Hispanic 25- to 29-year-olds who had a bachelor’s degree increased. Yet, during this period, the gap in bachelor’s degree attainment between Blacks and Whites increased from 13 to 19 percentage points, and the gap between Whites and Hispanics increased from 17 to 26 percentage points.

To view the full report please visit

New Report Says Online Courses Are Cost Effective

Students learn just as much in a course that’s taught partly online as they would in a traditional classroom, but such courses won’t reach their potential until they are both easier for faculty members to customize and more fun for students, according to a new report.  One of the authors is a former Princeton President and head of the Mellon Foundation.

More Data Needed To Measure College Quality

The National Research Council released a report that indicates just how hard it is to measure institutional quality. The panel’s recommendations start with the notion that the productivity of higher education should be regarded as ratio of outputs to inputs, but their imprecision is a sign that colleges compile insufficient measures of the quantity and quality of their work. Source:ECS

Colleges Need To Bear Risk For Student Loan Defaults

Review Summary

Pitched unsteadily if shrewdly between honest self-reflection and squirmy narcissistic indulgence, the low-budget indie “Tiny Furniture” is one of the bigger itsy-bitsy movies to hit this year. It was written and directed by the newcomer Lena Dunham, who also plays the leading role of Aura, a recent college graduate who returns to her family’s TriBeCa loft and promptly tries to crawl back in the womb. What makes this womb without apparent view especially notable is that Ms. Dunham’s own mother, the artist Laurie Simmons, plays Aura’s mother, while her real sister, Grace, plays Aura’s on-screen sibling. The story unfolds leisurely, almost listlessly. Aura, carrying a pet white hamster that registers as a token of her vulnerability, slips into her postgraduate routine. She reunites with a childhood friend, Charlotte (Jemima Kirke, funny and appalling), goes to a party, gets a job as a restaurant hostess and flirts with two men, Jed (Alex Karpovsky) and Keith (David Call), whose indifference to her she stubbornly and excruciatingly refuses to acknowledge. She wanders about the loft, padding around in her pajamas like a toddler and standing (in awe or confusion) before the gleaming white cabinets and wall of books that look like the monument to success they are. Nothing happens, and then something does. As you watch Aura meander, you might start wondering when the “real” story will kick in. You’ll have to keep waiting. Part performance piece, part thought experiment, “Tiny Furniture” only looks like a straightforward coming-of-age narrative. — Manohla Dargis

College Reports Worth Reading

  • Beyond Need and Merit: Strengthening State Grant Programs (Brookings Institution)
  • The Credential Differential: The Public Return to Increasing Postsecondary Credential Attainment (CLASP)
  • Reclaiming the American Dream: A Report from the 21st-Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges (AACC)
  • Replenishing Opportunity In America: The 2012 Midterm Report of Public Higher Education Systems in the Access to Success Initiative (Education Trust)

Source : ECS

Colleges Need New Strategy To De-Emphasize Rankings

Colleges: Making the Grade?
by Karen Gift & Thomas Gift
Despite frequent complaints that U.S. News has poisoned the college admissions process, schools have done precious little to combat the rankings infatuation. If higher education is serious about reversing the negative consequences-and perverse incentives-that stem from the one-number-fits-all U.S. News craze, it needs to devise a viable alternative. The best solution is to track student performance-from the first hour students walk in the door to years after they earn a diploma-and then make this information readily accessible. This would allow for meaningful comparisons of schools on metrics that matter most to prospective freshman and their families.

Source- TC Record

Parents Make Tough Decisions To Pay For College

Middle age is prime time for saving money. From your late 40s through early 60s, you’re supposed to squirrel away cash to cope with health care costs in your old age. But for millions of Americans, middle age also is the time when children are seeking help with higher-education bills, and elderly parents may be needing assistance with daily care. Scott and Kelley Hawkins, both 46, are in that middle position. As they brace for paying rising college expenses for two daughters in school at once, they know they will have many tough financial decisions to make. “A lot of extra stuff we used to have money for, we don’t have the money for” now that the hefty-tuition years are looming, Scott Hawkins said. The article is from NPR’s Family Matters series.

Source:Carnegie Foundation