May 2019 - Shifting financial aid, the future of college graduates and more

May 28, 2019
  • Institutional Research
  • admissions requirements
  • non-degree
  • pathways
  • STEM
  • Student Success

AACRAO Eye on Research May 2019


An opinion piece in InsideHigherEd caught my attention for being insightful and summative about how to go about establishing data analytics at your institution.  Rather than repeating what Darren Catalano, the CEO of Heliocampus, recommends on the topic please see this link.

Another piece I found interesting was an interactive graphic comparing graduation rates of 368 colleges by the New York Times.  They arranged the colleges by “what they would expect their graduation rates to be, based on the average for college with similar student bodies.”

AACRAO Research Update

The AACRAO/NACAC undergraduate first-year admissions operations survey has closed and it received a representative sample of U.S. institutions.  A report based on this survey will be available in the next month. Included below is a quick peek at the results to a question about what admissions materials are: required; supplemental and highly encouraged; supplemental, accepted and used in the decision process but not encouraged; or none of these.  

*preliminary results – final results may vary

The Chief Admissions Officer career profile survey will be deployed in early June. Followed by the comprehensive academic records and transcript guide in July.  The WICHE sponsored research on prior learning will include a survey deployed in August. The results of which will be summarized for WICHE and included in their comprehensive project report.

The 60-Second Surveys will resume in September with a look at fresh electronic transcript practices.  November’s survey will focus on territory management.

Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

Going Back to College after Completing a Credential

A new Data Point from NCES highlights that six percent of college students already held a bachelor’s degree or higher and 12 percent held an associates (see Figure 1 from the report below).  Health related study is the most common field among those who already hold a bachelor’s degree.

Replicating a STEM program for Underrepresented Students

An article in Education Dive reports that the pioneering Meyerhoff Scholars Program, created at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) has been successfully replicated by Penn State and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC)

  • UMBC partnered with Penn State and UNC in 2014 to determine whether the program's success could be replicated.

  • 67% of students in UNC's program and 80% in Penn State's program graduated within four years.

  • 21% of UNC's cohort and 50% of Penn State's cohort went on to a doctoral program.

Focus on College Attendance and Success

MDRC has released a report presenting findings from MDRC’s randomized controlled trial evaluation of the Detroit Promise Path. This program was designed to encourage college attendance and success among underserved students in Detroit, Michigan. Students were incentivized financially to attend coaching sessions before and through their first year of college. The full report is available here.

Growth in Postsecondary Enrollment Among Low-income Families and Students of Color

The Pew Research Center found that the enrollment growth in post-secondary education is “fueled almost exclusively by an influx of student from low-income families and students of color.”  These students are predominantly enrolling in public two-year colleges and the least selective four-year institutions (see figure from report below).

NCES The Condition of Education 2019 Report

The just released The Condition of Education 2019 report from NCES contains a comprehensive examination of education in the U.S. from K-12 through post-secondary.  The “At a Glance” section is easy to use and a nice way to access vast amounts of summarized data for post-secondary education in the U.S.

New Study Proposes Better Pathways to College

A Kaplan University Partners study, “Destination College: Exploring New Routes to Success,” is based on an in-depth survey of parents’ attitudes about higher education, work, and a potential new way colleges could help students meet shifting workplace and skills needs. Key findings about parental attitudes are:

  • College’s role is teaching marketable skills

    • 79% of parents say college’s role is to teach students marketable skills.

    • 78% say it is a time to develop interpersonal and social skills.

  • Higher Education’s effectiveness is under scrutiny

    • Only 47% of parents feel colleges are doing a good job preparing students for the workplace.

    • 57% question whether college costs justify the value of a degree.

  • Work is best way to learn skills and find purpose

    • 85-90% of parents say work will help their children to learn, grow personally, and find a life purpose.

    • 57% believe the best college education includes internships.

  • Full-time “work and study” proposal has broad appeal

    • 74% of parents would consider placing their children in a program in which employers hire talented students directly out of high school for full-time, paid jobs while they simultaneously pursue a bachelor’s degree.

Evidence-based Practice for Leveraging Learning Technology

A new What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) practice guide “Using Technology to Support Postsecondary Student Learning: A Practice Guide for College and University Administrators, Advisors, and Faculty” has been released. It presents five major recommendations for using technology in practice, the level of evidence supporting each, and shows the methods used to determine these evidence ratings. Three of the strategies have what the authors deemed moderate evidence supporting them:

  • Use varied, personalized, and readily available digital resources to design and deliver instructional content.

  • Incorporate technology that models and fosters self-regulated learning strategies.

  • Use technology to provide timely and targeted feedback on student performance.

Non-degree Credentials have a Positive Impact on Economic Mobility

A report released by Strada Education Network and the Lumina Foundation offers early evidence that short-term, non-degree certificates and other credentials can have a positive impact on an individual's economic mobility. Key findings include:

  • Adults with a certificate or certification but no degree are employed full time at a higher rate (85%) than those with no credentials (78%).

  • The former also reported a higher annual median income of $45,000, versus $30,000 for those without a certificate or certification.

  • Men and women benefited roughly the same from non-degree credentials in terms of full-time employment, though the resulting income premium was "considerably larger" for men.

Research Findings Counter Concerns over Shifting Financial Aid

The American Enterprise Institute has released a new report on the concern that institutions are shifting their financial aid budgets to favor students from high-income families. The study used a comprehensive approach looking at tuition and spending per student. The research contradicted the policy concern, showing low-income student subsidies have increased relative to high-income students. Key points include

  • Higher education advocates fear that increases in merit aid scholarships to high-income students will leave less financial aid for low-income families.

  • However, institutions can simultaneously inflate tuition prices and then offer grants, discounts, or scholarships back to students selectively - meaning merit aid scholarships could be nothing more than a notional discount.

  • The study found no evidence that the total financial aid that public and private nonprofit institutions provide to high-income students has increased, relative to low-income student aid.

  • It also found that the share of total financial aid that institutions provided to their low-income students increased between the 2003–04 and 2015–16 academic years.

Leveraging Data Important, but Challenging

Watermark has released the results of a survey of stakeholders in higher education aimed at discovering ways institutions were using data and technology to enhance student and institutional outcomes. The survey found that stakeholders agreed that significant barriers exist to utilizing data. Key points include:

  • The missed opportunities disconnected data can cause

  • The importance of managing large volumes of data coming from disparate systems

  • Why better collaboration among individual stakeholders is vital to improving the use of data.

  • Why educational intelligence is part of the solution

College Graduates Optimistic about the Future

The first Cengage Student Opportunity Index measured the employment and economic opportunities for graduates using public data and a survey of 2,500 recent and upcoming graduates. Categories measured included economic, employment, social and personal well-being. The Index is intended to be ongoing to track this data over time. Download the infographic here. Some key points include:

  • 82% of graduates surveyed say they are optimistic despite high student loan debt and housing costs.

  • 93 % think they’ll land a job related to their educational background within 6 months of graduating; however, only 60 percent do.

  • 51 % have student loan debt, and among those the average amount is $22,919.

  • 65 % of respondents say they will have to relocate to afford a house.

  • 66% are satisfied with their physical health, though 62% have had difficulty covering a healthcare expense.

  • Just 36 % of recent and upcoming grads believe the country is headed in the right direction, and 48% believe it is headed in the wrong direction.

New SHEEO Report - Quality Assurance and Improvement in Higher Education: The Role of the States

SHEEO released a comprehensive analysis of current quality assurance and improvement practices, challenges and limitations for state and system levels of higher education.  They concluded that there is a lack of consensus around what quality means and other limitations to generalizability. However, they authors do make the following recommendations based on the research.

  • “Arrive at widely agreed upon understanding of quality.”

  • “Develop a greater understanding among all relevant actors of the state’s interest and role in educational quality.”

  • “Identify best practices in quality assurance.”

  • “Make program review and state authorization meaningful quality assurance processes.”

  • “Treat equity as a quality consideration.”

  • “Actively engage faculty and institutional leaders.”

  • “Invest in data, tools and people.”

  • “Open lines of communication and real partnership between members of the triad.”

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