April 2018 - Socioeconomic Paradigm Struggles for Low-Income Graduates of Elite Leagues

May 18, 2018
  • Research
  • Access and Equity
  • community college
  • Credit Hour
  • Freshmen Recruitment
  • GDPR
  • Transcripts
  • Transfer


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.
  • 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.

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