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.