• AACRAO Eye on Research April 2018

    by Wendy Kilgore | Apr 23, 2018


    Socioeconomic Paradigm Struggles for Low-Income Graduates of Elite Leagues

    I found this story in the Christian Science Monitor of great interest.  The article examined the struggles of a few low-income, and/or first-generation students who experienced difficulty transitioning from “poor to privileged.”  These authors note that, “The most exalted schools in higher education, coveted golden tickets to success, don’t come with warning labels: This will change your life. Your relationship with your family. Even how you identify yourself. . .”  Not-yet-published research has been completed on 30 first-generation MBA students about their college-to-work transition prior to business school. The researchers’ take away from this work is “ . . . that even if students absorb new social cues and expectations in college, it’s not as though they become middle or upper class in the way they understand themselves.”

    I would hazard an educated guess that the students’ experiences highlighted in this article are not likely to be unique to just elite institutions.  Any low-income, and/or first-generation background college student who graduates and is then subsequently employed at a much higher level than those in her immediate family likely faces at least some of the same issues to a greater or lesser degree. The question is, how can, and should, institutions prepare these students for these socioeconomic adjustment challenges without erasing where they came from and who they are?

    AACRAO Research Update

    Registrar Career Profile Report

    “No one – seriously, no one -- plans to be a registrar.”  

    From the words of wisdom, personal stories, and data, it is clear that the registrar position is complex, data-centric, and involves building and maintaining positive relationships throughout the institution.  Registrars need to be both detail oriented and big picture thinkers, technologically savvy and flexible.  Several recommended needing and keeping a sense of humor.  Not one shared a story that they had planned on being a registrar someday, yet almost all find the position and work rewarding.  Many advocate seeking a mentor and also being a mentor.  Key findings include:
    • Just 8% of registrars are part of the institution’s executive leadership team.  
    • Most report to the division of academic affairs.
    • Nearly three-quarters (72%) report that “My entire career experience has been in higher education.”
    • Sixty percent of current registrars came from another registrar position or a position in a registrar’s office.
    • Registrars appear to be almost equally mobile between institutional types.
    • Based on ballpark calculations, there will be more than 2,100 registrar vacancies in the United States within the next three years.  
    • Men are statistically more likely to be employed by comprehensive institutions than women, and this difference may account for some of the $10,294 (on average) gender differences in salary.

    Understanding Excess Credits at Graduation Project

    Emma and I are excited about the very preliminary glance at the student survey data for this project.  Emma also has the large, multi-year graduate data set and is beginning to examine how best to determine if differences exist in the number of excess undergraduate credits earned by graduation between direct-entry students and transfer students.

    General Data Projection Regulation (GDPR) Special Topic Survey

    We will examine institutional awareness of and preparedness for GDPR with the results of the currently deployed special topics survey on GDPR.

    May 60-Second Survey – Official Transcript Costs, Types and Volume

    This topic rose to the top of the list for a couple of reasons.  First, I have not collected anything on transcript costs since the 2014 electronic transcript study.  Second, I have received a few inquiries in the last few weeks on this very topic.  

    Call for Research Grant Applications

    The 2018-2019 Research Grant application is available now

    Seeking a New Member of Our Team - Research Advisory Board 

    We will have an opening on our research advisory board starting October 1st.  If you are interested in joining us to help support the AACRAO research agenda, please review the details of the level of expected service, and let me know you are interested by submitting the information listed on the webpage above to me. 

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    Community College Students Use of Institutional Resources

    The Community College Research Center (CCRC) released a working paper discussing differences in student use of institutional resources in selecting their program of study.  One of the underlying assumptions regarding guided pathways is that it provides a clear map for students to follow.  The working paper finds that the information provided in guided pathways is not as clear to students as colleges assume it is.  Further complicating the degree planning and selection process, students have different levels of tolerance for ambiguity and, therefore, require different levels of institutional resources.  Students with high tolerance for ambiguity make use of a range of institutional resources to inform their decisions.  Those with less tolerance for ambiguity rely specifically on advisors to make decisions about their programs of study.  The working paper recommends that “active advising models aimed at identifying and facilitating progress in the academic pathway best suited to each student’s individual needs and goals” be utilized for all students.

    Enrollment Advisory Board (EAB) College Freshman Survey

    The EAB surveyed nearly 5,000 freshmen from 900+ colleges and universities.  From this sample, they concluded that prospective students are most interested in looking at majors and minors on the college website, followed by cost and scholarship information (figure from EAB below).    

    Source: https://www.eab.com/blogs/enrollment/2018/03/new-survey-academic-offerings-is-top-search-query

    Lectures Still Dominate STEM Education

    A study on STEM education conducted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and published in Science (UNL news release) has found that 55 percent of STEM classroom interactions are still conventional lectures.  The study examined nearly 550 faculty across 700 courses at 25 institutions across the United States and Canada.  Given the scope and scale of the study, the author characterized it as a “reliable snapshot” of undergraduate STEM education in the United States and Canada.

    Location and College Access

    An analysis piece in PBS News Hour’s Making Sen$e examined college access based on geographic location.  The piece discusses the decline in geographic mobility, particularly among young individuals and the increasing percentage of students who attend college close to home.  The implications of these trends are that college access is becoming at least partially dependent on how close a college is to a student’s home.  The author suggests that these can be minimized by subsidizing the cost of attendance for those who do not have a college close by.  An additional suggestion is that new colleges or college branch campuses be built in underserved areas.

    WICHE Examines IPEDS Outcomes Measures vs Graduation Rates

    The April 2018 edition of WICHE Insights examines the first round of IPEDS data on Outcome Measures (OM), discusses the differences between OM and the Graduation Rate (GR) data, and reports on the results for the WICHE region.  In the past, GR was the key measure of outcomes included in the IPEDS data.  GR is based on the graduation rate of first-time, full-time students.  OM is a more comprehensive measure looking at graduation and transfer as well as disaggregating the data to include four student groupings:
    • First-time, full-time
    • First-time, part-time
    • Non-first-time, full-time
    • Non-first-time, part-time
    In the WICHE region, these three new categories comprise about 60 percent of the 2008 undergraduate cohort.  The OM data provide additional insights, particularly for two-year institutions.  The next round of data (2009-2010 cohort) will include additional data elements, allowing for further disaggregation and insight into postsecondary student progress.

    Removing Barriers to Transfer

    EducationDive recently reported on a study conducted by Barns & Noble, several community colleges, and a four-year public institution focused on understanding the challenges faced by transfer students.  Students unable to transfer fell into three categories:
    • Non-starters
    • Those who began and got lost in the application process
    • Those who submit applications and then change their minds

    Three common themes emerged identifying deterrents to transfer.  They were:
    • The complexity and length of the transfer process.
    • Limited access to advisors at the initial institution.
    • No access to advisors at transfer institution until the student formally applies.

    Postsecondary Coursework and Consumer Perceptions of Value in Higher Education

    A new report derived from the ongoing Strata-Gallup Education Consumer Survey indicates that “consumers who find their coursework to be relevant in their work and day-to-day living report far better outcomes on quality, cost and their overall sense of well-being.”  A free convening will be held in DC on May 3rd to discuss the results of the research in more depth.
  • AACRAO Eye on Research March 2018

    by Wendy Kilgore | Mar 27, 2018


    Planning for the Demographics Shift

    Our opening keynote speaker here at the AACRAO annual conference, Francisco Marmolejo, spoke about the global economic and demographic shifts that will impact higher education in the United States and abroad in the next 20 plus years.   In his talk he suggested that everyone in the audience take a look at the 2018 World Development Report by the World Bank.  This year’s report is the first to be entirely on the topic of education.  Since his session, I have bumped into several attendees for whom this session, and others since, has sparked further thought on the topic of these global changes.  Specifically, the discussion about how their institution is or is not addressing how these changes will impact them through their strategic enrollment management (SEM) planning.  Our profession is unlike most others in that we can, to some extent, see who our next customers will be by examining the traditional college student pipeline – the number and composition of secondary graduates in the geographic areas in which we serve.  However, as we already know, this particular population represents a shrinking pond for many institutions in the United States.  Some pondered how SEM leaders can begin to think strategically toward 15-20 years or more for their institution when there is such a pressure to address the very near future needs (e.g., next fall’s class size).  I’d love to hear from anyone who has experience in how institutions are starting to address these much longer-term issues.

    AACRAO Research Update

    Invitation for Research Grants

    Our first research grant awardee, Rebecca Mathern, is presenting her results on the role of the registrar in curriculum management this week at the annual conference.  Applications for the 2018-2019 research grant will be accepted starting on May 1st. 

    Invitation for a New Research Advisory Board Member

    Starting October 1st, we will have an opening on our research advisory board.  If you are interested in joining us to help support the AACRAO research agenda, please review the details of the level of expected service, and let me know you are interested by submitting the information listed on the webpage above.

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    Ecosystem Mapping of Entrepreneurial Assets

    In an opinion piece in Education Dive, the authors discuss how ecosystem mapping of entrepreneurial assets can impact communities and the community college’s role in the process.  According to the article, the basic idea behind ecosystem mapping of entrepreneurial assets is for an institution to collect information about the characteristics of a community that help entrepreneurs.  This may include the strengths and skills of the local workforce, local businesses and institutions, and other resources for entrepreneurs.  The article was framed around the work performed by 11 Appalachian community colleges in conjunction with the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) and the inspiration the project inspired with the California Community College Maker Initiative.

    Technology in Higher Education

    Ithika S +R recently released a paper, informed by their Bowen Colloquium’s discussions on technology in higher education.  Three key environmental factors framed the discussion.  First, that technology is changing the way we work and learn.  Second, there is a lot of experimentation occurring with technology in higher education.  Lastly, significant changes are occurring in the higher education market.  For the foreseeable future, there will be reductions in the numbers of traditional students, while the market for adults who need to finish a degree, get an advanced degree, or retrain is large and growing.

    The current state is promising.  Effective educational programs with significant economies have been developed and deployed at the master’s level.  Significant progress has been made with credentialing and micromaster’s programs.  Despite these advances, there is great uncertainty about how and when on-campus education will evolve particularly given the need to focus on increased access, student success, and costs.  More research is needed on improving student outcomes while meeting faculty needs.   Further complicating the process, the potential for impact is highly dependent on external third parties.

    Next steps for institutional leaders:
    1. Foster dialogue and engage faculty leasers on campus in active experimentation with new learning technologies.
    2. Assess the prospects for providing education to constituents beyond the traditional campus community
    3. Collect and assess data on student performance and educational outcomes.
    4. Study and implement best practices.

    Summarizing, the authors believe technology should lead to the possibility of greater attainment at lower costs per student.  They warn, however, the focus should remain on improving educational outcomes for more students, never toward cost savings for their own sake.

    10-Key Shifts in Higher Education

    The Chronicle of Higher Education released its fourth annual Trends Report.  The 10 key shifts they identified are:
    • American Campus, Under Siege
    • Students in Charge
    • Loss of Global Prestige
    • Peer Review in Flux
    • Era of Deregulation
    • Student Success Up Front
    • Spotlight on Hazing
    • Rebranding the Ph.D.
    • Data Scientists in Demand
    • Black-College Renaissance

    Master’s as the New Bachelor’s 

    The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) completed an analysis of data from three states, Colorado, Florida and Texas, to gain a better understanding of the payoff associated with master’s degrees.  The author’s drew the following conclusions:
    • The program of study impacts the level of payoff
    • State economics also impact the level of payoff
    • Lowest paying fields tend to have fewer graduates
    • Federal level data sets are inadequate for supporting the full picture of master’s level payoff, and;
    • This lack of data has implications on rising student debt because students do not have enough information to make well-informed comparisons between the cost of the education and the expected wages.

    Low-Cost Programs to Improve College Access and Persistence

    The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) reviewed five randomized interventions for improving college access and persistence and one of the influence of social norms on academic decisions. The bulletin linked above includes details on each program such as the length of the intervention studied, the target audience and the cost per student.  The figure below from the bulletin summarizes their conclusions about these interventions.

    Source: Figure 2 https://www.povertyactionlab.org/sites/default/files/publications/simplifying-barriers-along-bridge-college.pdf

    50-State Comparison of Academic Credit for Military Experience

    A new report by the Education Commission of States (ECS) highlights the 29 states plus the District of Columbia which have a policy to award academic credit for military experience.  Similar to other ECS reports, this one includes individual state profile pages. 

    A State-Level View of Completion 

    The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center recently completed a signature report which examines 6-year completion rates of over 2 million students from the 2011 cohort. The author’s attempted to exclude data from high school students who were dual enrolled for fall 2011 by excluding all students who were 17 years old or younger during the fall 2011 semester.  Their findings include:
    • More women completed college than men
    • About half of adult learners at four-year public institutions graduate within 6 years
    • The completion rate was highest for four-year, private nonprofit institutions (76%) 
    • Eight states had at least three in four students complete a degree within six years. 
    • Twenty four states were found to have higher than the national average

    Degree and Nondegree Credentials Among the U.S. Labor Force

    The U.S. Department of Education posted a new Data Point based on the Adult Training and Education Survey (ATES).   The ATES:2016 added information on adults who have nondegree credentials, specifically “subbaccalaureate educational certificates and the two work credentials of certifications and licenses (e.g., Cisco Certified Network Associate [CCNA], cosmetology license, medical license).” For the purposes of this Data Point and the ATES survey “certifications and licenses document that the credential holder has the skills and knowledge needed to perform a specific job” and “licenses are issued by government agencies, while certifications are issued by credentialing bodies, often a professional or trade association.”  This data showed that at the time: 
    • 45% of the labor force help a postsecondary degree at this time
    • 31% of labor force participants had a nondegree credentials
      • 13% of those did not have a postsecondary degree and this is their only work credential
      • 18% had a postsecondary degree and a nondegree credential
    • Among the nondegree holders the most common nondegree held was a license – held by more than half of the adults 
      • An additional 43% held a postsecondary certificate and 21% held a certification

  • AACRAO Eye on Research February 2018

    by Wendy Kilgore | Feb 23, 2018


    Artificial Intelligence and College Enrollment Decisions

    Just the American Educational Research Association (AERA) article title “How an Artificially Intelligent Virtual Assistant Helps Students Navigate the Road to College” made me think “Fascinating!” and then about Skynet, the Matrix, and Ava (Ex Machina) all at once. I had to read the whole thing. Georgia State University used conversational artificial intelligence (AI) to support prospective college students through personalized text messages. The researchers used a field experiment to determine if students who were engaged with this AI were more successful in completing the pre-college tasks and enrolling on time than those who were not engaged with the AI. Overall, they found that those students who had committed to GSU and were engaged with the AI were 3.3% more likely to enroll in GSU in the fall than those who were not exposed to the AI.  If this were applied to the entire cohort of about 3,500, about 116 more students would matriculate. This intervention also had a larger positive impact on first-generation students’ ability to navigate the financial aid process. 

    The built-in Q&A set started at 250, and by the end of the intervention it was more than 1,000 based on the AI learning from the engagements with the students.  Most of the students in the treatment group did not opt out of the engagement with the “Pounce” AI, and 85% of those who opted in responded to Pounce at least once. Just 13.5% of the messages received from the students could not be handled by Pounce automatically and were routed to staff, which in the end averaged less than one message per student in the treatment group.  I believe this is just the tip of the iceberg for the use of such systems to help with the college enrollment process, and it fascinates me to no end.  Will this technology ultimately mean institutions will need fewer staff to engage with prospects directly or will those engagements become more personal because staff won’t have to address FAQs?

    AACRAO Research Update

    March 60-Second Survey Topic

    The March 60-Second survey results will provide insights into pre-college programs that we have defined as follows for the purpose of the survey: “University sponsored/organized programs and activities for K-12 school participants typically not yet enrolled in college as degree-seeking students.” The survey will be deployed on March 5 and close at the end of the week.

    Emma Crabtree M.A.  – Research Intern
    We are pleased to introduce Emma Crabtree.  Emma joins us as our research intern to help with the project on credit loss comparing direct entry students to transfer students at a large university.  This is a three part project entailing data analysis, a soon-to-graduate student survey, and student focus groups.  We aim to expand on the current understanding of the reasons why students have excess credits at graduation by examining student engagement behaviors.   

    Emma is a Doctoral Candidate in the Community Psychology program at Wichita State University. She is passionate about research related access to education and academic success for college students. She is excited to do research with such a large data set and hopes to learn more about the relationship between internal policies and graduation. After finishing her dissertation in a year, she hopes to consult on data reporting and program evaluation. Her goal is to work in the Grants office at the Wichita Children's Home, an organization providing emergency, temporary, residential care for children in the Wichita community.

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    Geography, Internet Speed and Access to Higher Education

    The Urban Institute used data from IPEDS, the Federal Communications Commission, the American Community Survey, and the U.S. Census to examine “education deserts” - those areas where students do not have access to higher education. The authors identified three types of education deserts--physical education desert only, online education desert only, and both physical and online—and identified the percentage of people living in each ( see figure below).  Eighty-two percent of people living in education deserts live in rural areas, and those from rural areas are likely to be older, from lower median family incomes, and have lower educational attainment.

    New Stats in Brief Report on First Generation College Students

    Authors from the NCES examined data from the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002, the 2004-2009 Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study, and the 2008/12 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study to address the following three questions:

    • “How do high school students whose parents did not enroll in college fare in high school compared with their peers whose parents attended at least some college? At what rates do these groups transition to college and in what types of institutions do they enroll?
    • Compared with students whose parents attended at least some college, how do first-generation students fare after enrolling in postsecondary education? At what rates do they attain degrees or certificates or remain enrolled?
    • Among bachelor’s degree recipients, how do first-generation students fare compared with their continuing generation peers in the labor market or further postsecondary enrollment?”

    A few of the key findings are included in the figure below.

    Student Loan Default Crisis Worse Than Expected

    Brookings analyzed data on student debt and repayment, which includes previously unavailable details on student debt and default, from first college entrance to 20 years later.  Based on the 1996 entry cohort, cumulative default rates continue to rise between 12 and 20 years after entry and, based on this data, up to 40 percent may default by 2023.  The data show that for-profit borrowers default at twice the rate of public two-year borrowers; defaults are highest among those who borrow less; and black students who earn a BA have a default rate of 21% compared to white BA graduates at 4%. The author concludes that these data point to a need for efforts to “regulate the for-profit sector, to improve degree attainment and promote income-contingent loan repayment options for all students, and to more fully address the particular challenges faced by college students of color.”

    CCRC Uses Data Mining to Understand Transfer Students Excess Credits at Graduation

    The Community College Research Center recently announced a working paper on the cause of excess credits at graduation among transfer students compared to direct-entry students.  They used transcript data from two state systems to look at course-taking behavior to help shed light on the issue.  They conclude that those students--transfer or direct-entry--who take 100- and 200-level courses in a way that subsequently lets them take mostly 300- and 400-level courses after 60 earned semester credit hours graduate with fewer excess credits on average. 

    First Look Report Fall 2009 Ninth-Graders in 2016

    NCES released a First Look report based on the 2015-16 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study on how students and families pay for postsecondary education at Title IV eligible institutions. Among their conclusions, the authors found:
    • Nearly two-thirds of undergraduates receive some type of financial aid, and of those, 69% receive grants, and 38% receive loans.
      • The average amount of aid received was $12,300
      • The average Pell grant was $3,700
    • The same percentage of graduate students as undergraduate students received some type of financial aid. 
      • Among those, 8% received assistantships, 40% grants, and 44% loans.
      • The average amount of aid received was $22,000
      • The average assistantship was $13,400

    Independent Students Now the Majority of College Students in U.S.

    The Institute for Women’s Policy Research created a snapshot of the new majority college student, the independent student.  A few of their key findings which compare independent students to dependent students are paraphrase here:
    • More than a decade older on average
    • More women than men
    • More likely to be students of color 
    • More than half are parents of children younger than 18 and of those almost two-thirds are mothers 
    • Have a substantial unmet financial need 
    • More likely to work at least half time
    • 44% are part-time compared to 19%
    • Just 33% graduate within 6-years compared to 56% of dependent students
    • Significantly more likely to attend for-profit colleges (see figure from snapshot below)

    From this analysis, they made several recommendations for colleges, federal data systems, financial aid eligibility and employers.  Including training college personnel to understand the circumstances of independent students, encouraging employers to create more fixed schedules to allow for class time and dependent care in advance, and revising financial aid eligibility.

    An Introduction to Development Education for Policymakers

    The Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness in the Education Commission of the States collaborated on an introduction on the importance of developmental education, the challenges and how policy makers can help.   Challenges include the fact that placement tests are inaccurate placing too many students in developmental education courses and students do not make it through the sequence.  In addition, the 6-year rate for earning a credential among these students are not good (figure from their paper below).

    Among the recommendations are the following:
    • Improve the accuracy of assessment testing
    • Provide structured course pathways
    • Consider wraparound supports

    WICHE Regional Fact Book Updates

    WICHE releases updated Regional Fact Book tables and added a new table on state-by-state workforce projections. 

    Higher Education State Policy Issues for 2018

    The American Association of State Colleges and Universities released its policy issues report for 2018.

    How Students Use Federal, State and Institutional Aid

    The Education Commission of the States created a primer for policymakers on how students use aid from multiple sources to pay for college.

    Upcoming NISOD Webinars

    The National Institute for Staff and Organization Development (NISOD) is offering a set of webinars on student engagement and retention over the next few months.  These webinars are free for members and $25 for non-members.
  • AACRAO Eye on Research January 2018

    by Wendy Kilgore | Jan 29, 2018


    Swirlers, Dualists, Reversers and Traditionals

    The how, who, what and why of transfer credit practices are making an increasing mark in the higher education arena. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, nearly 10 percent of college students attended more than one institution within the 2014-15 academic year , and 37 percent transferred to another institution within a six-year period . Ten percent of high school students took a dual enrollment class during the 2010-11 academic year . Given this data, it has been many years since we have understood transfer students to be predominantly those who move from a two-year institution to a four-year institution. We now have swirlers, dual enrollment, concurrent enrollment and reverse transfer as well as the “traditional” transfer student. Each of these sub-populations of students brings with them the need for idiosyncratic differences in practice, from transfer credit evaluation to advising, pre-college assessment and intra-institutional agreements on articulation and data sharing. No single lens addresses the needs of all of the transfer student populations. Institutions should draw on expertise from several professional and academic research resources and use these in conjunction with their own institutional culture and student demographics to determine best transfer practices for their institution.

    AACRAO provides best-practice recommendations for transfer students as well as comparative data on institutional practice. We are also embarking on a research project this spring that will help two transfer partner institutions identify how and why some transfer students end up with excess credits at graduation from the four-year institution and compare the amount and type of excess credits with direct-entry students to assess whether or not being a transfer student increases the likelihood of excess credits at graduation.

    AACRAO Research Update

    Registrar Career Profile Survey

    The second registrar career profile survey will be distributed at the end of this month to members identified as registrar through their title in the AACRAO membership database.

    January 60-Second Survey Results

    Institutional accreditation is an important factor for U.S. institutions in determining whether credit or degrees from another institution will be accepted. However, accreditation as we understand it, does not often exist outside of the United States. This month's 60-Second Survey, in partnership with AICE, examined institutional policies pertaining to accreditation status and the acceptance of credit and degrees from foreign institutions. Key findings include:

    • Nine out of 10 institutions have a prescribed policy on regional accreditation requirements for admission and transfer of credit purposes.
    • More than 70% accept a foreign institution’s recognition by a national ministry of education to be equivalent to regional academic accreditation in the United States.
    • Less than half accept recognition by a national government board or body overseeing training or employment to be equivalent to regional academic accreditation.
    • Only 30% recognize a national government board or body overseeing specific professional sectors (Health/Agriculture/Defense/etc.) as equivalent to regional academic accreditation.
    • Less than 20% recognize either a non-governmental organization or a governmental board of a foreign government outside of the institution’s geographic area as equivalent to regional academic accreditation.
    • The admissions office (54%) is most likely to be responsible for determining whether students' foreign education comes from an accredited school, followed closely by the registrar’s office (50%).
    • The registrar’s office (68%) is most often responsible for determining if transfer credits from a students' foreign education come from an accredited school.
    • More than half of responding institutions have exceptions to regional accreditation requirements for admission or transfer of credit.

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    NILOA Completes Nationwide Survey on Assessment

    More than 800 U.S. provosts responded to The National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) survey on assessment. The authors drew 10 major findings from the survey and outline implications for policy and practice. Three of the major findings are:

    • Most institutions have undergraduate statements of learning.
    • Assessment is driven by compliance and improvement with an emphasis on equity.
    • Assessment results are used for compliance and improvement purposes.
    • Size and selectivity influence the variety of assessments used. That is, the larger and more selective the institution is, the less likely they are to employ various assessments or use the results.

    Please see the linked report for the full content.

    32,000+ Student Opinions on Workforce Preparedness

    Gallup and the Strata Education Network partnered to randomly survey over 32,000 students at 43 four-year institutions about their level of confidence to succeed in the workplace, how their major plays into this assessment, and how students use institutional career and academic exploration resources. The authors found:
    • About one-third believe they will graduate with the requisite skills and knowledge to be successful in the job market.
    • Students over the age of 24 reported being more prepared than younger students.
    • Underrepresented and underserved students report more satisfaction with the help they receive from career services, and advising is also most helpful to these populations.
    • Choice of major plays a role in the students’ assessment of their likelihood of success (Figure 2)

    Figure 2 Source: Gallup and Strada Education Network pg. 7

    Inside Higher Ed Releases Report on the Survey of College and University Chief Academic Officers

    More than 500 provosts or chief academic officers responded to this survey. Inside Higher Ed will offer a free webinar on February 22nd at 2 p.m. Eastern. 

    GAO Report on U.S. Accreditation System

    The just released report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the U.S. higher education accreditation system takes a look at the strengths and challenges of the system as well as opportunities for improvement. Among the strengths were that the existing structure allows for tailoring reviews to specific institutional types and the use of peer reviews.

    The report suggests the following as means to improve system oversight:

    • “Modifying oversight roles and responsibilities
    • Strengthening communication and transparency
    • Using academic quality measure and expanding accreditation options
    • Changing the structure of the accreditation system”

    Who Influences High School Students’ Education and Career Choices?

    The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) used data from the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 to analyze who influences public high school students’ choice of education and major. The first research question asked “Who has the most influence on students’ thinking about education after high school?” Not surprisingly they found that family members were the most reported followed by “myself” (Figure 1).

    Figure 1

    Study Finds Social Science and Humanities Doctorates More Satisfied with Work Outside Academia

    Cornell researchers Main, Prenotvitz and Ehrenberg studied the career pathways of humanities and humanistic social science doctorates. They examined data from the Andrew G. Mellon Foundation’s Graduate Education Survey (GES). Conclusions include:
    • PhDs are able to move between other employment sectors and academia.
    • Those employed in non-profit/non-academic and non-tenure track faculty are more likely to obtain tenure track faculty than those initially employed in for-profit sectors.
    • Whether or not a woman had young dependents did not influence the likelihood of her holding a tenured position when measured at least 8 years after she earned her Ph.D.
    • Those employed in the non-profit sector report a higher level of satisfaction than those in tenure-track faculty positions.

    New Book: Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education

    Johns Hopkins University press released a new book where the author created a “Higher Education Demand Index” to estimate college-going demand by institutional sectors. I have not read the report but thought it would be useful for many.

    First Look Report Examines Cost of Attendance, Degrees and Other Awards Conferred

    NCES released another report based on provisional 2016-17 IPEDS data. Among the findings are:
    • In 2016-17, there were 6,760 Title IV institutions in the United States
    • About 3.3 million students earned degrees or certificates at four-year Title IV degree-granting institutions.
    • Average tuition and required fees increased.
    • Total enrollment was about 27 million students.

    Perceived Financial Barriers Loom Large in Adults Considering Returning to School

    Champlain College Online completed an “Adult Viewpoints Survey,” and Business Wire created the infographic below summarizing the viewpoints from the report.

  • AACRAO Eye on Research December 2017

    by Wendy Kilgore | Dec 20, 2017


    A wise Jedi Master once said, “The greatest teacher, failure is.” (Yoda, Star Wars the Last Jedi)

    I ran across an Education Dive article by Pat Donachie about “The Success of Failure” panelist discussion at Teachers College, Columbia.  It peaked my interest because I believe, like the panelists, that learning how to fail and from that failure what not to do, ultimately helps people be more successful later on.  Panelists introduced research where they shared stories of struggle from successful scientists to high school students in the hope that by doing so create a connection where students relate to the failures of these figures.  Students who heard the stories did “significantly better” in the course than those who did not.  Another panelist noted that “failure helps individuals better understand their strengths and passions.”  Further, the panelists did not advocate for failure across the board but rather in moments with “relatively low stakes” as a means to help students in the long term.

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    New American Council on Education (ACE) Report on Adult Learners

    ACE released a report entitled “The Post-Traditional Learners Manifesto Revisited: Aligning Postsecondary Education with Real Life for Adult Student Success.”  The authors used data from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study 2011-2012 to characterize post-traditional learners.  A post-traditional learner is defined by ACE as having the following characteristics:

    •“Age 25 or above
    •Are needed wage earners for themselves or their families
    •Are military connected
    •May have dependents
    •Work full time”

    The authors make recommendations for how best to serve this population through an improved use of data, an alignment of financial aid policies and unemployment insurance policies, and embracing the different ways post-traditional learners acquire knowledge and consume education.

    50-State Comparison: Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Policies

    The Education Commission of the States released a comprehensive summary of PLA policies. The resource is a means to compare policies across all 50 states or to examine a particular state’s practice in detail.  The author found that:

    •“Twenty-four states have PLA policies.
    •Nine states provide guidance regarding PLA-related costs and fees charged to students.
    •Eleven states address limits on the number of credits that may be awarded for prior learning.”

    Student Who Change Their Major Within 3 Years of Enrollment

    NCES released a Data Point which examined first-time postsecondary student data from the 2012/14 Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study.  The data shows that 30 percent of students pursuing either an associate or bachelor’s degree changed their major at least once in the first three years of enrollment. The figure below from the report provides further detail.

    Relationship Between Family Income and College Attendance

    Researchers from the Equality of Opportunity Project completed research on over 30 million college students from 1999-2013.  They examined intergenerational income mobility at U.S. colleges.  Findings include:

    •Children from the top 1% of income earners are 77 percent more likely to attend an ivy league than those in the lowest quintile.
    •Earning outcomes are conditional on the college they attend.
    •Upward mobility differs “substantially across colleges because low-income access varies significantly across colleges with similar earning outcomes.” 

    Student Communication Preferences

    The Enrollment Advisory Board (EAB) surveyed over 5,500 current college-bound high school students on their communication preferences.  From this data, EAB draws several conclusions including:

    •Underrepresented students rely more on social media channels to learn about colleges than other populations.
    •Email and regular mail are still preferred methods of communication for some aspects of the college selection process.
    •Nearly two-thirds indicated that a personal letter influenced their college choice.

    The two figures below come directly from their report and provide further insight into the communication preferences of prospective students.

    Source: EAB Student Communication in the Evolving Digital Era

    Report on Transfer Student Success

    A recent study from the Community College Research Center (CCRC) examined the rate in which transfer students earn bachelor’s degrees and the number of accumulated excess credits.  The researchers examined data from Macomb Community College and the University Partners Advisory Council.  They found two possible causes of excess credits among transfer students, change of field of study and participation in dual enrollment.

    NILOA Tuning Impact Study

    “Tuning is a bottom-up, faculty-led process which leads to the creation of a discipline-specific learning outcome document along with a degree profile that is used to communicate the value of a particular degree to a variety of audiences.”

    The National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment’s (NILOA) produced a report based on outcomes from 2009-2016 Tuning efforts.  Tuning project participants had these opinions about the undertaking:

    •72% felt the project was worthwhile
    •83% indicated that a wide-array of stakeholder opinions is important when defining what a discipline specific degree means
    •67% felt that the process can be used to “increase engagement with students, recent graduates, and employers”
    •64% of faculty felt the process provided faculty with an appropriate level of control over defining learning outcomes.

    New Signature Report on College Completion from the National Student Clearinghouse

    This report examines the six-year completion for those students who started postsecondary education in fall 2011. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I have included a figure directly from the report below.  For more details, please see the full report.

    CCRC Releases Several New White Papers and Publications

    Stackable Credentials: Do They Have Labor Market Value?

    Reforming the American Community College: Promising Changes and Their Challenges

    How to Measure Community College Effectiveness in Serving Transfer Students

    Tackling Transfer: A Guide to Convening Community Colleges and Universities to Improve Transfer Student Outcomes

    How States Are Implementing Transition Curricula: Results from a National Scan

    Can High School Transition Courses Help Students Avoid College Remediation? Estimating the Impact of a Transition Program in a Large Urban District

    How Effective Are Community College Remedial Math Courses for Students With the Lowest Math Skills?

    Guided Pathways at Community Colleges: From Theory to Practice

  • AACRAO Eye on Research November 2017

    by Wendy Kilgore | Nov 30, 2017

    AACRAO’S First Research Grant Award Winner

    Rebecca Mathern is the inaugural year recipient of the AACRAO Research Grant.  The grant consists of a $2,000 stipend to be used towards the completion of an advanced degree.

    Rebecca serves as University Registrar at Oregon State University and is a Ph.D. student in the Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University. Her research is focused on shared governance and the role that upper-level, non-executive managers play in this process. For her dissertation, she is focusing on curriculum management and logistics and the role of the registrar. She will present her research at the 2018 annual conference.

    The 2018-2019 research grant application process will start in May of 2018.  Details about the application and selection process are available at the website linked above.  We were fortunate to have a couple of excellent applications this inaugural year.  Our research advisory board evaluated the applications based on the criteria set forth on the web page.  We hope that the 2018-2019 grant application cycle will draw even more interest from our members.


    AACRAO Research Updates

    The November 60-Second Survey on data use, quality and access revealed the following key points. 
    • Two-thirds of the institutions with more than one person completing the survey submitted responses that differed from each other – that is, the respondents have different opinions and experiences with their institution’s data quality and use. 
    • Opinions about data use and quality varied by position title. 
    • In the aggregate, benchmarking data, external student outcome data and student engagement data are used by more than half. 
    • Respondents representing different position types have different opinions about the type of data used by the institution. These differences could be a reflection on how the question was worded.  We asked about data use in the business unit and separate units in the institution may use discrete sets of data. 
    • Almost two-thirds rate their data as “Excellent” or “Good”
    • Less than one quarter indicate that data is “Difficult to access” or “Very difficult to access”
    • Most are of the opinion that data created in one unit are available to other units and vice-versa.
    • Data use is reported as “Widespread” or “Very widespread” for one-third, yet nearly nine-in-ten see the need for data use to be “Very widespread” or “Widespread” at their institution.
    • Most senior executives are viewed as either “Supportive” or “Very supportive” of the use of data to inform decision making.
    • Data use for informed decision making is viewed as effective by most.
    • The following response choices were selected by more than half of respondents as ways to improve the effective use of data in the future:
      • Ensure that data are timely, accurate, relevant, and accessible.
      • Provide education, training and resources to support the widespread use of data.
      • Connect data from different functions (e.g., student, personnel, financial, and facilities records).

    We are working in conjunction with AICE on developing the January 60-Second Survey. The topic is the accreditation/recognition of international education. 

    The issue of loss-of-credit at transfer was raised again with the August GAO report entitled “Students Need More Information to Help Reduce Challenges in Transferring College Credits.”  We are working on developing a research project aimed at shedding light on the root cause(s) of loss-of-credit based on institutional data and data from transfer students.  We also hope to compare the loss-of-credit among transfer students to excess credit at graduation for direct entry students.  This project is in its earliest stages.  Please email me (wendyk@aacrao.org) if you have any thoughts about this proposed project.

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    SHEEO Report: Aligning Tuition Policies with Strategies for Affordability

    Inside Higher Education writer Rick Seltzer summarized SHEEO’s new report with his article on November 9th.  In his article he notes that two-thirds of higher education institutions surveyed have no unified affordability strategy.  The report itself examines the methods states use to set tuition, fees and student aid.  Among other topics, the SHEEO survey asked about the components of state policy setting, factors influencing tuition setting and affordability reforms.

    McGraw Hill Education: 2017 Digital Study Trends Survey

    A thousand current college students participated in an online survey about digital learning technology (DLT) behaviors and preferences sponsored by McGraw Hill Education.  The report  based on this data drew the following conclusions:
    • “Online students are the most receptive to digital learning technology (DLT), being more likely to prefer and choose classes that utilize it.
    • Laptops are the most essential electronic devices used in student academic life.
    • Smartphones are not perceived as important studying tools. 
    • In general, students believe that DLT has helped improve their grades.
    • Student satisfaction with the college experience remains high and consistent with previous survey waves.
    • Students have clear communication preferences for interacting with professors and peers.
    • Although DLT succeeds in most areas, it struggles to facilitate increased engagement between students.
    • Media consumption through social media platforms varies significantly by age and gender.
    • YouTube and Netflix are the most popular media consumption platforms.”

    Device Ownership and Usage

    Source: McGraw Hill Education

    Recommendations for Remaining in Compliance with Privacy Laws While Using Texts

    Mongoose, a SMS management platform, recently posted guidance on how to remain compliance with both FERPA and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).  Although non-profit organizations are not legally required to get explicit consent to text, Mongoose recommends obtaining some form of opt-in at the inquiry stage, whether an opt-in box on the application or an inquiry form. They also provided best text use guidance based on six million texts sent by institutions who use their solution.  They found that students want deadline reminders, and updates from admissions and advisors.  They don’t want promotions, social media posts and links to websites

    Predictors of Positive STEM-related Postsecondary Outcomes for Hispanic Students in Texas

    The National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE) in conjunction with the Texas Hispanic STEM Research Alliance completed a large-scale evaluation of the predictors of post-secondary STEM success for Hispanic students in Texas.  The authors concluded, among other findings, that:
    • Math and science courses in high school were strongly correlated with postsecondary STEM success.
    • High school attendance rate was also strongly associated with postsecondary success.
    • Predictors were not unique to Hispanic students.

    Blockchain Technology in Education

    The European Commission’s Joint Research Center (JRC) released a comprehensive study on the possible uses and benefits of blockchain technology in the management of educational credentials and intellectual property.   I had to read up on what blockchain technology is in order to understand this report and I ran across this quote which helped me get my head around the technology. “The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.” (Source: Don & Alex Tapscott, authors Blockchain Revolution (2016)).

    The JRC study concluded that there is room for this technology to transform education and that the use of this technology is in its very early stages of adoption.  The authors further conclude that blockchain technology -
    • Could accelerate the end of paper based education certificates
    • Removes need for institutions to validate credentials
    • May reduce institution’s data management costs
    • Could revolutionize the management of intellectual property
    • Significantly improves efficiency, effectiveness and security of data

  • AACRAO Eye on Research October 2017

    by Wendy Kilgore | Oct 26, 2017


    A good portion of this month has been spent finalizing the college completion initiative report and the just-released chief enrollment management officer profile report. Both topics will be presented at SEM.  The presentation for the chief enrollment profile report is entitled “So you want to be a chief enrollment management officer? Let’s talk” and is aimed at providing participants with an idea for how to gain the skills and experience to assume one of the many anticipated vacancies in the next few years.  The figure below is a back-of-the-envelope calculation of the number of CEMO positions that will become vacant in the next four years; the number highlights the need for succession planning, formal education opportunities and skills development.

    Approximate anticipated number of CEMO positions available in the next four years.

    AACRAO Research Updates

    November 60-Second Survey 

    November’s 60-Second survey is a partnership between the American Council on Education (ACE) and AACRAO.  Colleges and universities have invested in the use of data analytics to improve student outcomes, close attainment gaps, and improve organizational performance. As environmental conditions continue to evolve, the pressure to do so in more cohesive and sophisticated ways will grow. To facilitate the modernization of campus data infrastructures, institutional leaders need a more holistic understanding of the opportunities and challenges in doing so. The survey will be distributed on November 6th.

    AACRAO Completion Initiative Study Sneak Peak

    Attending the 2017 SEM Conference in Phoenix? If so, join us on Monday October 30th at 1:30 as we share the results of AACRAO’s latest study and report: The State of College Completion Initiatives at U.S. Community Colleges. The study included two primary surveys – one of U.S. community colleges and another of current community college students – as well as qualitative interviews with 11 senior community college administrators working on completion initiatives. The report will be released via email to all AACRAO members on the same day as the presentation.  The figure below highlights the retention/completion activities students are required to use at institutions who have more than one active completion initiative.

    Required student success activities of institutions with more than one completion initiative.

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    IPEDS to Publish Completion Data for Part-Time and Non-First-Time Students

    In a move a decade in the making, Inside Higher Ed reports that the U.S. Department of Education has begun publishing data on completion rates for part-time and non-first-time college attendees for all two- and four-year degree- and certificate-granting institutions. These data, among others, are part of a revision of the IPEDS database. The change is welcome, particularly among community college leaders whose institutional completion rates failed to accurately capture segments of their student population. 

    Court Filings Allege Academic Websites Violate ADA for Visually Impaired Students

    Eight lawsuits have been filed in Federal Court in New York in the past weeks against Hofstra University. The lawsuits claim that the university website, which is inaccessible to students with visual impairments and blindness, is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The cases represent a growing push for increased accessibility to virtual spaces for students with disabilities. The New York Times reports that since 2015, at least seven lawsuits regarding academic websites have been filed, with the current round of lawsuits doubling the number of cases involving universities. 

    Federal Reserve Data Point to Large Gap in Net Worth Among HS and College Degree Holders

    In October, the U.S. Federal Reserve published triennial data showing that people with college degrees have a median net worth more than four times that of Americans without a degree. In the three-year data collection period, those with only a high school degree saw a 25% increase in their net worth. According to the report, families throughout the income distribution experienced gains in average real incomes between 2013 and 2016, reversing the trend from 2010 to 2013, when real incomes fell or remained stagnant for all but the top of the income distribution. Households at the top of the income distribution saw larger increases in income between 2013 and 2016 than others, consistent with widening income inequality.

    50-State Comparison of State Financial Aid Policies for Adult Students

    The Education Commission of the States (ECS) completed a new analysis of the state of financial aid programs for adult students. Among other practices and policies, they found:
    • “Most of the largest state financial aid programs don’t account for the unique circumstances adult students bring, which could indirectly shut them out of postsecondary opportunities.”
    • Out of 100 state financial aid programs
      • Almost half are merit-based
      • Nearly a third require full-time enrollment
      • Just shy of fifth exclude two-year institution
      • A quarter tie eligibility to a high school graduation date

    ECS recommends the following criteria in aid programs to help students over the age of 25.
    • “Base awards on financial need.
    • Allow students to enroll part-time
    • Do not link eligibility to the date a student graduates from high school
    • Publish an application deadline statewide after Aug. 1
    • Include two-year public community colleges and technical schools.”

    Data from Several Reports Questions the Value of Certificates 

    An article from the Hechinger Report highlights data from several recent research studies and reports on the value of a certificate as a means to improve income above what is expected for someone with a high school diploma.  The author found that the return on investment for a student pursuing a certificate varies based on the content of the certificate among other factors.  While some data indicates that “certificate holders earn 20 percent more, on average” than those with a high school diploma others points out that the evidence supporting their value “is thin and quality assurance is weak.”  Another report by Third Way reviewed in the article found that at one in five institutions “most former students earned less than the average high school graduate, even six years after enrollment.”

    A CCRC Community College Review Article on Effective Transfer Partnerships

    Authors John Fink and Davis Jenkins completed in depth interviews with 2- and 4-year institutions identified as having strong partnerships.  From these interviews they concluded that the following are characteristics of effective transfer partnerships:

    • Transfer is a priority for both institutions
    • These partnerships create clear pathways for students and align instruction
    • The institutions provide tailored transfer advising

    Brookings Report on the Use of Criminal Records in College Admissions

    The author examined the policy landscape on the use of a question related to prior criminal history in college admissions. Among her conclusions are the following:

    • There is widespread use of questions about criminal history in the admissions process
    • Often more broad than on job applications
    • Disproportionately affects men of color.
    • “The few studies to examine the effects of BTB (ban the box) on college enrollment suggest large negative impacts on those with convictions; however, “application attrition” appears quantitatively more important than explicit rejection.”
    • Few studies on how this practice reduces crimes on campus
    • Considerable research on access to education and a reduction in criminal behavior.
  • AACRAO Eye on Research September 2017

    by Wendy Kilgore | Sep 28, 2017


    In our July 60-Second Survey report we shared data on how and/or if institutions monitor the social media of applicants and/or current students. The topic stemmed from the story about Harvard rescinding offers of admission to several students for their social media posts.  Almost nine in 10 of institutions who responded to a question about monitoring social media for current students reported doing so either formally or when advised of a possible issue.
    Pomona College now faces a situation similar to Harvard’s but on a much larger scale and related to current students. Nearly 20% of the current student population were found to be part of a Facebook group that supported “images and comments so vile that they would be right at home in the comments section of The Daily Stormer” (a neo-Nazi website).  Several questions pop into my mind about this story.  Your thoughts would be welcomed.  How does an institution address potential student code of conduct violations for nearly 20% of their student population?  How prevalent are these types of groups at other institutions, and are institutions now going to have to actively engage in monitoring these activities?  Does overtly monitoring for these activities just push the activities to the dark web or other hidden locations? 

    AACRAO Research Updates

    The Use, or not, of Electronic Transcripts – September 60-Second Survey

    More than 1,000 institutions responded to the e-transcript practice survey.  Some of the key findings are shared here.
    • PDF transcript use is now the most reported format for receiving and sending postsecondary transcripts, a change from 2014
    • Among the small percentage of institutions who report still using paper-only processes for the receipt or sending of transcripts, a “lack of technological resources” is frequently noted as the reason for not using an electronic transcript process.
    • Although the percentage of institutions reporting the use of paper for the receipt of high school transcripts has decreased, paper (90%) is still the most reported format, closely followed by PDF (84%), compared to 98% paper and 58% PDF in 2014.
    • PDF adoption has greatly outpaced the adoption of EDI or XML.
    • Although an increase over 2014 (11%), only 38% of institutions now report using electronic transcript data in any automated processes such as transfer articulation, workflow kick off, admissions assessment and imaging.
    • Institutions are still not taking full advantage of the automated processes that can be implemented with electronic transcripts.

    Chief Enrollment Management Officer Career Profile – Sneak Peek

    The chief enrollment management officer (CEMO) career profile report will be available in a few weeks. Included here are some of the highlights.

    • Of the 943 institutions responding to a supplemental question in the 60-Second survey about the CEMO position, 45% indicated their institution does not have a single position that fits the CEMO definition as provided in the survey.
    • From the CEMO survey data, we have concluded that a CEMO likely
      • is at least 45 years old
      • holds a master’s degree
      • has been in higher education his/her entire career to date
      • has been in their current CEMO position less than five years
      • reports to the chief executive
      • came to their current CEMO position from another position in the same institution
      • leads or participates in nearly every student enrollment related function at their institution
      • has a position title that includes “vice president”

    U.S. Community College Completion Initiatives – Sneak Peek

    The data from the soon-to-be-released AACRAO report A Multi-Perspective Examination of College Completion Initiatives at U.S. Community Colleges highlights the complex nature of completion initiatives as well as the fact that students are generally satisfied with their experience at community college. Some of the key findings are included here.

    Key Points – Institutional Data

    • The data alludes to the existence of at least one college completion initiative at more than half of community colleges in the United States.
    • Most institutions are engaged in more than one initiative simultaneously.
    • Most expect attention to completion initiatives to increase over the next year.
    • Nearly 9 out of 10 multi-initiative institutions rate their initiatives as “extremely effective,” “very effective,” or “moderately effective” compared to about 8 of 10 of single-initiative institutions.

    Key Points – Student Data

    • All of the students agreed their institution has programs and/or services in place to help them reach their educational goal.
    • Most believe their institution has recently increased efforts to improve student success.
    • Advising and guidance counseling top the list of services students report as helping them meet their educational goal.

    Key Points – Stories from the Field

    • The ability to trust the accuracy of institutional data is paramount to buy-in for completion efforts.
    • An institution-wide culture of completion is key to success.
    • Service redesign is a common component of completion initiatives.

    Calls for Assistance

    Volunteers Needed for Graduate Student Research – Last Call
    We are a group of forensic psychology master's students working in the Sex Offender Research Lab (SORL) at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. We are looking for higher education administrators to participate in our research investigating institutional policies and attitudes regarding applicants or students who have been previously convicted of sexual offenses. The survey takes three to four minutes to complete and can be accessed through the following link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZTT8JZ5. Please note that your participation in this study is voluntary and confidential.

    If you have any questions about the study, please contact: Anna Austenfeld (anna.austenfeld@jjay.cuny.edu), Lauren Rubenstein (lauren.rubenstein@jjay.cuny.edu), or Olivia Tabaczyk (omt2107@tc.columbia.edu). The Principal Investigator of this study is Dr. Elizabeth Jeglic from John Jay College of Criminal Justice-CUNY (ejeglic@jjay.cuny.edu).

    Institute of International Education Fall International Enrollment Hot Topics Survey Now Open

    About the survey:

    The partner organizations are: American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), American Council on Education (ACE), Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), College Board, Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), Institute of International Education (IIE), National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), and NAFSA: Association of International Educators. The purpose of this survey is to obtain feedback on current events and trends in the field that may impact your international student enrollments for this academic year (starting in Fall 2017). By sharing this information with the international education community and the media, we hope to develop a wider understanding among the press, the general public, and policy makers at state and national levels, about how higher education institutions continue to be affected by the various factors that impact international enrollments. Please note that for the purpose of this survey, an international student is defined as anyone studying in the United States on a non-immigrant, temporary visa that allows for academic coursework.


    Please answer the questions in the Fall 2017 International Enrollment Hot Topics Survey to the best of your ability. All institutional-level responses will be anonymous, and only aggregated information will be shared. We ask for your contact information only to ensure that no more than one reply is received per institution, and to facilitate follow up if there are any questions.

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics 

    Texas Adopts Guided Pathways for Community College System
    On August 31, 2017, the Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC) announced a partnership to launch a five-year effort to implement guided pathways in each of Texas’ 50 community colleges. According to a press release published by Inside Higher Ed, the Texas Pathways initiative is built on three design principles:

    • Colleges’ program redesigns must pay attention to the entire student experience, rather than to just one segment of it.
    • A guided pathways redesign is a framework that helps unify a variety of reform elements around the central goal of helping students choose, enter, and complete a program of study aligned with their goals for employment and further education.
    • The redesign process starts with student end goals for careers and further education in mind and “backward maps” programs and supports to ensure that students are prepared for employment and education at the next level.

    NCES Report: 80% of 2009 HS Freshman Applied or Registered for College Four Years
    A new NCES report titled College Applications by 2009 High School Freshmen: Differences by Race/Ethnicity was released August 31st. The report uses data from the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:09) 2013 Updated, which gathered information on postsecondary applications by high school freshmen four years later. Some key findings include:
    • 91% of Asian/Pacific Islander students were the largest group of applicants/registrants
    • Only 63% of American Indian/Alaska Native students applied/registered, the lowest among racial/ethnic groups studied.
    • Percentages of students reporting two, three, four, or five or more applications were, in general, substantially lower than the percentage reporting only one application. This was true across most of the racial/ethnic groups; Asian/Pacific Islanders were the exception with 38% reporting five or more postsecondary applications.

    New Survey Results: 2017 Survey of College and University Admissions Directors
    Insider Higher Ed, in conjunction with Gallup, released its 2017 report of College and University Admissions Directors. Findings show that only 34% of responding colleges met their enrollment targets by May 1, 2017. Last year, 37% reported hitting their target while 42% did so two years ago. The number was even lower for less selective public institutions: only 22% of public bachelor's/master's institutions met their targets by May 1st, while 27% of community colleges reported hitting their target. Among private colleges and universities, 36% met admissions goals. For full results, you can download the full report.

    Results from the 2016 National Household Education Survey
    NCES has released a First Look report titled Adult Training and Education: Results from the National Household Education Surveys Program of 2016, which looks at adults’ training and education in the United States. The survey collected results from respondents 16-65 years of age with a focus on the prevalence of non-degree credentials including:

    • Adults with an occupational certification or license, the type of work these credentials are for, adults’ perceptions of the usefulness of these credentials in the labor market, and the role of postsecondary education programs in preparing adults for these credentials.
    • Adults with postsecondary educational certificates, including the subject field of the certificates, adults’ perceptions of the usefulness of certificates in the labor market, and the role of certificate programs in preparing adults for work credentials.

    Select findings include:
    • Healthcare is the most common field in which adults were certified or licensed.
    • 21% of adults reported having an active certification or license.
    • Licenses were more prevalent than certifications: 18% of adults reported having a license, while just 6% reported a certification.

    Rise in the Number of Institutions of Higher Education, Led by For-Profits According to a new NCES report, Change in Number and Types of Postsecondary Institutions: 2000 to 2014, there has been an increase in the number of institutions of higher education from 2000 to 2014, particularly among those that offer subbaccalaureate occupational education. Other findings include:

    • Total institutions increased from 2,445 to 3,360, a 37% increase over 14 years.
    • The number of public and private nonprofit institutions declined from 2,084 to 1,964 and from 1,950 to 1,827, respectively
    • The percentage of all institutions that were for-profit institutions increased from 38% to 47%.

    Three Reports from the Community College Research Center (CCRC)

    Additive and Integrative Approaches to Developmental Reading and Writing Courses

    A working paper by Bickerstaff and Raufman that looks at the experiences and perceptions of faculty members working to integrate developmental reading and writing courses in Virginia and North Carolina with ongoing statewide reform efforts. Using data from focus groups as well as three case studies, the study found two main approaches: additive, which combines assignments and activities from existing standalone classes; and integrative, which kept few aspects of standalone courses in place. To read the paper, From “Additive” to “Integrative”: Experiences of Faculty Teaching Development Integrated Reading and Writing Courses, visit the CCRC website.

    Creating Guided Pathways in Ohio’s Community Colleges

    A new report looks at how Ohio’s 23 community colleges are approaching reform to implement guided pathways. Participants in the study describe their college’s progress in four key areas of guided pathways:

    • Mapping pathways to student end goals
    • Helping students choose and enter a pathway
    • Keeping students on track
    • Ensuring students are learning

    Read the report, Building Blocks: Laying the Groundwork for Guided Pathways Reform in Ohio. High School-College Dual Enrollment CCRC partnered with the National Student Clearinghouse to follow over 200,000 high school students enrolled in dual enrollment starting in fall 2010. The data showed that nearly 9 in 10 of these students continued in college after graduating. The details of college enrollment varied greatly by state and the authors found that there were large disparities in college completion rate by lower and higher income students. AACRAO completed a report from the institutional perspective in 2016.

    Urban Institute Makes Policy Recommendations to Improve Federal Financial Aid The Urban Institute convened a bipartisan group of scholars and policy advisers to write a series of memos regarding critical issues in higher education and make policy recommendations to the new administration. In a series of 10 memos, the Institute’s recommendations for reforming federal student aid includes but is not limited to:
    • Simplifying the eligibility and application process
    • Removing incentives that slow progress toward completion
    • Leveraging low-cost guidance services to help students maximize their awards

    All 10 memos can be access and read on the Urban Institute website.

    Institutional Challenges and Opportunities with Technology and Developmental Education
    The Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness released a paper that looks at how technology is used in developmental education programs, what technology-related challenges institutions have encountered, and what considerations institutional leaders take into account when deciding whether and how to integrate technology in developmental education courses. The authors find that a variety of instructional, course management, and student support technologies have been implemented for developmental education. Institutions have encountered a number of challenges, particularly with regard to end-user difficulties with technology.

    The researchers used semi-structured interviews with key personnel from 31 open-access, two-year public colleges, 11 broad-access, four-year public colleges, and 41 state-level organizations overseeing such institutions.

    EVENT: 2017 Managerial Analysis and Decision Support

    On November 9-10, NACUBO will host a two-day program to support college and university decision makers. According to the event page, college and university experts will present core concepts and techniques needed to tackle resource allocation, financial management, costing, analysis, communication and collaboration. Topics such as revenue forecasting, ratios, costing methodologies, budgeting, performance measurement, capital planning, the operating environment and management reporting are addressed. For more information, visit the NACUBO event page
  • AACRAO Eye on Research August 2017

    by Wendy Kilgore | Aug 30, 2017


    This month, I collected the data for the Chief Enrollment Management Officer career profile report.  This is the second report of its kind; the first was completed in 2014.  One of our main challenges in disseminating this survey is the lack of a clear primary title for this position.  Unlike other executive-level positions (e.g., Chief Development Officer, Chief Academic Officer, Chief Financial/Business Officer, Chief Information Technology Officer, Chief Facilities/Physical Plan Officer, etc.), the higher education directory does not have a manpower code for Chief Enrollment Management Officer.  The best matching descriptor is the “Director of Enrollment Management” who “Plans, develops, and implements strategies to sustain enrollment.  Supervises administration of all admissions and financial aid operations.”  The higher education directory extract included members with wide-ranging titles such as, Coordinator for Enrollment Services, Vice President for Enrollment, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Services, Dean of Enrollment Management, and Assistant Director of Enrollment Services.  

    For the purposes of this survey, our own SEM Advisory Board defined the position as follows:

    The Chief Enrollment Management position is the position responsible for developing and implementing comprehensive strategic enrollment management efforts focused on retention, recruitment, and admissions.  The position often has direct managerial responsibility and oversight for key enrollment units and enrollment services of the institution and is responsible for strategies that focus on retention and completion, recruitment and student success.

    I asked our primary contacts to help identify the appropriate person at their institution based on this definition.  Interestingly, what we learned anecdotally from this email call for assistance is that unlike the Registrar and Chief Admissions Officer position, a fair percentage of institutions do not have a single position that fits the role as defined.  The lack of a single position with these responsibilities does not appear to be limited to institutions of a particular size, type or control.  In order to more accurately understand the prevalence of this position, I have added a supplemental question to the September 60-Second Survey asking whether or not the institution has this position, and I will add that data to the report.  

    AACRAO Research Updates

    The September 60-Second Survey will update our 2014 data on the use of electronic transcript services.  The data from the Chief Enrollment Management Career Profile and the U.S. Community College Completion Initiatives project will be presented at the AACRAO SEM conference in Phoenix this fall.  The grades and grading practices data has been collected, and the draft narrative for the book is under development.  There is a lot of data to compare current practices with the previous surveys. 

    Call for Assistance

    Reminder: Predictive Modelling for Student Retention Survey closes Sept 8.

    The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, Canada (HEQCO) is conducting a survey on the experiences of postsecondary institutions with predictive modelling for student retention. HEQCO is looking to gather information on what types of institutions have implemented predictive modelling for student retention, what groups of students they are targeting, what interventions have been designed and used with predictive modellng, and what effects those interventions have had on student retention. The survey will take respondents approximately 20-25 minutes to complete, depending on answer length, and will be open until Friday, September 8, 2017. The survey can be accessed at https://pm-mp.questionpro.ca.

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    Statewide Longitudinal Systems

    The Education Commission of the States released its policy snapshot on statewide longitudinal data systems (SLDS) and relevant 2016 and 2017 legislation:

    • “37 states plus the District of Columbia (D.C.) connect data between at least two educational systems and only 6 states plus D.C. have a full P20W system.”
    • Several use their systems to measure student success and have introduced legislation based on the data.
    • Although five states proposed legislation related to SLDS in 2016, only one bill was enacted in California.
    • In 2017, 16 states considered SLDS legislation and six have been enacted in Nevada, Virginia, Maryland and South Carolina.

    Four Common Governance Structures

    The Education Commission of the States also released a report providing an overview of the governance structures found during a recent 50-state review.  Four common governance structures were identified:

    • Appointed Board with an Appointed Chief
    • Governor Appointed Board with Board Appointed Chief
    • Appointed Board with Elected Chief
    • Elected Board with Board Appointed Chief

    Twelve states operate under modified versions of the four identified models.

    Recent Paper Provides an Overview and Analysis of the Credentialing Landscape 

    A report commissioned by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, with support from the Carnegie Corporation, examined credentials that serve as an alternative to degrees and those that serve as alternate pathways to degrees.  Common themes included:
    • There has been a proliferation of alternative credentials/pathways over the past 15 years.
    • Credentials and alternate pathways are shorter, more flexible and more employer-focused than traditional degrees
    • Evidence of quality and effectiveness of credentials/pathways is lacking.
    • There appears to be an emerging trend in which institutions of higher education would “take a substantial role in validating varied learning experiences and linking them with academic coursework and degree pathways.”

    Policy recommendations in the paper included:
    • Ensure quality assurance, enforce quality standards, and accelerate integration of quality credentials/pathways into the federal financial aid system.
    • Invest in longitudinal data systems to monitor student experiences and outcomes.
    • Perform further research on the effectiveness and return on investment for alternative credentials/pathways.

    Two Studies Highlight Student Concerns about College Preparedness and College Completion

    A recent article in Education Dive indicates that a pair of recent studies suggest that about half of U.S. high school students (across 21 states) do not feel prepared for college, and about half of the students entering college are concerned that they may not graduate.  Student self-perceptions of preparedness for college varied with race/ethnicity, with Asian, black or African-American and Hispanic or Latino students feeling better prepared than white or multiracial students.  Students indicated the top three reasons that would cause them to leave school: family emergencies (69%), stress (66%) and mental health issues (66%).

    Highlights from a Soon-to-be-Released Report on Protecting Data Privacy and Security

    Education Week reported that the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking recently released highlights from its forthcoming final report.  The commission was tasked to examine ways that data and research could be shared across federal agencies while addressing privacy and security concerns.   While not directly aimed at education, the author suggests that the recommendations are likely to “shape reauthorization of critical and long-overdue education laws governing research data.” Five key principles were identified as being required to govern the future of data use:
    • Access and privacy must be a paramount concern.
    • Questions should be answered with the appropriate level of rigor.
    • “Agencies should avoid overgeneralizing findings and instead focus on building and promoting a broader ‘portfolio of evidence.’”
    • Expertise is required for these data protections and analyses.

    Notifying Students about Learning Analytics

    Blackboard recently released a research brief entitled Student Interest & Patterns in Learning Analytics Notification that discusses student preferences for notifications.  Students opened notifications 37% of the time.  Further, those notifications that compared students to their peers were preferred over notifications regarding trends in the students’ scores over time.  Further, a cluster analysis was performed, and open rates were found to be consistent across all student types.

    Article Suggests Change of Focus in Admissions from Achievement to Overcoming Barriers

    A new article in Inside Higher Ed suggests selective colleges should re-focus their admissions selection process.  It asserts that the traditional measures of achievement (grades, tests scores, extracurricular activities, etc.) do more to measure the resources available to an applicant, rather than the applicant's talent or motivation. The article's author asserts that a "distance travelled" model would be a more useful tool for selective admissions. This model could use an "adversity index" to look at the traditional achievement measures, but be weighted by other factors such as poverty, discrimination, and other challenges faced by the applicant.

    Expanding Access for High-Achieving Low-Income Students

    The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation released a report identifying practices to assist high-achieving, low-income students into selective colleges.  Among the 14 practices enumerated are the following:
    • Clearly identify the true cost of attendance 
    • Reduce application costs
    • Remove practices that disadvantage these students such as requiring the SAT or ACT and preference for children of alumni
    • Expand community college transfer student access
    • Facilitate campus visits
    • Customize messaging to encourage these students to apply 

    Article Provides Resources for Addressing Charlottesville Incidents 

    An article posted on NPR Ed provides some guidance to educators on how to use the incidents of bigotry and racism as a teachable moment. Resources included in the article include: ideas for introducing themes of diversity and tolerance; ways to incorporate historical curriculum that touches on racism today; and curriculum that addresses current events directly.
  • AACRAO Eye on Research July 2017

    by Wendy Kilgore | Jul 27, 2017


    Freelancing as a “surrogate” student

    While reading an online article completely unrelated to work I fell down the web-click rabbit hole and stumbled across something that surprised me.  I landed on one of the many freelance-for-hire websites, fiverr, and found people openly advertising to serve as a “surrogate” student in their online class.  More specifically to take online quizzes and tests and to provide discussion posts.  Some set minimum grade guarantee limits and one was even offering to do this for nursing courses!   I was further astounded by the number of reviewers who openly acknowledge purchasing these services and then rate the service online.  I was vaguely aware that this type of activity occurred on Craigslist but never thought I would run across it on a more formally organized freelance-for-hire site.  It made me wonder how prevalent this service and the cheating is for online courses and how in the world would institutions monitor for this type of activity?  One would need to run all of the discussion posts through some discussion post aggregating site similar to what turnitin does for course papers. I realize there are some technology checks and balances for online test taking to help ensure that measures are in place to minimize this activity but the application of said technology is far from universally applied.  One would hope that the ingenuity and time spent by students seeking out these resources would instead be spent on learning the content for themselves.  The nursing posting in particular disturbed me because of the possible negative consequences for patients if the licensing exam does not have a means to identify the particular gaps in patient care knowledge that likely exist now for the nursing students who are choosing to cheat.

    I’m curious, has anyone else noticed these types of service postings and has it been an item of discussion on your campus?  If you have something you’d like to share on the topic, please email me directly (wendyk@aacrao.org) and I will amend the blog with any comments I receive.  On that note, we hope to have the ability for direct online comments in the next iteration of the AACRAO website.

    Parents Completing College Applications for Many

    Ruffalo Noel-Levitz partnered with NRCCUA, CollegeWeekLive and OmniUpdate to surveyed “thousands of students and parents” through the MyCollegeOptions program about electronic communication/digital marketing preferences and usage.  They posted an infographic with early insight into the data.  The full eExpectations report was released at the National Conference for Student Recruitment, Marketing and Retention on July 27th.  Among the findings - almost two-thirds of parents of seniors indicated they completed the application for admission on behalf of their student!  

    Reading this made my eyebrows go up and for me to think, “How in the world do colleges that rely even partially on student essays for the admissions process deal with this?”  How would you even know if the essay was written by the parent?  This is not some small reported percentage, it’s more than half in this sample.  Again, I’d enjoy hearing back from our experts in the field (aka our members) if and how this is anything you have considered to be an issue and if so how you are trying to address it.


    Invitation to Participate 


    The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (Canada) is conducting a survey on the experiences of postsecondary institutions with predictive modelling for student retention. We are looking to gather information on what types of institutions have implemented predictive modelling for student retention, what groups of students they are targeting, what interventions have been designed and used with predictive modelling, and what effects those interventions have had on student retention. Plaid Consulting has been contracted to administer this survey.

    The survey should be completed by persons who are able to comment on your postsecondary institution’s experience with predictive modelling for student retention. If this is not you, we ask that you please forward this invitation to that person. The survey is open until September 8, 2017 and can be completed here. The survey should take approximately 20-25 minutes of your time to complete, depending on the length of your answers.

    Your participation is voluntary. Neither you nor your institution will be identified in the report and all of the information that you share will remain anonymous for the final report. This means that only researchers at Plaid Consulting and HEQCO will have access to identifying information in connection with survey findings, but that identifying information will be aggregated or anonymized prior to publication. More information on the privacy policy can be found at http://plaid.is/privacy.html. Any feedback that you provide will remain confidential in accordance with Canada’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

    If you have any questions about the survey, please contact Pat Lougheed, Partner & Co-Founder, Plaid Consulting, info@plaid.is or +1-416-212-3881. If you have any questions about the project, please contact Kaitlyn Blair, Researcher at HEQCO, at kblair@heqco.ca or +1-416-212-3881. 

    Thank you in advance for your participation.

    AACRAO Research Updates

    This month’s 60-Second Survey examines the institutional practice of monitoring the social media posts of prospects, and/or applicants and/or admitted students for inappropriate remarks.  This topic came about because of the recent incident at Harvard University the institution revoked the offer of admission for several students who were found to have posted topics that were deemed inappropriate.  Key findings include: 
    • Collectively, almost three-quarters either monitor social media as part of the admissions decision making or will review social media brought to their attention.
    • In the aggregate of those who monitor social media at all, nearly one-quarter monitor both the institution-sponsored social media and the personal social media of applicants. Facebook is the most monitored.
    • Among those who monitor social media, eleven percent (11%) have denied admission based on social media content; seven percent (7%) have rescinded an offer of admission; and half monitor the social media of admitted students.
    • About one-in-ten who monitor social media have a formal policy on how to do so.
    The full report can be accessed here.
    We will distribute the Chief Enrollment Management Career Profile survey in the next couple of weeks.  We identified recipients through an extract from the higher education directory and from our membership based on position titles.  The first of this series was produced in 2014.  If you would like to ensure that your name is on this distribution list, please let me know as soon as possible by emailing me at wendyk@aacrao.org.

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    Attitudes and Perceptions of University Applicants may not match reality

    The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and Unite Students conducted a survey of over 2,000 university applicants in the United Kingdom. Among others, the key findings included: 
    • “60% of university applicants expect to spend more time in lectures than they do in school lessons, yet only 19% of students find this happens.”
    • “Only 37% of applicants with a mental health condition have declared, or intend to declare it, with their prospective university.”
    • “While most applicants (62%) believe they have a good grip on money matters, only 43% are confident about paying a bill and only 41% feel they understand student finances, with many under-estimating essential expenses.”
    • “Almost half (47%) of all applicants feel unprepared for living with people they have never met before, with gay, lesbian, bisexual and other sexuality applicants less confident about making friends (58%) than heterosexual applicants (74%).”
    • The report also discusses pre-arrival communication strategies and other improvements that higher education could use to address these issues.

    Free Digital Financial Literacy Game created for young adults

    The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and the Ad Council have released a game entitled “Yesterday’s Tomorrow” to help young adults to understand the long-term impact of financial decisions on their future finances. The game is part of the “Feed the Pig” campaign, designed to “educate and support young adults ages 25-34 to help them develop better money habits.” 

    Recent Survey Data Outlines Shift in the “Typical” College Student

    An article in eCampus News highlights several recent surveys identifying the changes in the nature of “typical” college students. Data points to changes like an older college population, increases in first generation students, and fewer graduating within six years. The article’s key conclusions are:
    • “The ‘Traditional’ 4-Year Experience is Rare for Most” due to changes in student demographics and level of preparation.
    • “Common Challenges Occur Due to Too Much of Everything” including the rapid pace of technology change, time demands, and information overload.
    • “Online Learning Influences Most Learning” through the growth in its popularity, and new ways educational technology is being used including app-based learning, gamification of learning, and virtual/augmented reality tools.

    New Project to help address “Too Much Data” in decision-making

    A recent article in Campus Technology describes a project at Indiana University (IU) intended to help academic decision makers use data more effectively in decision-making. IU’s Chief Data Architect notes in the article” "If you ask how many people work at the university, well, depending on who you ask and how you ask the question and what time of year you ask the question, you may get different results…” The project addresses this problem by standardizing data, and putting it into visual forms for users. The article also describes how IU adapted business processes to make this project successful.

    New Report on Three-Year study of Consumer Information in Higher Education

    A new report from the Urban Institute examines the effects of enhanced consumer information on student decision-making. The results generally concluded that “simply publishing and marketing earnings data on a website is unlikely to change the behavior of prospective college students.” 

    Language a barrier in marketing free tuition program

    An article in Inside Higher Ed outlines how a two-year public engagement program intended to increase the diversity of the students in a program has found discrepancies in awareness of the program. The Long Beach College Promise program offers a year of free tuition and is intended to help increase access to higher education. Surveys found that while most Long Beach school district parents were aware of the program, that percentage dropped significantly in some minority households. Additionally, the location within the community had a strong effect on awareness of the program.

    Multiple methods of student engagement lead to greater student response

    The 2017 results from the Harvard Enrollment Study have been released and they “reiterate the importance of repetition and variety in successful student search campaigns.” The article’s key conclusions are that the most effective student campaigns do the following:

    • Use multiple channels to enhance campaigns
    • Use multiple list sources
    • Contact students across multiple class years
    • Search for students multiple times a year

    New Georgetown University Report Calls for Greater Transparency around College and Careers

    A new report suggests that the value of a higher education should be made more transparent by connecting college to careers. The report suggests that the increasing complexity of both higher education and the job market call for increase information about the value of degrees in the workforce. The lead author of the report states: “Learners and workers need a modern guidance system with clear and comprehensive consumer information that will help them make good college and career decisions.” The report also highlights some state efforts to provide better information.

    New Study Examines effects of Mandatory and Free College Entrance exams 

    An article in Education Finance and Policy “examines the effects of requiring and paying for all public high school students to take a college entrance exam”. The article’s key findings include:
    • Without this kind of policy “for every ten poor students who score college-ready on the ACT or SAT, there are an additional five poor students who would score college-ready but who take neither exam.”
    • This policy generated small increases in enrollment at four-year institutions. “The effects are concentrated among students less likely to take a college entrance exam in the absence of the policy and students in the poorest high schools.”
    • “The students induced by the policy to enroll persist through college at approximately the same rate as their inframarginal peers.”
    • “The policy is more cost-effective than traditional student aid at boosting postsecondary attainment.”

    Article Compares High School Exit Exams in Top Educational Systems

    An article from the National Center On Education and the Economy calls for greater rigor in high-school exit examinations, so they measure real-world skills. The article looks at six high-school exit examinations. Four from top-performing international jurisdictions, and two top-performing U.S. states. Each exam was examined for percentage of questions in Long-form, short answer, and multiple choice categories.

    New Report on U.S. Students Challenges due to Race and Ethnicity

    A new report from the National Center for Education Statistics examines 28 indicators of educational progress and challenges for minority students. In addition to describing the growing diversity in public schools, some of the key findings include:
    • “In 2014, the percentage of children under age 18 living in poverty based on the official poverty measure was highest for Black children (37 percent), followed by Hispanic children (31 percent), and White and Asian children (12 percent each)”
    • “In 2014, about 4.7 million public school students participated in English language learner (ELL) programs. Hispanic students made up the majority of this group (78 percent), with around 3.6 million participating in ELL programs”
    • “From 1990 to 2015, the high school status completion rate for 18- to 24-year-olds increased from 59 percent to 88 percent for Hispanic students, from 83 percent to 92 percent for Black students; and from 90 percent to 95 percent for White students. Despite this progress, the completion rates for Hispanic and Black 18- to 24-year-olds remained lower than the White rate in 2015”
    • “The number of bachelor's degrees awarded to Hispanic students more than doubled between 2003–04 and 2013–14. During the same period, the number of degrees awarded also increased for Black (by 46 percent), Asian/Pacific Islander (by 43 percent), and White (by 19 percent) students; and Asian (7 percent) adults.”

    Latest Postsecondary Institutional Data Now Available

    The National Center for Education Statistics has released its “First Look” report on 2016-2017 cost of attendance, degrees and awards, and 12-month enrollment. The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) collects institution-level data from postsecondary institutions in the United States and
    other U.S. jurisdictions. “First Look” presents findings from the preliminary data of the IPEDS fall 2016 data collection.

    Survey of How to Engage College Bound Students and Their Parents

    Ruffalo Noel-Levitz partnered with NRCCUA, CollegWeekLive and OmniUpdate to survey high school students and their parents through the MyCollegeOptions program about electronic communication/digital marketing preferences and usage.  They posted an infographic early insight into the data which will be released in full in the Fall through their eExpectations report.  The early findings include:
    • Most parents and students are open to text messaging.
    • Students prefer to learn about college through Facebook and use the college’s website to find the social media connection.
    • Almost two-thirds of parents of seniors indicated they completed the application for admission on behalf of their student.

  • AACRAO Eye on Research June 2017

    by Wendy Kilgore | Jun 29, 2017

    Commentary – How to get students to eat their vegetables

    In my search for interesting higher education research articles to share with you, I occasionally run across results that are surprising and interesting in ways that I was not expecting.  The just-released Stanford University associated study in the online version of the Journal of the American Medical Association for Internal Medicine is one of those studies.  The article is titled the “Association Between Indulgent Descriptions and Vegetable Consumption: Twisted Carrots and Dynamite Beets.” Although the concept of in loco parentis has for the most part disappeared from higher education, institutions continue to be concerned with the general health and well-being of their students, and this includes providing a healthy variety of food options through campus food services.  This research was not tied only to campus food service but the larger issue of promoting healthier food choices.  However, the subjects of the study were primarily Stanford University undergraduate and graduate students. The researchers found that using indulgent food labels for vegetables resulted in a 23% increase in the mass of vegetables consumed compared to those labeled with more basic terms (e.g., “corn”), “healthy restrictive” (“reduced-sodium corn”), or “healthy positive (“vitamin-rich corn”) labels. In each instance, the vegetables were prepared the same.  Indulgent labels included “dynamite chili and tangy lime-seasoned beets,” “sweet sizzlin’ green beans and crispy shallots,” and “twisted citrus-glazed carrots.”  The results of this research point to a low-cost intervention that may help students make more healthy eating choices and may even have implications for campus dining marketing efforts

    Upcoming and Ongoing AACRAO Research

    The July 60-Second survey will focus on the practice of monitoring social media and its impact on the admissions process. This topic became the focus of the survey as a result of the June 5th Washington Post article “Harvard withdraws 10 acceptances for ‘offensive’ memes in private group chat.” We hope your institution will participate in this survey, we and want to remind everyone that the results are reported in the aggregate only. No information about specific institutions will be reported.

    The grades and grading practices surveys have closed, and we had a good response – 661 undergraduate and 306 graduate and/or professional institutions responded to the surveys.  The results will be analyzed, compared to past survey results, and released in book format.  This summer’s chief enrollment management career profile survey and subsequent report will expand on the 2014 version in that it will include “words of wisdom” for upcoming professionals as well as interviews with professionals currently employed in this position. In addition, the college completion initiative interviews are almost complete, and the report writing is well underway.

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    Early FAFSA/ISIR Activity 

    Royall & Company Research released the results of a 171-institution survey about institutional changes in practice in response to the early FAFSA.  Among others, the key findings included: 
    • “Forty-one percent of participants indicated they had significant early FAFSA activity, 43% indicated they had moderate activity, 8% reported minimal activity, and 7% indicated they had no activity.”

    • “Schools with significant FAFSA activity were up in ISIRs an average of 55% year over year (compared with February 1, 2016).”

    • “When looking at point-in-time comparisons related to the FAFSA application release date, 26% of schools are releasing their need-based financial aid offers 4- 8 weeks earlier than last year, 31% are releasing offers 2-3 weeks earlier than last year, 20% are releasing their offers around the same time as last year, and the remaining 24% are releasing their offers later than last year.”

    AACRAO conducted a similar survey in July 2016, before the early FAFSA was released, seeking feedback on anticipated practice changes.

    CUNY Start Program

    An op-ed story in The New York Times titled “Ending the Curse of Remedial Math” highlights the effectiveness of a CUNY program for students who do not test into college-level courses in math, reading and writing.  This program has proven effective for more than half of its students who are college ready within just one semester.  Students are enrolled in the CUNY Start program full-time and attend classes for 25 hours per week.  

    Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses

    The American Council on Education (ACE) Center for Internationalization and Global Engagement (CIGE) recently completed an assessment of the current state of internationalization at American colleges.  The mapping is completed every five years, and the degree of internationalization is measured across six parameters: “articulated commitment; administrative structures and staffing; curriculum, co-curriculum, and learning outcomes; faculty policies and practices; student mobility; and collaboration and partnerships.” Among other conclusions, this year’s data finds that “institutions are optimistic about their internationalization progress” and it is an increasingly “administrative-intensive” undertaking.

    Student Centered Financial Aid

    AACRAO, NACAC and NASFAA partnered with Tyton Partners on a Bill & Melinda Gates-funded project to identify the “challenges and emerging solutions related to technology in the U.S. financial aid system.”  Tyton Partners used a combination of interviews, market analysis and survey data for the project.  The researchers found three future trend drivers for financial aid technology: 
    • “Schools become more student centered, focusing on the student’s experience from inquiry to matriculation to graduation;

    • SIS platforms remain the main solution for core financial aid processing but enable greater integration with other systems; and

    • ‘point solutions’ that are targeted at distinct problems in the financial aid system show increased development and traction.”

    Equity in Education: Key questions to consider

    The Education Commission of the States completed a special report, the results of which are designed to encourage an increase in the intentionality of policy assessment and development throughout the P-20 spectrum.  There are a series of “equity minded” questions to ask about state-level policy on teaching and leading; learning and transitioning; measuring and improving; and financing.

    Validity of Consumer Ratings for Higher Education

    Jonathan T. Rothwell, of the George Washington University Institution of Public Policy, developed an individual consumer ratings index and completed two validity tests.  His results, which were published on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN), indicate that institutions with higher consumer ratings predict higher income and well-being and correspond to objective quality measures from administrative sources.  As such, the author concludes that consumer ratings can provide both valid and reliable institutional quality comparisons.

    The Future of Online Education

    The Chronicle of Higher Education conducted a survey of 1,287 higher education administrators connected to online education.  Highlights from the data include:
    • Nearly all institutions offer online education

    • Part of strategic plan for two-thirds

    • Faculty perceptions of online education growing more positive

    • More than half agree that online education made their overall education stronger or much stronger

    • Institutions are using third party providers for course quality certification

    • 98% of public institutions offer fully-online courses compared to 89% of private institution

    Policy Snapshot - Competency Based Education

    The Education Commission of the States completed a summary of the 2016 and 2017 state level legislative activities related to competency based education (CBE).  In 2016, three states considered CBE legislation, and one bill was enacted in Florida.  In 2017, seven bills were introduced, of which two were enacted (Utah and Virginia), and four remain pending in Texas and Oregon as of the release of this report.

  • AACRAO Eye on Research May 2017

    by Wendy Kilgore | May 26, 2017

    Announcing AACRAO Research Grants

    Starting this year, AACRAO intends to award up to three AACRAO members a $2,000 research stipend to be used toward the completion of an advanced degree and the development of a draft academic research article.  The application form is currently open, and we will accept applications through September 1st. 

    The purpose of the grants is to encourage applied research on enrollment management issues and to foster the next generation of higher education leaders. The research grant program intends to support the pursuit of advanced degrees among AACRAO members and to stimulate thought, discussion and research on emerging topics in higher education enrollment management.
    Research Topics
    The applicant selects the topic to be researched with supervision by a faculty member at his or her institution. Appropriate topics may be drawn from a wide range of subjects of interest to the AACRAO community. Applicants are not restricted to the suggested topics listed below as long as their proposals address the stated purpose of the Graduate Research Grant Program.   Major research topic areas of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • Enrollment management
    • Recruitment and marketing
    • Admissions
    • Transfer and articulation
    • International admissions
    • Diversity, equity and access
    • Administrative information technology
    • Student services
    • Financial aid
    • Enrollment Services
    • Retention
    • Student Success
    • Federal and state policy

    Applicants and awardees must meet the following eligibility requirements:

    1. Be an active AACRAO member; and
    2. Be enrolled at an accredited institution of higher learning for the academic year in a graduate program leading to a master’s or doctoral degree; or
    3. Be enrolled in a series of graduate certificates in enrollment management at an accredited institution of higher learning. 

    Schedule for 2016-17

    The objective of the current research program is to initiate awards by the start of the fall 2017 semester.
    • May 2017 – Application submission opens.
    • September 1, 2017 – Electronic submission of complete application is due.
    • September 30, 2017 – Stipend awarded to recipient(s).
    • February 1, 2018 – Draft conference presentation due.
    • May 14, 2018 – Draft SEMQ article due.
    For additional information and for the application form, please click here.

    Upcoming and Ongoing AACRAO Research

    May 60-Second Survey - Results

    The Joint Statement on the Transfer and Award of Credit is being rewritten by AACRAO, the College Board, WICHE and CAEL.  Institutional membership on this committee includes: Montgomery College (Maryland), York College of Pennsylvania, Capella University, CUNY LaGuardia, the University of California System, Florida International University, Cleveland State University and Everett Community College (WA). The goal of the statement rewrite is to identify transfer credit best practices and to provide guiding principles for working with transfer credit and transfer students. The May 2017 60-Second Survey was designed to help the advisory committee learn more about our member institutions’ current transfer policy and practices. We also collected several samples of transfer policy for the soon-to-be-implemented policy repository. Key findings are included below. 

    Key Findings 

    • Just ten of the responding institutions do not accept any transfer credit.
      • Institutions with fewer than 1,000 students are less likely to accept transfer credit than others. 
      • Among the eight in this particular sample, four are undergraduate, graduate and/or professional institutions; two are graduate and/or professional; and one each undergraduate, other.
    • A quarter of graduate and/or professional institutions report accepting undergraduate transfer credits.  It is unclear from this data what purpose that transfer credit serves.
    • Not all institutions post their transfer policy in a location available to the public.
      • The majority in that sample are U.S. institutions and either public or private, not-for-profit schools. This data is of note because of the requirements for institutions participating in Title IV to post the “policies of the institution related to transfer of credit from other institutions” on the College Navigator website and the institution’s website “in an easily accessible manner.”   However, it is unknown whether the institutions in this group participate in Title IV programs.  If they do not, they are not required to post the policy.  
    • The items addressed in the transfer policies vary widely by institutional size, type and control as well as the academic level of the policy. 
    • Several states and provinces maintain a website on transfer practices and policies.
    • The most sought after guidance includes accreditation regulations, international transfer credit, high school credit/dual enrollment, and length of time credits are valid.

    Chief Enrollment Officer Career Profile Survey

    It’s been three years since we completed the first Chief Enrollment Officers Career Profile Report.  The survey associated with the report will be distributed this summer.  The first report can be found at: http://www.aacrao.org/resources/resources-detail-view/chief-enrollment-management-officer-career-profile-report.  The original survey begins on page 24.  If you have any suggestions for changes, please let me know by the second week of June (wendyk@aacrao.org).

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    CUPA-HR Releases the 2017 Salary Data

    AACRAO has taken the position of not soliciting salary data from our members because CUPA-HR collects and reports on this data annually.  We have extracted some key position salary data by institutional characteristics from the administrators and professionals reports.  This has been provided for informational purposes.  For the complete data set, see the CUPA-HR site.

    Wealth Gap Fueling Education Gap and Upward Mobility

    The Urban Institute used data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) from the Institute of Social Research at the University of Michigan. They used this data to “estimate the relationship between educational achievement (at age 25) and family wealth (at 18).”  They found the following:
    • “Young people from high-wealth families (wealth above roughly $223,500) are more than one and a half times as likely to complete at least two or four years of college by age 25 as those in low-wealth families (wealth below $2,000)” and
    • “Among families in which parents did not graduate from college, young people from high-wealth families are roughly twice as likely to be upwardly mobile as those from low-wealth families.”

    Social Media and College Choice among Underrepresented Students

    Royall & Company surveyed over 5,500 college-bound students about their media use and preferences.  They found the following:
    • Students use a mix of institutional and personal resources to learn about college choices.
    • Underrepresented students use social media to learn about and interact with colleges more?? than their counterparts.
    • More than three-quarters still like paper mailings as a source of information.
    For additional findings, please see the full report available through the link above.

  • AACRAO Eye on Research April 2017

    by Wendy Kilgore | Apr 27, 2017


    By Melanie Gottlieb

    AACRAO research received extensive media coverage in March and April due to the release of the final report “International Applicants for Fall 2017 – Institutional & Applicant Perceptions” (see summary below) on April 4th.  The survey clearly tapped into the anxiety felt by higher education institutions and the media since the change in administration (see figure 1 below). The early release of results on March 13th focused on the drop in application numbers, specifically in the Middle East, Asia and Latin America.  This was covered by the media as an example of the “Trump effect,” with some media outlets sharing the data in a somewhat misleading context, despite AACRAO’s accompanying text that characterized the intent as merely a snapshot.  For the full release on April 4th, AACRAO attempted to shift the conversation away from the drop in applications, instead focusing on the specific nature of concerns from the various regions and the institutional tactics to assuage those concerns.

    Figure 1: Media coverage of AACRAO survey

    New Research Advisory Board Member

    By Wendy Kilgore

    Dr. William (Bill) DeWolf, Registrar at Emerson College, is our newest member of the research advisory board. Bill has been working in leadership positions in higher education administration and student administrative services for more years than he cares to admit. He has experience at four-year public and four-year private institutions in the Northeast and Mid-West. Bill was also the University Registrar at the former Medical College of Pennsylvania – Hahnemann University with experience merging two distinct medical schools into the largest medical school in the United States.  He is passionate about registrar business processes, student administrative services (one-stop environments), international programs (ACE Internationalization & Globalization at Emerson College), legal issues in higher education (particularly FERPA), competency-based programs, strategic vision as it relates to and in the registrar’s office and public policy. 

    Bill is currently an active member of AACRAO, NEACRAO and NEBUG, and has been associated with MSACROA and MACRAO. He has served in various roles, on committees such as Professional Development (AACRAO, NEACRAO and MACRAO) and Nominations & Elections (NEACRAO). He has made numerous presentations at AACRAO’s Annual Meetings and NEACRAO and MSACROA conferences, on topics ranging from advice for new or transitioning registrars, one-stop environments, online submission of grades and public policy. In 2010, AACRAO inaugurated the Public Policy Advisory Committee and asked Bill to become the chair. He served in that capacity until 2015. In 2014, AACRAO awarded the Thomas A. Bilger Citation for Service Award to Bill at AACRAO’s Annual Meeting in Denver, CO.

    Bill holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from the State University College at Buffalo and a Ph.D. from The Florida State University. Dr. DeWolf is filling the vacancy left by Tysa Egleton who served since 2015 as an inaugural member of the advisory board. 

    Upcoming and Ongoing AACRAO Research

    Community College Completion Initiatives

    This project is well underway with the student data collection phase completed, the literature review drafted, and the institutional survey set to close by the end of April.  We have made a slight change in our plans for this project in that instead of very brief institutional overviews based on interviews, we hope to take a deeper dive into a few institutions representing differences in size, type and location.  

    May 60-Second Survey

    AACRAO, in conjunction with other higher education associations, is writing a new version of the Joint Statement on the Transfer and Award of Credit. This original statement was written in 2001 and, while forward thinking, needs to be updated to address current and future higher education trends. The goal of this rewrite is to identify transfer credit best practices and to provide guiding principles for working with transfer credit and transfer students. The May 2017 60-Second survey is designed to capture a snapshot of current policy and to seek input from the membership about what guidance AACRAO can provide on the topic of transfer policy.  

    Policy Repository Update

    We collected the first set of policies through the undergraduate grading survey.  The May 60-Second survey will include a request for transfer policy examples.  The graduate grading policies will be collected in May as well.  We hope to have an initial beta-release of the repository later this year.

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    Three Studies All Point to the Current U.S. Political Climate Having the Potential to Negatively Impact International Student Enrollment. 

    AACRAO - Perceptions of immigration policy changes cause concerns for international students and their families about study in the U.S.

    AACRAO, in partnership with the Institute of International Education (IIE), the International Association for College Admission Counseling, the National Association for College Admission Counseling and NAFSA: Association of International Educators, released the final report of the “International Applicants for Fall 2017 – Institutional & Applicant Perceptions.” It revealed concerns ranging from perception of a rise in student visa denials at U.S. embassies to concerns that benefits and restrictions around visas could change. 

    Last month the group issued an early release of key findings from their February 2017 member survey due to the increased and continued focus on immigration issues. The inter-associational survey was conducted in response to expressed concern from international educators that the political discourse leading up to the November 2016 U.S. presidential election could be damaging to institutional recruitment efforts. Approximately 300 institutions responded to the survey. 

    The survey tapped into the anxiety felt by higher education institutions and the media since the change in administration, resulting in extensive media coverage (see figure 1 below). The early release of results on March 13th focused on the drop in application numbers, specifically in the Middle East, Asia and Latin America.  For the full release on April 4th,  AACRAO attempted to shift the conversation away from the drop in applications, instead focusing on the specific nature of concerns from the various regions and the institutional tactics to assuage those concerns. 

    This snapshot data could be an early indicator of a potential slowdown or decrease in international student enrollments for the Fall 2017 enrollment period, a decline that would have major negative economic impacts for institutions and potentially could result in an increase in tuition for U.S. students. Other key survey findings include: 
    • 77% of institutions expressed concerns regarding application yield, with data that aligns closely to the countries of concern.
    • 38% of responding institutions reported a decline in international applications; 35% reported an increase; and 27% reported no change in applicant numbers.
    The group plans a follow-up survey next month to obtain a first look at institutional yield.  While the final enrollment numbers for Fall 2017 will not be known by institutions until their international students arrive at the start of the Fall 2017 semester in mid-August, a comparison of accepted offers and deposits from last year to this year will be a useful tool to help gauge the impact of shifts in immigration policies on institutional enrollment.  

    AACRAO and its partner associations will continue to monitor this issue in order to provide tools for institutions to manage their enrollments. 

    Academic Impressions - The Trump Effect on International Students: Early Indications and Insights

    Similar to the intra-organizational survey completed by AACRAO, Academic Impressions completed a survey of “over 100 enrollment managers and international education professionals” on the subject of negative consequences on international student enrollment in the United States based on the current political climate. Their findings were similar to AACRAO’s, and a select few have been included here.

    “What impact on international enrollment do you anticipate from the current White House administration’s policies?
    • 44% expect HIGH impact, not only on enrollment from Muslim-majority nations, but from other key international markets (China, South Korea, India, etc.) as well
    • 12% expect HIGH impact, but only on enrollment from Muslim-majority nations
    • 22% don’t know
    • ONLY 4% of respondents expect no impact.”

    Royall & Company - 2017 International Student Enrollment Survey: Travel ban implications on higher education

    More than 2,000 students from 150 countries were surveyed by Royall & Company about their interest in studying in the United States.  One in three respondents indicated their interest in studying in the United States has decreased due to the political climate, with those from the Middle East representing the highest percentage with decreased interest. 

    NSC Research Center – Completing College: A National View of Student Attainment Rates by Race and Ethnicity, Fall 2010 Cohort

    This Lumina Foundation supported student level report examined the 6-year degree and certificate completion rates for the fall 2010 cohort.  NSC working with the University of Chicago to create a representative sample of schools and the completion rate “includes students who completed a degree or certificate at a different institutions from where they started.”  Data was disaggregated by race and ethnicity data.  Among the key findings the authors found that black students had the lowest six-year completion rate (45.9%) compared to white (67.2%) and Asian (71.7%) students.  They also found that “the completion gap between racial groups tend to shrink as students grow older.”

    NSC Research Center Snapshot Report: Contribution of Two-Year Public Institutions to Bachelor’s Completions at Four-year Institutions

    NSC studied the enrollment patterns for a ten-year period for those who completed a bachelor’s degree in 2015-16.  Key findings include:
    • 49% of all bachelor’s degree earners enrolled at a two-year public institution at some point in that ten-year period
    • 22% were only enrolled at a two-year institution for one term
    • More than half of the 2015-16 graduating cohort had previous enrollment in a two-year public institution in 20 states.

      Source: https://nscresearchcenter.org/snapshotreport-twoyearcontributionfouryearcompletions26/

    CAPSEE Infographic: The Value of Associate Degrees and Certificates

    The figures below were created by CAPSEE from their report The Labor Market Returns to Sub-Baccalaureate College: A Review. Researchers found that, in general, women receive a larger boost from earning an associate degree compared to men ($7,160 vs. $4.640 more per year).

    Source: http://capseecenter.org/research/by-the-numbers/earnings/

    Source: http://capseecenter.org/research/by-the-numbers/earnings/

    CAPSEE Working Paper - Labor Market Trajectories for Community College Graduates: New Evidence Spanning the Great Recession

    This study followed students who earned either a certificate or associate’s degree from an Ohio community college for up to 11 years after they initially entered. The authors found their data supported “prior findings regarding the positive early returns to associate degrees and long-term certificates.”  They also found that while the returns of an associate degree grow after graduation, the returns of the certificate do not. 

    NCES Guide to Descriptive Analysis Education

    This new guide from NCES provides guidance on how to more effectively approach quantitative descriptive analysis.  This type of analysis is defined in the guide: “Descriptive analysis characterizes the world or a phenomenon— identifying patterns in the data to answer questions about who, what, where, when, and to what extent.”  The target audience of this guide are researchers who conduct descriptive and cause studies using large-scale data.

    CCRC Early Insights Report on AACC Guide Pathways Colleges

    CCRC interviewed staff from all 30 institutions who are currently participating in the AACC Guided Pathways project.  Researchers also visited six colleges.  The report based on this work highlights the progress towards implementing the guided pathways.  A few of the key findings from the report are included here:
    • “The colleges are redesigning their websites to show how program maps connect to career and transfer opportunities.
    • The colleges are trying to find a balance between providing too much and too little choice.
    • The colleges are ensuring that students get a taste of a field of interest in their first semester.
    • Some of the colleges are beginning to build pathways down into high schools, often starting with dual enrollment students.
    • The colleges in the AACC Pathways are redefining advising roles—and in some cases hiring new advisors—to support a more proactive model of advising, with check-ins at key decision points along students’ paths.
    • Most of the colleges are trying to create more predictable schedules and taking other steps to enable students to complete their programs more quickly.”

  • AACRAO Eye on Research March 2017

    by Wendy Kilgore | Mar 27, 2017

    Commentary – A Call for 60-Second Survey Ideas

    Our next 60-Second survey is scheduled for May, and I’d love to hear about what topics are of interest to you.  Please email me directly at wendyk@aacrao.org with your ideas.  These ideas can include updating the 60-Second survey topics from late 2014 and early 2015.

    AACRAO Research Insights

    We just completed the March 60-Second survey on managerial coaching practices and interest in being and AACRAO mentee or mentor. Key findings are included below.

    Key Findings 

    • More than half reported holding a master’s degree, and this value does not vary much by institutional control or position level.
    • The mean years employed at the current institution is 11.81.
    • The mean years working for the current supervisor is 3.59.
    • Almost half reported interest in being matched with an AACRAO mentor; nearly the same percentage reported interest in serving as an AACRAO mentor.
    • Encouragingly, more than half report that their supervisors model the following coaching behaviors –
      • “Encourages me to broaden my perspectives by helping me see the big picture”
      • “Provides me with constructive feedback”
      • “Provides me with resources so I can perform my job more effectively”
      • “To help me think through issues, my supervisor asks questions, rather than provides solutions.”

    As mentioned in February’s blog, AACRAO partnered with four higher education associations--the Institute of International Education (IIE), the International Association for College Admission Counseling, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, and NAFSA: Association of International Educators--in February 2017 to launch an inter-associational member survey. Due to the increased and continued focus on immigration issues, an early release of key findings is available today to help institutions forecast and prepare for what might lie ahead. “International Applicants for Fall 2017 – Institutional & Applicant Perceptions” is intended to be a snapshot of international student and family perceptions, as well as institutional activities. 

    Key Findings

    • 39% of responding institutions reported a decline in international applications; 35% reported an increase; and 26% reported no change in applicant numbers.
    • 39% of institutions have reported declines in undergraduate applications for Fall 2017 from the Middle East
    • Institutions reported that applications from India and China have also been impacted. Open Doors 2016 indicates that these two countries currently make up 47% of our international student enrollment, with almost half a million students studying in the United States.

    "The survey results suggest a rising level of concern on the part of institutions that fall enrollments in the United States may be impacted by perceptions that the U.S. is becoming less welcoming of international students,” said Michael Reilly, Executive Director, AACRAO. “Institutions are struggling to reassure students that their studies or travels will not be disrupted by future policy changes during this period of tremendous uncertainty."

    Upcoming AACRAO Research

    The student survey for the community college completion initiatives research project examining the impact on the institution and on student success has deployed, and we met our goal of 1,000 student responses.  The institutional survey was shared with almost 700 community college leaders on March 20th.  We have asked institutional respondents to volunteer for in-depth interviews on the topic.  Jacob, our research intern, is busy working on the comprehensive literature review to support this report.  Based on the feedback on the draft institutional survey, there appears to be considerable interest in examining the college completion initiatives in this manner. 

    The undergraduate grading survey closed on March 24th with more than 550 U.S. institutions completing the survey.  The graduate grading practices survey will be deployed in late April or early May. The data gathered from the closed and open-ended questions in these surveys will be used to update the 2004 AACRAO publication on the same topic.  

    This summer we will roll out an updated survey on the career paths of Chief Enrollment Management Officers.  We last completed a survey on this topic in 2014 and it is our intent to update the career profile surveys once every three years.

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    NCES First Look Report on Graduation Rates, Outcome Measures, Student Financial Aid, and Admissions in Postsecondary Institutions for Selected Cohorts 

    A just released “First Look Report” covering a wide-range of topics highlights the following findings, among others:

    • Graduation rates
      • Approximately 59% of first-time, full-time (FTFT) students at four-year institutions who started in 2009 had earned a bachelor’s degree or equivalent within six years at the institution where they started.
    • Student financial aid
      • For FTFT students attending college in 2014-2015, the net price of attendance was as follows:
        • Public 4-year: $12,400
        • Nonprofit 4-year: $21,900
        • For-profit 4-year: $22,100
    • Admissions
      • Approximately 1.6 million students enrolled in Title IV non-open-admissions institutions for fall 2015 yielded from approximately 10 million applications.

    National Student Clearinghouse – Yearly Success and Progress Rates

    The National Student Clearinghouse report on the yearly success and progression of FTFT across all institutional sectors shows a slightly higher six-year graduation rate (61.1%) for the 2010-2012 cohort than the NCES first look report on the 2009-2012 four-year institutional cohort. The six-year graduation rate for first-time, part-time is not as rosy at 38.3%.  The report further disaggregates this data by institutional sector.

    American Council on Education: Instructional Quality, Student Outcomes, and Institutional Finances

    The American Council on Education released a white paper entitled Instructional Quality, Student Outcomes and Institutional Finances.  This white paper explores the relationship between instructional quality and institutional net revenue.  Profiles (case studies) of four institutions were included.  These profiles focus on the systematic efforts of these institutions to increase net institutional revenue through improvements in instructional quality.  Descriptive evidence is provided.

    Three Waves of International Student Mobility (1999-2020)

    A recent article in Studies in Higher Education examines international student mobility through the lens of “three waves,” each defined by key events: Wave 1 by the events of September 11, 2001; Wave 2 by the global recession; and Wave 3 by the downturn in the Chinese economy, Brexit and the American Presidential election.  Based on his consideration of enrollment trends, the author notes that “underlying drivers and characteristics of the three waves suggest that institutions are under increasing financial and competitive pressure to attract and retain international students” and that they must innovate to remain competitive. 

    Alternative Credentials: Prior Learning 2.0

    The Online Learning Consortium Research Center for Digital Learning & Leadership released the results of their study.  This study aimed to “provide a better understanding of how adult learning institutions address students who possess alternative credentials and seek to apply these experiences to a degree.”  Six U.S. higher education institutions participated in the case studies, which provide a foundation of knowledge on the topic. 

    The Maturation of Mobile and Social: The 2017 Social Admissions Report

    Chegg and TargetX released a report highlighting their findings including:

    • 93% of respondents use at least one college search or review site
    • 4 in 5 use those sites to research scholarship information and 2 in 3 to research financial aid
    • Almost three-quarters use the same site to review general admissions information
    • Prospective students report using several social media platforms in their college search process

     Source: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/maturation-mobile-social-admissions-marketing-gil-rogers 
    Three New Publications from CAPSEE 

    Does the Federal Work-Study Program Really Word and for Whom?

    This brief discusses recent research on the Federal Work-Study (FWS) program. The authors examine the program’s impact at public and private institutions, and disparities in how those institutions are funded. They further examine how FWS and funding disparities may influence student success. They also offer potential policy solutions to address some areas of concern they identify.

    The Impact of Pell Grant Eligibility on Community College Student’s Financial Aid Packages, Labor Supply, and Academic Outcomes

    This paper examines various effects of Pell grant eligibility on community college students. Through deep statistical analysis, the authors look at how Pell grant awards affect other student aid, including student borrowing and other forms of state aid. The paper also investigates how Pell affects student enrollment decisions and employment while in school. Much of the paper focusses on the differences between institutions that offer loans and those that do not.

    What We Know about Technology-Mediated Advising Reform

    This document summarizes CRCC research on how community colleges and open-access 4-year institutions are technology-mediated advising reform. 

    New Study: Improving Admission of Low-SES Students at Selective Colleges

    In the new issue of Educational Researcher, Drs. Bastedo and Hillman conducted an experimental simulation to determine if increased information on high school context increases the likelihood that admissions officers would recommend low-SES applicants for admission. The sample included 311 admissions officers at institutions in the top three tiers of Barron’s (2013) ratings on selectivity. Findings show that admissions officers in the detailed-information condition were 26%–28% more likely to recommend admitting low-SES applicants than those in the limited-information control group, which still received detailed information on student SES and high school context.

  • AACRAO Eye on Research February 2017

    by Wendy Kilgore | Feb 28, 2017

    A Welcome

    I’d like to introduce our new research intern, Jacob Wilson.  Jacob I. Wilson is a Ph.D. student at The University of Arizona's Center for the Study of Higher Education. Jacob teaches in the Leadership Studies program and works in Greek life at UA. His research interests include institutional efforts to promote and enhance democratic learning and engagement, community colleges and policy. He completed the “Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics” section in this month’s blog.  He and I will collaborate over the course of the next several months to complete the comprehensive project on the impact and effectiveness of the college completion agenda on community colleges. 

    AACRAO Research Insights

    We have two surveys in the field right now.  The first is a survey of undergraduate grading practices that we will use to update the 2004 AACRAO publication on the same topic.  Several hundred institutions have responded to date, and the survey will remain open through late March.  A very preliminary look at the data so far highlights the variety in grading practices at the undergraduate level. A similar survey on graduate grading practices will be distributed later this spring. 

    The second survey is an inter-organizational project between AACRAO, IIE, IACAC, NACAC, NAFSA and the College Board seeking institutional feedback on the state of international student recruitment and yield for fall 2017.  The survey asks if the institution is hearing any concerns from international students and/or their families.  The results of this survey will be available next month.

    Upcoming AACRAO Research

    We have just kicked-off the comprehensive college completion project.  We expect to start collecting data and conducting interviews by late March and early April. Next month’s 60-Second survey will be open to responses from all members and will invite insights into coaching and mentorship and interest in either serving as a mentor or being matched with one.

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    The Results are In: Inside Higher Ed’s 2017 Chief Academic Officers Survey

    The results for the 2017 Inside Higher Ed survey of Chief Academic Officers (CAOs) show a mix of optimism and skepticism among the 654 Provosts and CAOs who participated. While the vast majority (86%) of respondents believe the academic health of their institutions is excellent or good, there are concerns over faculty diversity, with 62% of respondents either agreeing or strongly agreeing that their institution will need to make hiring decisions differently in order to increase the number of minority faculty members. The survey was conducted by Gallup and includes 12 additional topic areas, and their findings, including:

    • Liberal Arts Education
    • Competency-Based Education
    • Assessment Programs
    • Diversity in Curriculum
    • Trigger Warnings
    • Scholarship and Leadership

    Early Momentum Metrics: Why They Matter for College Improvement

    In this Community College Research Center research brief, David Jenkins and Thomas Bailey propose three metrics of “early momentum” that institutions can use to measure whether reforms are enhancing student outcomes. The authors propose Credit Momentum, Gateway Momentum and Program Momentum as near-term metrics that, research is beginning to show, can predict long-term success.

    “Let Parents Be Parents” – An Appeal to Simplify Parent Involvement in Administrative Bureaucracy

    In his commentary in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Eric Johnson appeals to college administrators to ease the burden placed on parents of first-generation and low-income students. Johnson challenges campuses to consider simplifying the systems in place, from purchasing parking permits and selecting meal plans to paying tuition bills and registering for classes. Johnson writes, “First-generation parents don’t need more instruction on the college process. Colleges need to require less of it.” After all, he says, colleges build fundraising websites that do not require multi-part tutorials before accepting a donation by credit card.

    2017 CAPSEE Conference April 6-7 in Washington, DC

    “Making the Right Investments in College” is the theme of this year’s Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE) conference. CAPSEE is a consortium of scholars from seven universities housed and led by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College.

    Each year more than $500 billion is spent on higher education. The conference will focus on:
    • Are students making investments that will improve their economic futures?
    • Is public funding of college efficient?
    • Are colleges organized so that these investments yield the highest returns?

    Visit the CAPSEE Center for more about the conference and how to register.

    The To & Through Project – Busting Myths about High School & College Success

    The University of Chicago’s To & Through Project has developed a resource that aims to challenge and bust myths related to student success with data and research. Here are a few myths – check out the resource guide to get the facts. Some myths addressed include:

    MYTH: ACT and SAT scores are the most important indicator of success in college
    MYTH: As long as a student’s grades are strong enough to graduate high school, GPAs don’t really matter
    MYTH: Starting at a 2-year college provides the same opportunity to a 4-year degree as starting at a 4-year college

    Department of ED Releases a First Look of New Report

    The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) released a First Look report with provisional 2015-16 IPEDS data. The report is titled Enrollment and Employees in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2015; and Financial Statistics and Academic Libraries, Fiscal Year 2015: First Look. Select findings include:
    • Characteristics of Enrolled Students
    • Revenues and Expenses of Title IV Entities
    • Employees in Postsecondary Institutions
    • Academic Library Collections

    Unpacking Relationships – Instruction and Student Outcomes

    What role do instructors and instruction play in student learning and outcomes? According to a new paper published by ACE, what faculty members do and how instruction occurs matter a great deal. This paper explores five intersecting areas between student outcomes and instruction including transparency, pedagogical approaches, assessment, self-regulation and alignment. The author recommends support for instructors to create more active and student-centered learning methods.

    Call for Volunteers

    EAB’s Enrollment Management Forum, in partnership with The New School, is studying the effects of transcript request denials on students and their degree aspirations. Do transcript denials accomplish the intended effect of triggering bill payment? To what degree do they also lead to the unintended consequence of preventing a student in financial distress from pursuing education closer to home or at a more affordable institution?
    To complete this study we need you. Will your institution participate by sending data on transcript request denials? All data will be kept confidential and anonymous. Participating institutions will receive a customized institution-specific analysis in addition to the final, blinded, aggregate report.
    Below are the data requested, for each student that submitted but was denied a transcript due to a financial hold. Partial datasets are welcome.
    • Was the balance was paid following transcript denial (yes/no)
    • The size of the unpaid balance
    • Annual net price to student
    • Estimated Family Contribution (EFC)
    • G.P.A.
    • Credit hours earned
    • Is this a first-generation college student?
    • For students who do not pay, do NSC data indicate they enrolled elsewhere (yes/no)?

    Any data provided should be stripped of personally identifying information, including student ID numbers, names, and addresses. Please contact EAB at dstrait@eab.com with data, questions, or concerns.

  • AACRAO Eye on Research January 2017

    by Wendy Kilgore | Jan 30, 2017


    A Perspective on Student Records Management

    Teresita Flores, J.D., is providing this month’s commentary on student records management practices.  I would like to encourage others to provide guest commentaries on AACRAO research or other higher education related research of interest to the community. Please contact me if you are interested in contributing.

    From my perspective, and in my experience, it is unnecessary to retain documents any longer than required by the governing law or regulation that applies to that document. In higher education institutions, there should be records retention schedules that are separated by the part of the business that is in question. One body of law applies to employment records retention; another governs financial records. Education records, as that term is meant in a FERPA context, present an entirely separate body of concerns. What unifies these documents is the importance of an existing body of established business practices for documents retention. I find it notable that your research revealed almost half (46%) do not purge any student records or only purge some records in accordance with the student records retention policy and/or schedule. This is a significant issue.

    Unnecessary documents retention comes with a number of costs and risks. In a legal context, the problem with excessive documents retention is the risk of liability. Liability can show up in a variety of ways, further complicating matters. If an institution retains documents longer than required by the governing law or internal policy, then it becomes responsible for that decision. For example, if there is a public records request, the institution has an obligation to respond in a timely fashion. Excessive documents retention could hinder the institution’s ability to do that. Documents subject to subpoena must be produced, but only if they exist. If the institution has retained every document, including report or investigation drafts as well as completed final documents, all the documents that exist are required for production. If document destruction had occurred as allowed or as prescribed by law or policy, the document would not be available to produce as a matter of regular business practice. Responses to subpoenas must also be timely, and the institution runs into the same problem as under the request for public records. Absent ongoing litigation, if a document no longer serves a business or public purpose and the institution retains it past the time dictated by law and policy, the institution has literally decided to increase its costs and the risks associated with discovery of documents. The best practice is simple: Follow the law or regulation applicable to the type of business document in question, and definitely follow your own policies. To do otherwise invites significant risk of liability that could have been appropriately and lawfully avoided.

    Teresita M. Flores, JD, SPHR
    Dr. Flores is currently a consultant working with leaders and CEOs on compliance, training, investigations and HR. Formerly she was a higher education administrator responsible for legal affairs, human resources, EEO/AA/ADA, public records and copyright, and grants/contracts compliance.

    AACRAO Research Insights

    More than 1,000 institutions responded to the 60-Second Survey on Student Records Management Practices.  The results are highlighted below and the full report is here.

    • Nearly all (94%) of the responding institutions have a student records management schedule and/or policy.
    • Nearly all (97%) identify the transcript as a permanent document.
    • Almost three quarters (73%) of institutions with a policy and/or schedule use AACRAO guidelines as a student records management practice resource.
    • More than half (59%) have a single records management document that covers both policy and the retention schedule.
    • Document retention periods vary considerably among institutions.
    • The institution’s SIS/ERP is identified as the official source of student records for fewer than half (46%) of respondents. Fifteen percent (15%) still identify paper as the official copy, and 19% identify the scanned paper copy as the official record..
    • More than 8 in 10 (84%) retain more than one copy of a student record for all or at least some current student records..
    • Almost half (46%) do not purge any student records or only purge some records in accordance with the student records management policy and/or schedule. .
    • For most (71%) the office who “owns the record” is responsible for purging the records.

    Upcoming AACRAO Research

    The AACRAO research agenda for the next few months includes the following:

    • A comprehensive undergraduate grading practices survey to update the data collected for the 2004 AACRAO book on the same subject
    • A 60-Second survey on the availability of mentorship in the workplace and related topics
    • Impact of the college completion agenda at community colleges

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    Encouraging a Sense of Belonging Improves Outcomes in MOOCS for Certain At-Risk Learners

    In the October 2016 Eye on Research, I mentioned the lay-theory intervention that helped incoming freshmen overcome doubt that they have the means to succeed in college.  Dr. Geoffrey L. Cohen, one of the authors of that study, has collaborated with others on a similar set of field experiments to improve success in MOOCS.  Similar to the original study, the authors randomly assigned students from less-developed countries (LDCs) and more-developed countries (MDCs) enrolled in MOOCS in one of three conditions: “the value relevance affirmation, the social belonging intervention, or the control condition . . .”  The interventions had a positive effect on persistence for students from LDCs but a negative effect on students from MDCs.  The author’s look to prior research as an explanation for this difference.

    CAPSEE White Paper - Estimating Returns to College Attainment: Comparing Survey and State Administrative Data-Based Estimates

    Using recent data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (1997) the authors of this CAPSEE white paper developed a new estimates of returns to college attainment and how college degree attainment relates to interstate mobility.  They also discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using survey data versus state administrative data for estimating returns to college.  Findings include:

    • “relative to high school credentials only, there are substantial returns to bachelor’s and associate degree, as well as to enrollment in four-year colleges without obtaining a degree”
    • There are “positive effects on other labor market outcomes including likelihood of employment, full-time, full-year employment, and earning an annual ‘living wage’”
    • “four-year college enrollees and graduates are significantly more likely to work outside of their home state after college”

    CAPSEE White Paper - How and Why Do Adjunct Instructors Affect Student’s Academic Outcomes? Evidence from Two-Year and Four-Year Colleges

    The authors of this white paper used two statistical models to estimate the impact on student outcomes based on the type of instructor a student had at their initial exposure to a topic. The results suggest that introductory courses taught by adjuncts have a positive impact on introductory course grades.  However, the opposite was found to be true for subsequent course enrollment and performance.  Instructor demographics such as highest degree attainment, full-time employment and previous non-teaching working experience, can largely explain the estimated differences.

    Coursera Maps Learning Regions Based on Online Course Topics

    The image below was produced by Coursera.  They used the relative popularity of their online courses to create topical interest regions.

    Source: https://about.coursera.org/united-states-of-knowledge

  • AACRAO Eye on Research December 2016

    by Wendy Kilgore | Dec 21, 2016


    As I have noted before, we regularly receive questions from our members about how their policy and/or practices compare to other institutions.  While these questions influence the content of the 60-Second surveys, we believe it would be useful to our members and ongoing research to have an AACRAO policy library.  With your help, we will start building the library in 2017.  The content will be provided by and available to AACRAO members.  Beginning in early 2017, we will begin to ask the primary contacts at your institution to respond to a series of brief surveys that include a document upload feature.  Once collected the policy documents will be categorized and tagged to enable them to be searched by keywords in the library.  We will also establish procedures to support the ability for institutions to update their policies as applicable.   Please let me know if you have any questions about this project (wendyk@aacrao.org).

    I received an email announcement for the Center for Higher Education Enterprise (CHEE) at the Ohio State University Affiliates and Fellows Program, and thought I would share the opportunity.  This program is designed to connect researchers conducting social science research on student success.  The deadline for applying is February 1, 2017.  Benefits of the program include, but are not limited to, the following:

    • “Eligibility to apply for seed grants to support student success research
    • A $500 annual stipend for research purposes
    • Opportunities to collaborate on mutually beneficial research projects and grants, scholarly publications, and outreach programs
    • Opportunity to request special access to CHEE data for scholarly purposes
    • Professional biographical statement and photo included on CHEE’s website and promotional material”

    Eligibility requirements include the following:
    • “Tenured/Tenure-track faculty members
    • Administrators at research universities or in research-related positions
    • Earned doctorate degree from an accredited college/university”

    AACRAO Research Insights

    The just-released AACRAO report on the career profile of U.S. Chief Admissions Officers provided the following insights among others.  A chief admissions officer in the United States likely has these characteristics:

    • is between 35 and 49 years old
    • has been in the position fewer than five years
    • spent most of her career in higher education
    • has a master’s degree
    • has more than 20 years of experience in higher education
    • reports to the Vice President of Enrollment Management
    • has five or more direct reports
    • is generally satisfied in the position
    • has worked at more than one institution
    • views skill in communication and enrollment management as most important for the position
    • spends the most time on enrollment management
    • finding time to get things done is the most challenging aspect of the position

    The January 2017 60-Second Survey topic is records management.  This particular survey will provide data for an annual conference session by Sue Hamilton and Nora McLaughlin tied to the book AACRAO’s Student Records Management: Retention, Disposal and Archive of Student Records.  In February, we will be seeking input via a survey on grading practices to help update the AACRAO book on the same topic.

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    College Attainment Rates

    A new report from the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) Research Center examines the pathways to completion for students who started in fall 2010 and fall 2008.  Authors found that college completion rates are on the increase reversing an earlier trend.

    Using Multiple Measures to Improve Placement Accuracy in Community Colleges

    In November this year, a postdoctoral research associate at the Community College Research Center (CCRC) presented on the early results of a Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness (CAPR) project.  This project involves creating a multiple measures course placement algorithm for seven community colleges.  The presentation highlights the results of placement levels for the study groups so far.  Additional work will incorporate the course outcomes, persistence, and credits earned.

    One-Third of Community College Students Struggle to Meet Basic Needs

    The Community College Equity Assessment Lab (CCEAL) released a report “Struggling to survive: Striving to Succeed: Food and housing insecurities in the community college.” Among other findings, the study found that twelve percent of community college students face the “threat of hunger”, and one-third “experience the threat of homelessness and housing instability.”  In addition, students in remedial education, especially math, account for the majority of students faced with either or both issues. 

    Strategies for Postsecondary Students in Developmental Education

    The What Works Clearinghouse (IES-WWC) created a comprehensive evidenced-based practice guide to help underprepared students.  It includes six primary recommendations (below), and each contains an implementation checklist.

    1. “Use multiple measure to assess postsecondary readiness and place students.
    2. Require or incentivize regular participation in enhanced advising activities.
    3. Offer students performance-based monetary incentives.
    4. Compress or mainstream developmental education with course redesign.
    5. Teach students how to become self-regulated learners.
    6. Implement comprehensive, integrated, and long lasting support programs.”

  • AACRAO Eye on Research November 2016

    by Wendy Kilgore | Nov 21, 2016


    Dr. Ben Castleman was the SEM plenary speaker on the opening night of AACRAO’s SEM Conference.  His session highlighted First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Up Next” initiative aimed at providing both high school seniors and current college students key college enrollment and success action item messages through texts.  While this program is not the first in higher education to embrace the use of texts to move students to action, the scale of the Up Next program is unprecedented and likely to reach millions of prospective and current students.  His presentation slide deck is available to AACRAO members through a login here.  As I understood it, there is still time for institutions to become involved in this program and his contact information is available at the end of the slide deck.

    The use, “care, and feeding” of data was a one of the key SEM conference themes across the plenary speakers, in the sessions and at roundtables.  Discussions were had around trying to balance the need for external and internal reporting, identifying a person or persons for internal reporting needs, mining and using student success indicators, and other related topics.  Given this hot topic, I thought it could be useful to remind readers about the great open resources on data management available from EDUCAUSE available here.

    AACRAO Research Insights

    Dual Enrollment in the Context of SEM

    AACRAO and Hobsons released the Dual Enrollment in the Context of Strategic Enrollment Management report at the beginning of the SEM conference.  Below is an infographic highlighting some of the results.  The full report is available here.

    November 60-Second Survey: Miscellany
    Over 900 institutions responded to the November 60-Second Survey: Miscellany which consisted of a collection of mostly unrelated but important practice and/or policy questions assembled from member inquiries and other sources over the course over the last several months.  Some of the key findings are included below. Click here for the full report.
    • More than half withhold official transcripts when a current or former student owes less than $25.
    • A third do not drop a student from a course (or courses) for non-payment.
    • Less than 20% of undergraduate financial aid recipients are required to take a financial literacy class and less than 10% of graduate students have the same requirement.
    • Almost three-quarters of undergraduate students are required to meet with an academic advisor at least once a year as compared to less than half of graduate students. 
    • Almost one in five institutions report that an undergraduate student must submit a request for his or her submitted transcript to be evaluated for course equivalencies and a third of graduate students face the same requirement.
    • Less than half (40%) automatically revaluate an undergraduate student’s transfer credit when he/she changes major and less than a third do the same for graduate students.
    • Just 13% of institutions serving undergraduates post degrees automatically and 11% do the same for graduate students. 
    • In the aggregate, just one in five ask a student if he or she intends to re-enroll for the following term.  When a student indicates he or she does not intend to re-enroll, 81% ask the student why he or she does not intend to re-enroll.
    • Almost 40% report the drop/add period for full-term courses is “through the end of the first full week of full-term courses”

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    Study Finds Personality Traits are Key to College Success

    Vibeffect study of more than 5,000 high achieving students found that “low-income students in traditional four year colleges have equal probabilities of thriving {in college}; they are proportionally represented in the highest-thriving group.”  This study examined nearly 260 variables including traits, demographics and campus ecosystems and outlines the key self-reported traits tied to high-thriving students.

    Changes in Developmental and College-Level Course Enrollment and Passing in Florida 

    The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) completed a study of course enrollment and passing rate data before and after Florida’s 2014 removal of the requirement for students who placed at a pre-college level to enroll in college developmental courses. The study found the following:

    • “A smaller percentage of students enrolled in developmental education courses than in previous years. 
    • Passing rates in developmental education courses in math, reading, and writing increased an average of 2 percentage points compared with fall 2013. 
    • More students enrolled in gateway (entry-level college credit–bearing) courses, but passing rates in these courses declined compared with previous years, with the largest decline occurring in intermediate algebra. 
    • The proportion of all students entering college for the first time who passed English and math gateway courses increased compared with previous years.” 

    Education Advisory Board (EAB): “How relatively small grants retain students.”

    A study of over 40,000 students with GPAs above 3.0 found students to be slightly more likely to drop out of college if they lost between $1,000 and $1,500 in grant funding.  The percentage of those who drop out increases relative to a lost funding amount. 

    Cast Study “Delivering Exceptional Service Across the Student Lifecyle”

    Ovum conducted a case study of the use of the TargetX CRM platform at Pepperdine University to support communication across the entire student lifecycle.  Ovum draws the following institutional recommendations from the case study.
    • “Start small, but move quickly to an institution-wide CRM deployment. 
    • Identify an executive-level champion for the project early. 
    • Work closely with your CRM provider to understand the capabilities of the solution in a higher education context.”

    NCES Data Point Report: Examination of Credential Level and Occupational Credentials 

    An analysis of two employment data points associated with the 2003-04 Beginning Postseconday Students Longitudinal Study (BPS) found that employment rates were higher for completers than noncompleters at both the degree and certificate level.  Those who had completed a certificate had the lowest employment rate (77%) compared to those who earned associate’s or bachelor’s degreees.  However, the authors caution that “One cannot conclude from these data that employment outcomes are caused by differences in the level or type of credential earned.”

    Upward Bound at 50

    The Institute for Educational Sciences (IES) releases a new report that describes the “approaches that Upward Bound project use to provide core program services – advising, tutoring, academic coursework, college exposure, college entrance exam preparation, college application assistance, and financial aid application assistance.”

    NACUBO Guidance on Bursar Office Policy Manuals

    This month NACUBO released it comprehensive guidance on establishing student account policy manuals.

  • AACRAO Eye on Research October 2016

    by Wendy Kilgore | Oct 21, 2016


    A month or so ago Dr. Tom Green and I were chatting while driving back from Madison to Chicago, and he mentioned reading something in a New York Times op-ed about the results of three lay theory experiments, which piqued my interest because of the simplicity and apparent success of the intervention.  These experiments were designed to measure the effectiveness of lay theory pre-matriculation interventions in helping freshmen overcome feelings of doubt that they have the means to succeed in college and therefore improve success (see figure below).  One of the pre-matriculation interventions involved sharing upperclassmen’s “accounts of how they navigated the shoals of university life.”  I set about trying to find the original research and it took several weeks for me to track it down in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences. 

    The results of the experiments are very interesting and seem to have identified a fairly low-cost and highly effective intervention to help disadvantaged students close the achievement gap.  The authors summarize their results thusly, “The lay theory interventions raised first-year full-time college enrollment among students from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds exiting a high-performing charter high school network or entering a public flagship university (experiments 1 and 2) and, at a selective private university, raised disadvantaged  student cumulative first-year grade point average (experiment 3).  These gained correspond to 31-40% reductions of the raw (unadjusted) institutional achievement gaps between students from disadvantages and non-disadvantages background and those institutions.”


    AACRAO Research Insights  

    To round out the AACRAO career profile report series, we just deployed the chief admissions officer survey. This survey closes on November 4th, and the report should be available by early December.  The November 60-Second survey (being deployed Oct. 31st through Nov. 4th) is a collection of practice questions we have received from our members over the last several months—each of which are interesting and/or timely but on their own did not make a complete 60-Second survey.  Topics include how institutions capture last-day-of-attendance for financial aid, drop/add period lengths, automatic awarding of degrees without the need to apply for graduation, use of shadow-terms for freshmen, use of a computer literacy assessment for incoming students, and others.  

    These two surveys are being deployed on our new survey platform Qualtrics.  We have also built the AACRAO Core Professional Competencies as two self-assessments. These will be beta tested with SEM attendees.  The intent is to tie the various competencies and proficiencies with conference sessions.  Future enhancements aim to tie the assessments to the professional development resources available from AACRAO.

    Invitation to Share your Institution’s Practices

    DOL Overtime Rule and Your Campus 

    Congress recently proposed several new measures to delay the implementation of the Department of Labor's overtime rule, but failed to approve formally the legislation before breaking for recess. We expect a return to this issue after lawmakers return to Washington following the elections. We also expect President Obama to veto any delay if such a bill were to pass. 

    With the new requirements currently slated to take effect on December 1, we know many campuses have questions about implementation strategies and what other institutions are doing to comply with the new requirements. Has your institution developed a plan? Would you be willing to share how your institution intends to deal with different positions in its offices? If so, please email Quintina Barnett Gallion, AACRAO’s Assistant Director of Communication and Legislative Affairs.

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    Data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Indicates a Continuing Tendency in Undergraduate Enrollment towards Nontraditional Students

    Data from 2011-2012 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) revealed that “about 74%” of all undergraduates applying for financial aid had at least one characteristic typically attributed to nontraditional students and almost a third had 2-3 characteristics.  This data has not change much since 1995-1996. “Is it time to rethink the term nontraditional student?” 

    Pearson Finds that Many Adult Students Return to College to Keep Pace with Technology and Advancements in their Field

    Pearson conducted its first Adult Learners Survey of over 1,500 US adults either already enrolled in college or planning to enroll. The results of Pearson’s study revealed that most are not concerned with being replaced by younger workers or concerned about their job being outsourced to another country.  However, most (72%) noted that advancements in their field have led them to seek additional education to keep up. In addition, more than two-thirds (69%) believe that their job will change significantly in the next five years due to technological advancement.

    Returns to Vocational Credentials: Evidence from Ohio’s Community and Technical Colleges

    The CAPSEE authors found the following:
    • associate degrees generate positive earnings effects for both men and women, and the effects are strongest in health
    • certificates also generate positive returns with some gender differences

    Performance Standards in Need-Based Student Aid

    The National Bureau of Economic Research recently released a report (available for a small fee for non-member institutions) examining the consequences of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) failure.  The data supported theoretical predictions that in the short term there are “negative impacts on persistence but positive impacts on grades for students who remain enrolled.”  In the longer term, the negative effects of the policy/practice overshadow the positive.  The authors also found that SAP “appears to exacerbate inequality in higher education by pushing out low-performing low-income students faster than their equally low-performing, but higher income peers.”

    College Students Want More Learning Technology

    McGrawHill Education surveyed more than 3,000 students about the role of technology in their learning.   Among other discoveries, the report authors found that:  
    • "84% of students report that the use of technology improves their education
    • 81% report that digital learning technology helps save them time and be more efficient
    • 81% claim that digital learning technology is helping them boost their grades
    • 89% agreed that learning tech ‘should respond and adapt to my unique way of learning’
    • 61% prefer classes that use digital learning technology”

    Brookings Institution Race Disparity in Student Load Debt After Graduation

    Report authors Judith Scott-Clayton and Jin Li found that there is a $7,400 average greater debt load between black and white college graduates immediately after graduation.  This gap more than trebles in the next several years.  Taking into account interest accruals and graduate school borrowing, black students have almost twice as much debt four years after graduation at almost $53,000.  The authors “provide new evidence that racial gaps in total debt are far larger than even recent reports have recognized . . .” and identify policy implications.

    Two New Reports on Competency-Based Education (CBE)

    Competency-Based Education: A Study of Four New Models and Their Implications for Bending the Higher Education Cost Curve
    The rpkGroup completed a Lumina Foundation-funded first look report on four business models for CBE. The study findings suggest that CBE can lower the cost of instructional delivery and may offer a faster pathway to “demonstrate content mastery.”  However, it will likely take several years for an institution to see revenue numbers that match operating expenses and their significant up-front costs.
    One Path to Success: Early Evidence about the Efficacy of Postsecondary Competency-Based Education (CBE) Programs
    The American Institutes for Research collaborated with CBE leaders at six institutions to help answer the following questions about CBE: 1) Who is enrolling in CBE programs?;  2)  What outcomes did those students achieve, and how did they compare with students in traditional programs?; and 3) What data are being used, when gaps existed, and what else would be needed to better address these questions?  An infographic from the paper summarizes their early findings.


  • AACRAO Eye on Research September 2016

    by Wendy Kilgore | Sep 26, 2016


    Degree Revocation

    This month we had a question come in from a member regarding how best to address the issue of revoking a degree due to plagiarism found after the degree had been awarded.  A brief search on the subject revealed that several institutions have documented policies on the topic either as a stand-alone policy and/or included in the student code of conduct.  In addition, several AACRAO members were consulted on the issue, and their responses are paraphrased here.  At one member institution, the adjudicating body that deals with academic misconduct would recommend the sanction of degree revocation to the decision-maker (initially the dean). The president has final authority at the appeal stage. Since the faculty at this institution votes on the graduates, the president might elect to take it to the faculty for a vote but could on his own approve such a sanction. The student has the option to appeal (at two stages), with the president being the ultimate decider. If approved (through the final appeal stage), the degree would be revoked.  It was further suggested that an institution must address whether or not the student would be allowed to attempt to complete the degree by re-enrolling at some future date, be that immediately after the sanction or at some future date.

    Others had not run across the situation at their own institution and so consulted others who said this situation occurs rarely (i.e., “once in the last 10 years”).  Some of our members who responded had institutional policies themselves, while others had never run across the issue or applied a one-off practice to address the occurrence.  If you’d like to comment on this issue, please email me, and I will add your comments to the website.

    AACRAO Research and Occasional Partners

    Occasionally AACRAO will endorse a partner in their survey initiative.  Partners may include other associations or organizations engaged in research of interest to our membership and the higher education audience in general.  Although we receive several requests for partnerships, we are highly selective about those we choose to engage.  When we do partner, we may send the survey on behalf of the organization like we did for the American Council on Education with the 60-Second survey on the GED.  On other occasions, we will provide a subset of our membership contact list to our partner and allow them to indicate that AACRAO is a research partner.  For example, we, along with NACAC and NASFAA, have an opportunity to support Tyron Partners in their current research initiative funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  Their study into the technology used to support internal and student-facing U.S. financial aid practices will be emailed to AACRAO’s primary contacts from a Tyron Partners email address in October. If you have any questions about this partnership or AACRAO research partnerships in general, please email Wendy Kilgore, AACRAO’s Director of Research.

    Recent Inside Higher Ed Blog on the Importance of Market Segmentation in Higher Education

    I found Clarkson University Associate Vice President of Marketing Tim Jones’ commentary on the importance of understanding marketing segmentation in his Inside Higher Ed blog interesting, as are the findings in the Parthenon Group study of more than  3,000 Americans enrolled in or considering enrolling in college to which he refers.  Parthenon identifies six “distinct and defined segments based on their motivations and mindsets rather than just demographics” (Figure 1). Jones concludes his thoughts by stating that “Applying and refining the concept of motivation and mindset for other broad segments — alumni, donors, peers, funding agencies, parents — will spark new ideas for sophisticated marketing strategies. Considering what audiences want and why they want it can also help galvanize brand identity and open up opportunities for differentiation. Segmentation provides perspective on what it is that makes an institution unique that the market cares about.”

    Figure 1: Six Major Student Segments
    Source: The Parthenon Group http://cdn.ey.com/parthenon/pdf/perspectives/4.4.2-The-Differentiated-University-Part-I-1-disclaimer.pdf

    AACRAO Research Insights

    The September 2016 AACRAO 60-Second Survey focused on undergraduate and graduate class scheduling practices. Topics included: staffing level; primary responsibility for data entry; importance of various factors in the scheduling process; process timeline, availability of year-long registration; enrollment thresholds; the use of technology for class scheduling and student schedule planning; and the expected return on investment associated with the technology. 

    Key Findings for Undergraduate and Graduate Class Scheduling Practices

    • More than half of all respondents reported that the registrar’s office has primary responsibility for entering the class data into the student information system regardless of student level.
    • At the undergraduate level, nine in ten regard faculty availability as an “important” or “very important” factor in the undergraduate class scheduling process, followed by time block popularity and the class schedule from the previous year.
    • At the graduate and/or professional level, nine in ten also regard faculty availability as an “important” or “very important” factor in the class-scheduling process, followed by student request/need and faculty preferences.
    • While 40% report scheduling classes an academic term in advance, about a fifth schedule a full academic year in advance, and a further fifth report scheduling “less than one academic term in advance.”
    • Just 6% of institutions in this sample let students register for a full academic year at once. An additional 18% allow students to view the full academic year schedule but not register. 
    • Half do not own a classroom/class scheduling solution.
    • Almost two-thirds of institutions set a minimum class size threshold for a course to “run” compared to 8% who guarantee all courses will run regardless of enrollment. 

    Key Findings for Student Scheduling/Planning Technology

    • There appears to be confusion in the field about the difference in technology used by a student to plan which courses he will take in future terms, compared to a degree audit system, and further differentiated from a student scheduling/planning solution. The latter was defined in this survey as the following: “Schedule planning solutions are used by students to create optimal class schedules by identifying preferred classes and blocking off unavailable time. The software instantly informs the student of all possible conflict-free schedule combinations available for immediate registration.”
    • Twenty-eight percent of respondents reported their institution offers an online schedule planning tool for their students.
    • About one-third of those who do not have a solution indicated that they seek to acquire one in the next 12 months.
    • When asked about the expected return on investment for current owners, 90% of respondents hoped the schedule planning tool would improve the student experience, followed by improving timely student registration (68%) and improved time to degree (62%). 
    • While one-third of solution owners do not know the percentage of students using the product, almost one-quarter report a very high usage rate (80% or above).

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    Remedial Coursetaking at U.S. Public Two- and Four-Year Institutions

    The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) recently released a report on remedial coursetaking and its impact on postsecondary outcomes. NCES found that among those students who started in a postsecondary institution in 2003-04, 68% of those at two-year institutions and 40% of those at four-year institutions took at least one remedial course over a six-year timeframe.  Not unexpectedly, students enrolled at two-year institutions were more likely to enroll in two or more remedial courses than those who enrolled at four-year institutions. They also found that remedial course completers “did as well if not better than students who did not take any remedial courses” in terms of transferring to a four-year institution, earning college-level English credit, and persisting through college. In addition, they found that “Not all remedial completers experienced favorable outcomes once various demographic, academic, enrollment, and contextual characteristics were controlled for in the multivariate analysis.”

    Dual Credit – The Superintendent’s Perspective

    Hobsons recently released a report on dual enrollment based on a survey in conjunction with the American Association of School Administrators.  This executive summary report provides an insight into dual enrollment from the K-12 perspective.  Insights from this report will be compared to similar questions in the AACRAO/Hobsons joint dual enrollment project.  

    A guide to developing and evaluating a college readiness screener

    Two scholars from Florida State University developed a guide released by IES to help institutions identify college-ready students. The guide report then takes the reader through a step-by-step process that may be used to screen prospective students for college readiness. 

    Child Care for Parents in College: A State-by-State Assessment

    The Institute for Women’s Policy Research released a briefing paper that examined the share of public institutions with campus childcare centers (Figure 2). The authors found that from 2005-2015, campus childcare declined in 36 states at both two- and four-year institutions. Among those states with 33 or more public institutions of higher education, four states were found to have campus childcare at 75 percent or more of their public institutions. While 39 states and the District of Columbia do not have work requirements for parents enrolled in education and/or training to qualify for the child subsidy, three states require at least 20 hours of work a week, and eight require less than 20 hours a week.

    Figure 2: The Shares of Public Two- and Four-Year Institutions with Campus Child Care by State, 2015

    Source: IWPR analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Integrated Postsecondary Education Data Systems (IPEDS). 2015 Institutional Characteristics Component (2015 Preliminary Release).

    Student Diversity at More Than 4,600 Institutions

    The Chronicle of Higher Education released a dataset of more than 4,600 undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools and their student enrollment. The tables provide information about each institution’s demographics and their minority populations.

    New National Student Clearinghouse Report on Time to Degree

    The just-released report highlights the time to degree completion for a cohort of students who earned their associate’s or bachelor’s degree between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015.  “Overall, the average time enrolled for associate and bachelor’s degree earners was 3.3 years and 5.1 years, respectively. However, as the report shows, the time required for successful degree attainment could be influenced by the pathway the student followed as well as by factors, such as stop outs and less than full-time enrollment status.”