October Articles of Interest for Higher Education Professionals

The Association for Institutional Research shared the following publication of interest for higher education professionals. Click on the title to access the full article. This article is credited to the Electronic AIR Newsletter (October edition).

SPECIAL EDITION

Conducting Focus Groups with College Students: Strategies to Ensure Success

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September Articles of Interest for Higher Education Professionals

The Association for Institutional Research shared the following publications of interest for higher education professionals. Click on each of the titles to access full articles. The synopsis of each article is credited to the Electronic AIR Newsletter (September edition).

Online College Students 2012: Comprehensive Data on Demands and Preferences (Ellen Peters)

In Online College Students 2012: Comprehensive Data on Demands and Preferences, The Learning House, Inc. reports survey results of 1,500 individuals enrolled in or planning to enroll in fully online undergraduate or graduate programs. The survey compiled data on motivation for online study; strengths and weaknesses of online formats; services needed; and effective promotion and advertising of online programs. The report notes that students of all ages participate in online education with about 40 percent of online students younger than 30. Most online students live within 100 miles of the physical location of the institution in which they enroll and about two-thirds attend not-for-profit institutions. Survey findings also indicate that online students rely on institutional websites for communication and want compressed terms of study at an affordable cost.

The College Advantage: Weathering the Economic Storm (Katie Zaback)

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce report, The College Advantage: Weathering the Economic Storm, provides a broad analysis of how educational attainment impacts employment for workers in times of recession. The report shows that although unemployment levels increased sharply for all workers, individuals without a college education bore the brunt of the recession’s job losses – losing nearly 5.6 million jobs. Further, the jobs gained during the recovery that began in 2010 have been limited to those requiring a college education. The analysis also examines the differential effects of the recession on wages and by industry, occupations, and for men and for women.  The report concludes that the recession exposed the shortcomings of the U.S. workforce and accelerated the long-term trend toward more skilled jobs requiring higher levels of postsecondary education.

Strategies for Success: Promising Ideas in Adult College Completion (Melodie Christal)

The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) Policy Exchange, Strategies for Success: Promising Ideas in Adult College Completion, addresses five topics relevant to increasing adult degree and certificate completion: (1) the need for better data on adults with prior college; (2) partnerships between employers and higher education institutions; (3) effective marketing campaigns targeted to reach adults with prior college credits; (4) evaluation of transfer credits; and (5) credit for prior learning and work experience. The report highlights promising strategies and practices for each topic.

August Articles of Interest for Higher Education Professionals

The Association for Institutional Research shared the following publications of interest for higher education professionals. Click on each of the titles to access full articles. The synopsis of each article is credited to the Electronic AIR Newsletter (August edition).

How America Pays for College 2012 (Melodie Christal)

Sallie Mae’s How America Pays for College 2012 describes the decisions families make in paying for a college education, focusing on undergraduate students ages 18 to 24. The study provides the average amounts and proportion of total costs paid from each funding source a “typical” family uses to pay for college. In 2011-12, average family spending declined for the second year in a row, dropping by 5 percent to $20,902. In addition, families shifted how they pay for college. Drawing from savings, income and loans, students paid 30% of the total bill, up from 24% four years ago, while parents covered 37% of the bill, down from 45% four years ago. The report also addresses the use of credit cards by families and students to cover college costs as well as the effect of the Card Act of 2009, which restricted the marketing and distribution of credit cards to students.

Is College Affordable? In Search of a Meaningful Definition (Mary Sapp)

The Institute for Higher Education Policy Issue Brief, Is College Affordable? In Search of a Meaningful Definition, argues that perceptions about college affordability are more negative than reality as it is difficult for people to think about college as an investment. The brief recommends shifting college affordability discussions from sticker price to net price and treating college as an investment with a high rate of return that should not simply be funded from residual family income. The affordability debate is further complicated as investments in a college education do not pay off equally for all students and are typically not viewed as an investment to be paid over time from increased lifetime income. The report proposes better information about complex pricing, financial aid, and the benefits of postsecondary education as well as efforts to provide more grant aid, targeted tax subsides, and better protection for students who cannot repay loans.

New Americans in Postsecondary Education (Melodie Christal)

The NCES Statistics in Brief, New Americans in Postsecondary Education: A Profile of Immigrant and Second-Generation American Undergraduates, presents data from the 2007-08 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:08) on undergraduates who immigrated to the United States or who had at least one immigrant parent, i.e., a second-generation American. The report compares background characteristics, educational pursuits, and attainment for these two immigrant groups with all undergraduates (excluding foreign students). The report also compares immigrants of Asian and Hispanic descent—the most prevalent immigrant and second-generation American undergraduates.

July Articles of Interest for Higher Education Professionals

The Association for Institutional Research shared the following publications of interest for higher education professionals. Click on each of the titles to access full articles. The synopsis of each article is credited to the Electronic AIR Newsletter (June edition).

Remediation: Higher Education’s Bridge to Nowhere (Alice Van Ommeren)

Remediation: Higher Education’s Bridge to Nowhere, a report from Complete College America, finds that more than one-half of students entering community colleges and about 20% of students entering four-year institutions are placed in remedial classes. The report cites the large numbers of students in remedial classes as a significant barrier to certificate/degree completion. Fewer than 1 in 10 students who start in remedial courses graduate from a community college in three years and only about one-third complete a bachelor’s degree in six years. Instead of traditional remediation, the report suggests four steps states can take to increase student success: (1) strengthen high school preparation; (2) place students with deficiencies in redesigned college-level courses with built-in, co-requisite support; (3) build extra support around gateway courses; and (4) encourage students to enter programs of study when they first enroll. The report provides Common Completion Metrics data from 31 states as well as examples of successful initiatives.

Going the Distance in Adult College Completion: Lessons from the Non-Traditional No More Project (Melodie Christal)

The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) report, Going the Distance in Adult College Completion: Lessons from the Non-Traditional No More Project, summarizes policies and practices targeted at increasing adult degree completion. WICHE worked with Arkansas, Colorado, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, and South Dakota to identify and eliminate barriers keeping adult learners with a significant number of college credits from returning to college to complete their degrees. The report addresses five areas in which barriers were identified and promising strategies were designed to better serve the adult learner. The report recommends that institutions offer a single point of contact for returning adults to help them through the readmission process and increased flexibility regarding policies and practices.

College Enrollment and Work Activity of 2011 High School Graduates (Melodie Christal)

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has published a report providing information on 2011 high school graduates (16 to 24 years old) and their educational attainment and work activity. As of October 2011, 68.3% of 2011 high school graduates were enrolled in postsecondary education, with women enrolling at a higher rate than men (72.3% vs. 64.6%). The enrollment rate of Asians (86.7%) was higher than whites (67.7%), blacks (67.5%), and Hispanics (66.6%). Recent high school graduates who were not enrolled in college in October 2011 were more likely to be working or looking for work than those who were enrolled in college – 68.7% compared with 38.8%.

Condition of Education 2012 (Melodie Christal)

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Condition of Education 2012 report presents 49 indicators on the status and condition of education covering all levels of education from early childhood through postsecondary education. This year’s report examines how demographic and policy changes have impacted high schools over the past 20 years.

June Articles of Interest for Higher Education Professionals

The Association for Institutional Research shared the following publications of interest for higher education professionals. Click on each of the titles to access full articles. The synopsis of each article is credited to the Electronic AIR Newsletter (May edition).

A Stronger Nation through Education

Lumina Foundation’s latest report, A Stronger Nation through Education, tracks U.S. progress toward Lumina’s “Big Goal” that 60% of Americans will hold a high-quality postsecondary degree or credential by 2025. The data shows modest gains in college attainment rates with 38.3% of working-age adults (ages 24-65) holding a two-year or four-year degree in 2010. However, the growth rate is not sufficient to reach 60% attainment by 2025. The report provides detailed breakdowns of degree attainment at the national, state, and county levels as well as each of the nation’s 100 most populous metropolitan areas.

Reclaiming the American Dream

In summer 2011, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) launched a new initiative to educate an additional five million students by 2020. Reclaiming the American Dream is the culminating report from the 21st-Century Commission on the Future of Community College. The report focuses on the “Three Rs:” reform: (1) redesign students’ educational experiences; (2) reinvent institutional roles; and (3) reset the system to create partnerships and incentives for student and institutional success. The report includes seven recommendations and strategies for implementing the “Three Rs.”

Simplifying Student Aid: What It Would Mean for States

The College Board Advocacy & Policy Center report, Simplifying Student Aid: What It Would Mean for States, looks at implications of the federal government’s proposal to simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Five states (Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio, Texas, and Vermont) are studied to determine if a simpler FAFSA would have an impact on state budgets and determining who should receive financial aid. The report concludes the simplified FAFSA would lead to minor changes in the allocation of federal and state awards and the general integrity of financial aid programs would be retained. The report also notes the simpler FAFSA would most likely lead to increased participation in postsecondary education of low-income students.

May Articles of Interest for Higher Education Professionals

The Association for Institutional Research shared the following publications of interest for higher education professionals. Click on each of the titles to access full articles. The synopsis of each article is credited to the Electronic AIR Newsletter (April edition).

Transfer and Mobility: A National View of Pre-Degree Student Movement in Postsecondary Institutions

The second in a series of Signature Reports from the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) Research Center, Transfer and Mobility: A National View of Pre-Degree Student Movement in Postsecondary Institutions examines students’ increasingly complex transfer patterns. Most data analyses currently view students as progressing linearly through college at one institution and treating students who do not receive a degree at that institution as dropouts. NSC found one-third of the fall 2006 first-time students changed or transferred institutions before earning a degree, a rate consistent across all types of institutions excluding the for-profit sector. Of those students who transfer, 37% transfer in their second year, and 22% transfer as late as their fourth or fifth years. In addition, 25% transfer more than one time. Given the mobility of students, the authors suggest postsecondary education should investigate new approaches and metrics to better inform students and institutions about the range of successful enrollment patterns.

The Role of Pell Grants in Access, Persistence, and Completion

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) released the Issue Brief, The Role of Pell Grants in Access, Persistence, and Completion that examines the shifting policy emphasis from college access to college completion and student success, and the potential consequences for students. The brief suggests access itself is not enough to ensure attainment of a higher education credential, and while Pell grants and student aid programs reduce financial barriers, low- and moderate-income students continue to struggle with persistence and completion. It questions whether the benefits of education should be measured in terms of individual success or as a return on societal investment. The report also explores several approaches to help improve student success.

April Articles of Interest for Higher Education Professionals

The Association for Institutional Research shared the following publications of interest for higher education professionals. Click on each of the titles to access full articles. The synopsis of each article is credited to the Electronic AIR Newsletter (March edition).

The Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance released the report Pathways to Success: Integrating Learning with Life and Work to Increase National College Completion outlining the barriers traditional and nontraditional college students face in completing their degrees. The report highlights best practices at higher education institutions and describes state and federal government strategies to improve student completion rates. The Advisory Committee calculates that increasing the number of successful nontraditional students will require significant modifications in the structure and delivery of higher education as well as changes to federal student aid programs. The proposed changes most relevant to institutional researchers are revisions to IPEDS to better reflect how nontraditional students complete their educational goals and the need for cooperation between different data consortia to define key data elements.

The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2011 report was released in January by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) at UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute (HERI). This annual report of entering first-year students is based on the findings from the 2011 Freshman Survey and includes responses from over 200,000 first-time, full-time students at 270 colleges and universities. The report shows that fall 2011 first-time, full-time students differ from respondents in past years in their political views, academic behaviors and attitudes, resources for paying for college, and use of social networking. In addition, there were differences in the reasons students attend college by intended major and in college choice for first-generation students.