July 2019 - Chief Admissions Officers, College Regrets and Classroom Workings

July 26, 2019
  • Admissions
  • Research
  • Admissions
  • Chief Admissions Officer
  • Student persistence


Neither of the items I am sharing in the commentary this month are directly research related nor even related to each other but I found both to be interesting and I hope you do too.

Even though the Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS) has been offering students virtual internships in a variety of areas since 2010, I personally was not aware of it until I read an NPR Ed commentary on it this week. I thought I’d share in case you were not aware of the program either. The program offers 3,000 internships per year across 55 federal agencies including the Department of State and the National Park Service.

Insidetrack released a piece that includes tips on coaching and connecting through texts. This brief article gave examples of texting in action with a student whose identity has been anonymized. The examples were paired with related texting tips. I had not considered coaching via text as a solution and found this to be an interesting approach. 


AACRAO Research Update

The admissions operations report is about to go to our editor and should be released to the membership in the next couple of weeks. A data point from the survey reported that just 19% of institutions reported measuring demonstrated interest in the admissions process. However, among those that do, several variables are used (figure below).

The chief admissions officer (CAO) career profile survey closed recently. Included below are the roles and responsibilities identified as the most important in that role.  The report will be shared with the membership in the next few weeks.


The AACRAO Records and Transcript survey just closed and almost 800 institutions participated.  The report from this survey will be used to update the AACRAO Academic Records and Transcript Guide. This year, we asked whether or not a student’s preferred pronoun is collected and recorded in the SIS. Most do not collect and record a preferred pronoun.

AACRAO and WICHE are partnering to conduct a survey of prior learning assessment (PLA) practices as part of a larger WICHE/Lumina Foundation project on the recognition of learning. This survey will be deployed on August 8th. The survey will focus on process, policy, equity, and scalability associated with PLA. Details below: 

Theme: An examination of the permutations of institutional policies and practices which support or inhibit the application of PLA in an equitable manner.

Research Questions:

  • What are current institutional policies and practices on two-year and four-year campuses around tracking PL credits on student transcripts and institution information systems?

  • What are some challenges and successes institutions face in using data to improve PL policies and practices?

Approach: Deploy a comprehensive PLA survey to registrars. The survey contains both fixed and open-ended questions.

Equity concern: Whether the most common PLA pathways are more readily available to the least vulnerable students. If so, are there institutional efforts to expand PLA opportunities to a broader population of students?

Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

Recent Graduates Starting Salaries Remain Flat

The National Association of College and Employers reports that the starting salary for the class of 2018 is flat when compared to the class of 2017. The average starting salary for the class of 2018 based on actual starting salaries is $50,944. Computer science graduates have the highest annual starting salary this year and for the previous two years.

The Relationship between Reduced Loan Borrowing on Academic Performance and Default

Researchers conducted an experiment to evaluate a student borrowing outreach campaign designed to help students make informed borrowing decisions at a large community college. The results of the experiment support other recent research. Borrowing was found to improve student outcomes such as enrollment, credit completion and transfer.

College Regrets Among Bachelor’s Completers

In contrast to the study above, student loan debt was found to be the top regret for graduates in salary survey of 248,000 graduates completed by PayScale. Those who had completed a bachelor’s degree or higher listed selected their “biggest educational regret.” Two-thirds indicated they had a regret and were able to check one from a list. Of those, 27.1% selected student loans.  The data on regrets is displayed in an interactive chart and can be examined by highest degree earned, generation, major and school type.

Off-Task Technology Use in the Classroom

Researchers at the University of Waterloo completed a mixed-method analysis of faculty and student perspectives on off-task technology use. From the data, faculty were observed to use three different approaches to the subject (see Figure 1 from the paper below). While students felt that use of technology in this way falls under their personal autonomy even though it can be distracting.

Perspectives on the Use of Lecture Capture 

InsideHigherEd reviewed a paper published in Computers & Education about student and instructor perspectives on the use of lecture capture. More than half of instructors agreed that the use of lecture capture discouraged attendance. Students, on the other hand, like lecture capture and use it for multiple reasons including note taking, clarification, and test preparation.

20 Years of Top 10% Didn’t Increase Diversity

Analysts found that the Texas policy of opening the doors of the Texas elite universities to the top 10% of graduates from each high school did not increase diversity or increase the number of high schools that feed them.

Persistence and Retention

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center released their first-year persistence and retention report for the Fall 2017 cohort. The report site contains a number of links to disaggregated data by student and institutional characteristics.

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