November 2016 - Michelle Obama's "Up Next" Project

November 21, 2016
  • Research
  • SEM Conference


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.

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