Posts published in December, 2015

Rich And Poor Paths To College Diverge Even More

Rich-poor divide grows on college campuses

Rich and poor students take paths to college that are even more dramatically divergent than in the past, new data show. (Hechinger Report, Dec. 17)

How To Increase Participation and Success In Dual Enrollment High School/ College Programs

ACT Using Dual Enrollment to Improve the Educational Outcomes of High School Students This report offers key recommendations and analysis on how to effectively increase student participation and success in dual enrollment programs. It is the first in a series of steps ACT will take as part of its multiyear commitment to boost the number of students taking dual enrollment courses across the nation.

Math Demands For College Prep Not Justified

How much do college-bound students need?
Some are saying the math skills now demanded of many high school students are simply harder than they need to be, even for the majority of college-bound students. (Deseret News, Dec. 13)

It Is Time To Rethink The Senior Year In High School

This is the subtitle of my post today and more descriptive of what is in the JFF report

Co-authors Joel Vargas of JFF and Andrea Venezia of the Education Insights Center outline the principles of co-design, co-delivery, and co-validation that must guide new partnerships between high school and postsecondary systems to raise college readiness and success. The paper frames how educators can build upon momentum to increase collective responsibility and solutions across systems. It provides a framework that can be used to guide evidence-based experimentation within and across K-12 and postsecondary education systems. It also describes the practices of exemplary partnerships around the country and suggests policies to promote the development of more partnerships that can spread this innovative work.


Better Road Map For Effective High School College Partnerships

Co-authors Joel Vargas of JFF and Andrea Venezia of the Education Insights Center outline the principles of co-design, co-delivery, and co-validation that must guide new partnerships between high school and postsecondary systems to raise college readiness and success. The paper frames how educators can build upon momentum to increase collective responsibility and solutions across systems. It provides a framework that can be used to guide evidence-based experimentation within and across K-12 and postsecondary education systems. It also describes the practices of exemplary partnerships around the country and suggests policies to promote the development of more partnerships that can spread this innovative work.

Better Transfer System Crucial For College Completion

Paul Fain-Inside Higher Ed
The national college completion push has stalled, with graduation rates now going the wrong direction. Perhaps the best way to turn the tide, a new coalition argues, is to fix the inefficient and often neglected transfer pipeline from community colleges to four-year institutions.
“We’ve got to have much more urgency around this issue,” said Josh Wyner, vice president and executive director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program. “There’s room for improvement on both sides.”
Aspen has teamed up with the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College and Public Agenda on a project to prod states and colleges to do a better job on transfer.
To kick off the campaign, the groups plan to release a report next month from CCRC and the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center that will expose the contours of the problem. It won’t paint a pretty picture.
For example, the groups say the leaky transfer pipeline contributes to higher education’s equity gap, which is growing. That’s because research shows community college students who transfer to four-year institutions are more likely to be from low-income backgrounds than are their peers who first enroll in bachelor’s degree programs, even at nonselective colleges.
And while 80 percent of community college students say they eventually want to earn a bachelor’s degree, few ever do.
New completion data from the clearinghouse, released last month, found that just 38 percent of students who first enrolled at a community college earned a degree (associate or bachelor’s) within six years. And that rate is declining — down one percentage point from last year.
“The transfer system is inefficient. It’s very confusing to students,” said Davis Jenkins, a senior research associate at CCRC.
Public Agenda conducted focus groups in Indiana last year to see how the transfer process has worked for 333 students from eight Indiana University campuses and eight Ivy Tech Community College campuses.
Most of the students told stories about how they experience college as a maze, rather than as a clear pathway, according to a report Public Agenda released about the focus groups. Many said courses they took at Ivy Tech, which is the statewide community college system, did not transfer to Indiana, or that transfer credits did not count toward their majors.
“Only 11 of the 25 courses I took transferred,” said a student at Indiana. “And of the classes that transferred, not all of them transferred for my degree. I lost so much time and money.”
Likewise, students often described the college advising system as being unhelpful or even misleading about the transfer process. And students said they received inconsistent and confusing information about how to make the jump.
“The [Indiana University]/Ivy Tech relationship is kind of like a three-legged race,” a student at Indiana said. “They’re really bound together in a way that is undeniable, but they’re not in sync. It’s very difficult, I think, on both sides.”
Outliers and Exemplars
Indiana and Ivy Tech are hardly the only institutions to struggle with coordination on transfer. In fact, the Public Agenda report describes how the flagship university’s regional campuses have made strides to improve their transfer relationship with Ivy Tech. And the problems that remain in Indiana are common at many institutions around the country, Jenkins said.
For example, he said many regional four-year universities do not hold new student orientations for transfer students from community colleges. And that’s despite evidence the low-cost orientations can make a big difference for students.
“The colleges aren’t doing all the things they know that work for incoming freshmen,” said Wyner.
A significant driver of the problem, according to Jenkins, is the ambition and mission creep that infects many regional four-year universities and often leads to neglect of transfer students, who make up fully one-third of the sector’s new students.
“They think they’re Harvard and don’t realize the world has changed,” he said.
Even so, there are outliers. CCRC and Aspen have seen wide variation in the retention and graduation rates of transfer students at four-year universities. The forthcoming report will break down those differences at the state level, following 1.2 million community college students who first enrolled in 2007 to see how many transferred and earned a bachelor’s degree.
The data in the report will be sliced and diced in some novel ways. For example, it will show how lower-income students fare in comparison to their wealthier peers when it comes to transfer (not good).
Aspen has observed some of the best transfer relationships in the country firsthand, as part of the group’s vetting of candidates for its prize for community college excellence. Wyner said some of the winners, such as California’s Santa Barbara City College or Florida’s Valencia College and Santa Fe College, have been successful with the bachelor’s degree attainment rates of their former students.
For that to happen, however, Wyner said the two-year colleges need to closely collaborate with nearby public universities. That certainly has been the case for Valencia’s transfer partner, the University of Central Florida, which guarantees admission to Valencia graduates. About 30 percent of Valencia students transfer to a four-year institution, with 80 percent of those transfers going to UCF.
“Those who enter Valencia with their sights on UCF get counseling all along from both schools,” Aspen said in its 2011 write-up of Valencia as the first winner of the prize. “Representatives from the community college and from the university work together to analyze student data and align programs.”
As part of the new project, Aspen plans to release a playbook on what works in transfer partnerships. And the group will begin to focus in part on four-year institutions, which is a shift.
“This is relevant to the entire spectrum of four-year colleges,” Wyner said. “We’re starting to engage the four-year sector. And transfer is the natural place to start.”
The timing is right, in part because of the spread of performance-funding formulas (at least 33 states have those formulas in place) and the financial pressures most public colleges are facing, said both Wyner and Jenkins. As a result, many public universities need transfer students to boost their enrollment numbers — not to mention the tuition dollars those students bring. And four-year institutions need transfer students to stick around and graduate to avoid being dinged on funding formulas.
One goal of the project, Wyner said, is to change the way college completion is viewed. So far, related metrics and accountability measures are based on graduation and transfer rates of individual colleges. What happens to students after they leave an institution, however, often is not well understood.
“We now need to move to that next step,” Wyner said, “where multiple institutions own the awarding of a credential. That’s a much harder thing to do.”


6 Tips to Write the Best Personal Admit Statement

By Rachelle Scott

While the attractiveness of a resume, qualification, or a recommendation later is hardly under your control, the personal statement is your one and only opportunity to have a clean slate and “wow” a college recruiter. This makes the personal statement one of the most important elements of your college application—and one that should be given a significant amount of effort and attention.

Since, personal statements are mean to be “personal”, what you write (within the given guidelines) is entirely up to you. However, college admission experts have admitted to liking certain key characteristics present in a personal statement.

Based on those key characteristics, we’ve gathered a list of tips that might help students write a compelling personal statement a college recruiter would be highly reluctant to turn down.

  • Take your time: Never take only a day or two to finalize your personal statement. Plan it out, try various types, have them checked, and make sure you’re 100% sure about them before you hit submit. Your personal statement should never be a last minute thing!


  • Make it about you—but not quite: Here’s the confusing part. Your personal statement should be personal—that means it has to be specific to you. However, if you look at it from a recruiter’s perspective, what’s important is why you are a good fit for the course, the college, or the program. In order words, they are interested in knowing what you can contribute to their program/university. Ask yourself questions like, “what sets me apart from other students?” or “what experiences do I have that are critical to study program?”Make sure you have a POD (point of differentiation) to elaborate on.


  • Be descriptive: The more descriptive your essay, the clearer the picture you paint. This can be tricky if English is not your native language, in which case you might have to keep a dictionary and a thesaurus by your side. Look for words that are specific rather than generic. For instance, using “experienced” instead of “had” or “`favorable” instead of “nice”.


  • Do your research: The same way you would for a resume intended to be for a particular organization, it’s important to tailor your personal statement according to the University you will be applying to. You can also research on the University or faculty members to figure out exactly why you are interested in joining them. For instance, you could be interested in doing research with a particular notable professor in the University, who’s a leading figure in the industry you’re interested in. Make sure you include these sorts of reasons.


  • Follow the instructions: We don’t know if anyone ever told you this before, but every University has its own guidelines and preferences when it comes to personal statements. While some universities prefer a structured essay with word count limits, formatting, and other specification, others prefer to give the student’s freedom to write whatever they like. Make sure you follow the instructions or guidelines, and if necessary ask for help, see some examples, or pick something at groovy essays to be sure.


  • Avoid Clichés: Never bore your admission officer with quotes like, “In order to succeed, we must first believe” or “education is the most powerful weapon”. Buzz words and topics are a complete turn off.


Try to make your personal statement different from what they’d find in the bunch of other personal statement they’ve read or will be reading. Regardless of what the moral or gist of your essay is, the trick is to write it in a way they’ve never seen before.



Rachelle Scott loves to research about new ways technology can be implemented in education and how the two can revolutionize the sector. She also loves to blog on the topics related to Education, College.

New Community College Students Do Not Know What To Do

“They Never Told Me What to Expect, So I Didn’t Know What to Do”: Defining and Clarifying the Role of a Community College Student
by Melinda Mechur Karp & Rachel Hare Bork
This article draws interview data from three community colleges in Virginia to articulate the largely unspoken expectations, behaviors, and attitudes to which community college students must adhere if they are to be successful.



Critiques Of Accreditation Start From Wrong Premise

From Real Clear Education

The many current critics of higher education accreditation tend to fall into a few categories: like Marco Rubio and Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Carol Geary Schneider has little in common with Duncan, and probably couldn’t agree less with Rubio’s views on higher education — she refers to their critiques of higher education as a “steady drumbeat of assaults” on accreditation. But the head of the Association of American Colleges & Universities takes her own shots at accrediting agencies, Inside Higher Ed reports. In what she calls an “urgent message” to the agencies and to policy makers, Schneider decries as dangerous the policy proposals that political candidates like Rubio and Duncan’s U.S. Education Department are putting forward to “fix” accreditation. That’s because they define quality and value in higher education heavily if not entirely in terms of economic “return on investment” (job placement, income levels, etc.), almost completely ignoring the “quality learning” that the 1,300 member colleges and universities of Schneider’s organization strive to deliver.

Colleges Lead With Smile But Collect Loans With A Fist


Kevin Carey, 


The American student loan crisis is often seen as a problem of profligacy and predation. Wasteful colleges raise tuition every year, we are told, even as middle-class wages stagnate and unscrupulous for-profit colleges bilk the unwary. The result is mounting unmanageable debt.

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