Posts published in May, 2016

College Costs Rise Beyond What Students Can Pay

Policy choices by political and institutional leaders have made college less affordable in all 50 states, with real consequences for American families. College Affordability Diagnosis, a study published today by the Institute for Research on Higher Education at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (Penn GSE) ranks all 50 states on college affordability, and gives a sobering view of the difficulty many low- and middle-income families have paying for college even after financial aid is taken into account.

Among the findings:

  • Even in the best-performing states, college is less affordable than it was in 2008.
  • Students can no longer work their way through college in most states.
  • Financial aid doesn’t go as far as it used to. Even though more aid is available, it hasn’t kept pace with rising educational expenses.
  • Most community college systems, historically an entryway into higher education, can no longer be considered an affordable option — a key reason the higher education attainment gap between Whites and minorities has persisted, and in some cases grown, even as the population continues to diversify.
  • Geography can determine opportunity. College costs, available aid, and institutional options vary widely by state, even within the same region.
  • Every state is projected to fall short of having enough college graduates to meet their workforce needs by 2020. In many cases, they are not even close.

College Affordability Diagnosis provides a new understanding of college expenses in relation to family income, and how those expenses have dramatically changed in a short period of time. The study — by Penn GSE’s Joni Finney, William Doyle, associate professor of public policy and higher education at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College, Patrick Callan, president of the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), and HEPI senior policy analyst Darcie Harvey — shows the potentially devastating effects on America’s economy and social fabric if states and colleges fail to make meaningful changes.

Together, these findings reveal a nation that is poorly positioned for the present, much less the future. Without changes to affordability policies, the researchers warn, higher education will become another mechanism for the further stratification of America.

Making the most out of college tours and avoiding some ineffective questions


Currently we’re in the midst of the college visiting season, when high school students and their family members throughout the country check out different colleges before taking the plunge. It is a tradition to visit campuses during the spring break, but there are some collegiate suitors who try to set themselves apart from the competition by making their campus tours even more meaningful. The campus tour is a vital component of any visit to a prospective university or college. With the guidance of either a guide or student, you can easily explore the grounds and buildings of a college before you apply for or accept admission into it.

It is pretty unfortunate, however, to note that nowadays majority of the college campus tours focus on amenities and social activities instead of visiting financial aid offices, professor’s offices or career services. Students and parents can plan their personal tours and can even supplement the pre-planned tours that are offered by colleges. Every family should take some specific steps while planning their college visits, regardless of whether the student is a junior just starting to look or a senior who is streamlining choices for the final application deadline.

College tours – Make the most out of them

  • Check out the college campus online first: Before you visit the campus, make sure you check its website online and watch a few tour videos. It is through these videos that your teens will get a clear insight into what the environment of the campus looks like. If you see that there’s too little grass on the campus or that the campus does not have enough urban vitality, you can definitely eliminate scheduling a visit. You can even web chat with experts and admission officers as well.
  • Call offices and ask important questions: Did you know that college tours can cost you from hundreds to thousands of dollars per visit? If you didn’t, it’s high time you ask your teen to call the college offices far in advance of your visit, so that you can make the most out of this costly trip. These college offices should definitely include the department offices of the prospective majors of the student. Ask some of the most vital questions, such as about the prospects of students post-graduation, internship opportunities and fees over phone.
  • Fix advance appointments: Making advance appointments makes the difference between a successful college visit and a wasted one. Your teen should meet the professor(s) of his intended major, ask about the size of the classes, coursework and level of personal attention to students. As such meetings are held in one of those classrooms, it is likely that your teen can get the chance to visit some or most of the college campus as well.
  • Make another conventional campus tour: It is fine to look at the gym, student union and dorms. These are some of the places with which your teen should be well acquainted, especially with regards to dorm food. This conventional tour of the campus is important, but don’t forget to add some other necessary appointments along with this tour.

Avoiding some of the most ineffective questions while on a college tour

Nearly all campus tour guides are either present students or former students. Hence, it is needless to mention the fact that they can turn out to be invaluable sources of opinions about the social life of the campus, the best classes, the dining hall food or the worst dorms. Why ask them the most irrelevant questions, to which they don’t have a good answer? Here are some questions to avoid.

Questions that the guide won’t know or would feel uncomfortable answering

As mentioned earlier, most guides are college students and thus you should be careful about what you ask them. Financial aid might be a subject too personal to talk to the guide about as it involves both parental and personal resources. A college tour guide who is also a student also might not be aware of how the college rewards loans or grants. Instead, you should ask your admissions counselor such questions related to financial aid.

Do you want to know about specialized learning needs? Even if you come to know that the tour guide has gone through a similar experience and has had a personal experience, he or she might not be comfortable to share this experience with you.

Finally, a college tour guide is very less likely to know about the decisions that are tackled at the administrative level. Asking his experience at the junior level may be fine but inquiring about the classes that are assigned adjuncts and those that have tenured professors may not lead to a well-informed answer.

Questions which can be answered by visiting the website of the college

Another kind of question that should be avoided are the ones that deals with figures and facts about the college. Any answer which includes statistics falls in this category—say for instance, the percentage of students who matriculate every year, size of an average class, percentage of students living on campus, the rate of graduation and so on. You needn’t avoid these questions entirely, but you can easily visit their website to find detailed answers.

Safety and crime are two other topics to consider. The statistics which you see on the website of the college might say a lot, but the college tour guide might also share his personal experience about safety around the campus. The website might discuss some useful measures like late night patrols or increased lighting throughout the campus, but hearing such things from a current student is definitely more useful.

We see that an effective college tour can offer you invaluable insight into the day-to-day life within a campus. You can make the most out of your tour time by targeting your queries to maximize informed, relevant answers. Irrespective of whether you belong to a low-income family or a wealthy household, the online report from the Department of Education offers insights on the best universities for you. Just take a tour and found out the most important information before applying for admission!

David Gutierrez has worked in the field of web design since 2005. Right now he started learning Java in order to get second occupation. His professional interests defined major topics of his articles. David writes about new web design software, recently discovered professional tricks and also monitors the latest updates of the web development.


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New National/State Metrics To Measure Higher Education Success

Inside HigerED
 A new report from the Institute for Higher Education Policy identifies the key metrics that would help federal and state data systems provide information on colleges’ performance, efficiency and equity.

The report, developed in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, details that the information provided today leaves out answers to college access, progression, completion, cost and outcomes. Using the three metrics identified in the report and integrating them into federal and state systems will make the information available to all students from all types of institutions.

“This report draws on the knowledge and experience of higher education leaders and experts to lay out in detail the metrics we should be collecting and explains why those data will make a difference, for all students, but particularly for those who traditionally have been underserved by higher education,” said Michelle Cooper, IHEP’s president, in a news release. “The field needs a core set of comprehensive and comparable metrics and should incorporate those metrics into federal and state data systems.”

Getting A Good Job After College Graduation After A Rough Start

  By Kayla Matthews


There it is: That beautiful, scripted piece of paper that represents all of your hard work for the last several years. That diploma, which adorns your wall as a faithful reminder that you can make your life something better with your degree, sits and collects dust.

It’s true. A number of college grads who step out into the workforce don’t do so in the field they studied. In fact, the real world is full of all sorts of topsy-turvy concepts, like English majors crunching numbers (Is that ever a good idea?) and Master’s degree recipients flipping burgers.

This doesn’t mean, however, that your degree is worthless — so don’t lose heart or even question that for a second. The experience gained from your years in college are worth far more than that 20-pound piece of cardstock can relay.

But what if your first job out of college isn’t your dream job and pays minimum wage?

It’s not the end of the road for you. Not even close.

Should you find yourself in a job that doesn’t closely resemble any of the papers you spent all night writing, square your shoulders and figure out a way to work the jobs you want, even when you don’t have the job you want.

Make a Long-term Plan

Few things are forever, and your current job definitely doesn’t need to be. If your start into the job world wasn’t quite as you planned, sketch a new plan. Build in small, achievable goals that will help you get where you want to be long-term. Consider shadowing or talking to others in the areas you’d like to work, in order to figure out how they got where they are. You never know if their path can help you define your own.


Sometimes, the only thing standing between you and your future career is experience. What better way to gain it than through volunteering? Groups like the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps are highly regarded and look great on a resume. Not to mention the fact that you’ll be able to change lives and travel the world by joining.

Become a Freelancer

While you may not have found a use for those stellar skills just yet, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still try to use them. Consider becoming a freelancer to beef up your portfolio and gain some tangible experience. Freelancers have the ability to choose the projects they’ll take on and set the rates that suit their lifestyles.

Keep ApplyingThe job search process can be difficult, that’s for sure, but 2016 graduates are expected to be hired five percent more than 2015 graduates were. So keep in mind that every “no” is one step closer to a “yes.” Don’t give up on looking for that dream job — keep sending out your resume and be sure to modify or tailor it (along with your cover letter) to the job you’re applying for.

Glean What You Can

This experience, whether you want to admit it or not, is good for you. As financial experts still expect some struggles for the economy going forward, the amount of time you spend in your first job will be hard to gauge. It may be cruddy where you’re at, and you may hate parts of your job, but try looking for those teachable moments that are all around you. Whether it’s a co-worker who really knows how to sell, or the one who can make even the craziest customers calm, learn what you can from them. You never know when those skills will come in handy in future positions.

You may not hold the exact job position that you want. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t work towards your dream job. Gain experience, make a long-term plan and talk to people in the field to narrow down your future path. You never know where your first job may lead!

Kayla Matthews writes about college life and student productivity for Hack College, Student Advisor and The Huffington Post. Follow her on Twitter @KaylaEMatthews.

7 Cheap or Free Summer Activities for College Students

By Robert Parmer

Summer is right around the corner which means the majority of college students are about to have a lot of free time on their hands. While some students are able to enjoy a summer filled with elaborate vacations and expensive activities, the reality is that most of us can’t afford to do so. But that doesn’t mean your summer has to be a letdown!

Most of us are more focused on finishing school and trying not to be broke all the time, which is understandable. However, it’s always possible to make the most of your copious amounts of free time in the summer. Focus on doing things that are enjoyable to you and your wallet.

Geocaching: I tried Geocaching for the first time last summer and was enamored by the whole process. Remember how fun scavenger hunts were when you were younger? Now, imagine a scavenger hunt on steroids and that’s Geocaching!

Geocaching is basically modern day treasure hunting. Thousands of plastic, waterproof boxes are hidden in each region. These contain an item which can be taken upon finding, but a replacement item is supposed to be left in it’s place. There is also a small log book in each box, that you can sign to prove you found it.

Since this is a free activity and there’s no limit to how frequently you can partake in Geocaching many people make it a hobby and benefit from the outdoorsy elements and associated exercise.

Cool off in water: Plan a day at the beach, river, lake, or pool. Although some public parks charge a daily rate, it’s usually per car. Remember to carpool to your favorite swimming spot and you’ll save money. If you’re up for something slightly more adventurous, search out the best swimming spots in your state, and plan a day trip or camping excursion!

Rearrange or Upgrade Your Living Space: When my living space gets too cluttered I find myself a bit frazzled. Defeat organizational stress by changing the scenery around you! Spend some time at thrift stores and consignment shops to find inexpensive furniture that’s new to you. I found all of the recliners and couches currently in my house at second hand stores–there’s no shame in buying used!

Start a Kitchen Garden: Gardening at any scale is sustainable and stress relieving. You’re investing money in a wise way by growing your own food! You’ll save money in the long run by gardening because growing food from seeds or starts is much cheaper. Home grown produce is also much healthier than most of the produce you’ll find at a store. And it’s less wasteful and creates less of a carbon footprint since homegrown produce doesn’t need to shipped around like most produce.

If you’re looking for a simple starting point, experiment with a basic kitchen herb garden and eventually graduate to larger kitchen gardening endeavors or urban gardens. I have a tiny greenhouse on my front porch and love rotating out seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Learn or Refine a Skill for Free: Since we live is such a tech heavy world these days, accessibility to learning or refining skills is progressing at a huge rate. By simply googling or searching YouTube for ‘How-to’ videos, anyone can learn almost any skill they desire.

For example, if you want to become a better chef, watch some instructional cooking videos and try out the recipes over the course of a weekend. Learn how to bake your own bread, experiment with vegetarian or vegan cooking if you haven’t before, or try cooking your favorite foreign dish from scratch.

Find a remarkable Place and Take a Panoramic Photo. Walk, hike, or bike ride your way to a remote location and take your best shot at a wide angle photography. Basically all smartphones have capabilities built in for panoramic photos. And if you aren’t happy with the stock panoramic pics, then experiment with one of the dozens of free apps out there.

Also try finding a busy place with lots of movement and take a time lapse video. Remember, location is everything; the more captivating the subject is, the more compelling the photos you take will be.

Volunteer Your Time: Sometimes volunteering your time just feels like the right thing to do. I try to make time for my favorite non-profit organizations every summer. Whether it’s working shifts feeding animals at the zoo, helping organize or run community events, or simply assisting a family member, neighbor, or friend with something volunteering leaves you with a sense of fulfilment.

Additionally, these volunteer hours may be useful for current or future college courses, so always make sure to track all of your volunteer hours. I use a simple spreadsheet with date stamps and logged volunteer hours. This is easier than a volunteer log notebook or journal, and I never misplace it.

Whether you’re traveling, relaxing, working, or even taking some classes this summer break, remember that you can always find inexpensive or free things to do with your downtime. The above highlighted activities are just scratching the surface, you’re only limited by how creative you get with your ideas!

Robert Parmer is a freelance web writer and student of Boise State University. Outside of writing and reading adamantly he enjoys creating and recording music, caring for his pet cat, and commuting by bicycle whenever possible. Follow him on Twitter @robparmer


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Tough Job Market for the Young Without College Degrees


MAY 10, 2016

At the University of Michigan this month, employers have been lining up since the fall to offer interviews and boast of their companies’ benefits. Recruiters would ask when their competitors were coming, said Geni Harclerode, the university’s assistant director of employer development, and then they’d say: “Well, we want to come the week before.”

“This has been one of our largest seasons of hiring,” she said. “The job market has been very good.”

The outlook for many high school graduates is more challenging, as Vynny Brown can attest. Now 20, he graduated two years ago from Waller High  School in Texas, and has been working for nearly a year at Pappasito’s Cantina in Houston, part of a chain of Tex-Mex restaurants. He earns $7.25 an hour filling takeout orders or $2.13 an hour plus tips as a server, which rarely adds up to more than the minimum, he said. He would like to apply to be a manager, but those jobs require some college experience.

“That is something I don’t have,” said Mr. Brown, who says he cannot afford to go to college now. “It’s the biggest struggle I’ve had.”

Most young workers have the same problem as Mr. Brown. Only 10 percent of 17- to 24-year-olds have a college or advanced degree, according to a new study by the Economic Policy Institute, although many more of them will eventually graduate.

And for young high school graduates, the unemployment rate is disturbingly high: 17.8 percent. Add in those who are underemployed, either because they would like a full-time job but can only find part-time work, or they are so discouraged that they’ve given up actively searching, and the share jumps to more than 33 percent.

Younger workers have always had a tougher time finding a job than their older, more experienced counterparts. Even so, the economic recovery has progressed more slowly for young high school graduates than for those coming out of college.

“It’s improved since the recession, but it’s still pretty poor,” said Elise Gould, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, who noted the average hourly wage for high school graduates had declined since 2000 despite increases in the minimum wage in some places.

Ms. Gould is part of a growing chorus of economists, employers and educators who argue more effort needs to be put into improving job prospects for people without college degrees.

“Without question we have failed to pay attention to and invest in opportunities for young people who are not on a path to go to four years of college,” said Chauncy Lennon, the head of work force initiatives at JPMorgan Chase, which has started a $75 million program to design and deliver career-focused education in high schools and community colleges.

For high school students, a four-year college education is frequently held out as the only viable option, precisely because job opportunities and wages are so much better upon graduation. But many who sign up never finish. “The most common reason they fail to complete is that they need to start earning a living to support their families,” Mr. Lennon said.

Vocational, career and technical high schools have often been stigmatized as a last resort for underachievers. At the same time, educators and administrators in some places have been criticized for steering minority students toward them in lieu of academic programs.

The initiative sponsored by Chase is aimed at repairing that reputation. Although some traditional middle-skills opportunities for construction and clerical workers are shrinking, Mr. Lennon said, others are growing. In health care, for instance, radiology and phlebotomy technicians are needed; in advanced manufacturing and aviation, mechanical maintenance workers are in demand.

He added that vocational schools should no longer be thought of as dead ends, since they can serve as steppingstones to associate degrees at community colleges or to enrollment at four-year institutions.

Despite the improving job market, what particularly troubled Martha Ross, a researcher at the Brookings Institution in Washington, were the 3.2 million disadvantaged youths between 16 and 24 who were not in school and did not have a job.

College Teaching: Five ways to Better Prepare Students for Life


Teachers show students how to do things like math, and they teach subjects such as history and English. But, how much are students really learning? Sure, they are learning the regular academic subjects, but how well prepared are they going to be for the real world after graduation? Unfortunately, what students learn in school will prepare them for the next phase of their educations, but it doesn’t always prepare them for life. So, let’s take a look at five ways that teachers can better prepare students for life after graduation.


1) Teach Complex Thinking Skills – It is important to teach students how to think outside of the box. They need to understand that there are often many different paths to the same destination, and one path may not be as good as another one. Teach them that today’s employers are looking for people who are able to think fast on their feet, who are creative, and who have innovative ideas. Encourage your students to come up with new and exciting ideas, and use various subjects to do so, such as politics, complex mathematics, and international affairs.


2) Prep them for College and Careers – Obviously, high school is preparation for college and careers. But, it is a lot more than just getting good grades so students can move on. In addition to teaching them the basics, start teaching them about life skills they will really need, such as how to balance a checkbook. Remember, not all students will be heading off to college, so you need to make sure that all of your students are prepared, no matter which path they choose. If you know that certain students won’t be attending college, do what you can to put them on the path to careers that will suit their skills and abilities.


3) Teach them about Investing – It is never too early to teach students how to properly invest their money. Many people end up leaving high school, and even college, without having the first clue about how to invest. It is a good idea to get them started with a beginner investment program, such as the one offered by WealthFront. While they may not have a lot to invest right now, they will learn what they need to do. Then, when the time is right, they can make that first invest, and the first $10,000 is absolutely free to invest.


4) Use Online Assessment Tools – As sad as it may sound, many kids are pushed into certain areas of study. The pressure often comes from parents who want their kids to follow in their footsteps (or do better than they did). Then, there are the students who are terrified of all of the choices before them, and they take the first job they are offered. Online skills assessment tools can be used to help your students figure out how to best use their skills and interests, and to choose their own career paths.


5) Encourage Business/School Partnerships – Many high schools and colleges set up recruiting with employers, but the jobs are only available after graduation. It is a much better idea to encourage businesses to partner with schools. Then, businesses are involved with the schools and students at a much earlier stage, and build a long-term relationship. Freshman students get to learn more about their future career choices, and they can even gain experience. For instance, a great idea is for businesses to take on more student interns. A lot of people may complain about non-paid internships, but they really are a great way to learn on-the-job skills that can’t be learned in a classroom.


Jane Hurst has been working in education for over 5 years as a teacher. She loves sharing her knowledge with students, is fascinated about edtech and loves reading, a lot. Follow Jane on Twitter!

How Mind Mapping Helps in Speed Reading


Speed reading is a process elaborating a complex learning methodology, which might assist you to become a smart learner.

An average reader like us can read around 200 to 400 words per minute. However, speed readers say that they can read about 1000-1700 words per minute.

Do you really believe that they can retain knowledge easily, after speed reading?

Well, you must be unsure of the answer, as everyone is different from each other and hence, blessed with different abilities.

But, as a matter of fact, being an average reader, you need to learn speed reading along with adopting mind mapping techniques.

Speed reading and mind mapping go well together.

Mind mapping contributes significantly in retaining and recalling concepts, ideas, relations and connections. It is basically a visual representation of the concepts you read, just like infographics.

Thus, once you learn speed reading techniques with mind mapping, you can easily process and retrieve important information.

Here is how mind mapping can assist you in reading faster:

  1. Concise information and help build relation

With the help of mind mapping technique, you can demonstrate difficult relationships and understand different concepts.

When you read something, simply illustrate it on a paper or a tool like MindMeister, this helps in better understanding and restoring information.

Mind mapping is essential to boost your reading speed by summarizing information within your head.

  1. Better factual information processing

Mind mapping plays a vital role in your life, when it assists you to perfectly absorb factual information.

In speed reading, you need to efficiently integrate mind mapping tool.

It lets you understand difficult concepts, identify links between different topics and drive a conclusion at a fast pace. Using that you won’t need third-party assistance such as coursework help pros.

Mind mapping is an essential tool to help speed readers, effectively absorb and then implement the   acquired knowledge.

It amplifies benefits and improves your entire learning process efficiently.

  1. Saves time and improves reading efficiency

Mind mapping saves your time as it boosts your reading speed and makes you an effective reader and learner.

You become capable of creating imaginary pictures on the go. Each new word, sentence and paragraph is added in your existing knowledge bank, which is already loaded with diverse links and relationships.

Your knowledge bank continues to grow and progress efficiently at a fast pace and ultimately saves you time.

The above discussed features of mind mapping are essential for learning speed reading.

Speed reading is itself a complete process, defined in various steps. This process is well supported by mind mapping and combination of both empowers you to grasp knowledge and enjoy great benefits.

To avail the great benefits of speed reading and to become a smart learner, adopt the following speed reading techniques:

  • Develop a habit of reading chunks and blocks. Recall the time when you used to divide words into letters in the beginning and then later became proficient in reading the entire word.


Similarly, at first it will feel a bit daunting, start with two chunks and then accelerate to three, four and five. This practice will surely increase your reading speed.


  • Adopt incomplete sentence scanning method. Just ignore the first and last words of a sentence, read the center text, as you can figure out the underlying meaning of the entire context from there.


  • Only use your eye balls while reading, because head movement or any other kind of action interrupts your reading speed.

Have you ever seen someone in a movie reading a letter? If not then do so next time. You will notice that their eyes move from left to right and then right to left when they shift sentence.

You also need to follow this technique, if you really want to boost your speed reading.


  • Use your fingers along with moving your eyes, as you read down a page. Your fingers serve as a guiding pointer to your eyes. This practice will for sure assist you in speed reading.
  • Don’t stick upon a word for long time unnecessarily. It was beneficial during initial school days, as we had to learn patterns and pronunciation.

But as we are now adults, it is better not to do so, as it hinders speed reading.

Remember to incorporate the mind mapping tool, while you adapt to some of the above discussed speed reading techniques.

Author Bio:

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, and more.





State Higher Education Governance Needs An Overhaul

Effective higher education governance systems are critical components of a state’s capacity to achieve long-term goals. State structures for postsecondary coordination and governance, however, remain restricted by statutory mandates from earlier times and by allegiance to activities out-of-step with current needs.

A new report from Education Commission of the States and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, State Policy Leadership for the Future: History of state coordination and governance and alternatives for the future, highlights how states have revisited their governance arrangements in response to changing conditions and expectations.

“State governance systems often influence how decisions are made and by whom with respect to higher education policies and practices,” said Mary Fulton, senior project manager/policy analyst. “This resource helps policy leaders consider how governance structures may need to evolve to advance their state’s education and workforce priorities.”

The report, authored by Dr. Aims McGuinness, reviews the development of states’ role in higher education using six functions as an organizing framework: state-level planning; finance policy; use of information; regulation; administration/service agency functions; and system and institutional governance. The paper then outlines a way forward in shaping the key components of state higher education structures and policy leadership for the future.

Some key takeaways from this report:

  • Nearly every state will need to revise its postsecondary governance system to increase educational attainment and prepare citizens for the workforce.
  • States also will need a policy leadership process for gaining consensus around long-term goals and entities that can carry out the related strategies.
  • Creating governance systems for the future is doable provided state leaders recognize the consequences of not acting.

For questions, contact Education Commission of the States Communications Director Amy Skinner at or (303) 299.3609. 

Tuition Discounts Reach Peak:New Strategy Needed

Discounting Hits New Highs: Inside Higher Ed

Private colleges and universities are trying new strategies after discount rates rose to unseen levels yet again.