Adjunct faculty eye unionization

Tired of low wages and no job security, adjunct faculty are considering unionization. Colleges and universities rely heavily on adjuncts, who earn a fraction of the pay of tenured faculty.

Poll: Parents are cooler on college

Americans are less likely to say a college education is very important and less confident they can pay for it, according to the 2014 PDK/Gallup Poll.

Four years ago, 75 percent said college is very important. That’s down to 50 percent.

Only 13 percent believe a high school graduate is ready to start a career. But only 37 percent say college graduates are ready for the workforce.

In order of importance, Americans believe the most important factor in helping a high school student get a good job one day is: learning skills like dependability, persistence, and teamwork; having a mentor or adviser; earning a B or higher grade point average; and working on a real-world project that takes at least six months to complete. Performing well on standardized tests, such as the ACT and SAT, was rated lowest in importance for getting a good job.

“We were genuinely surprised by the divided response on the importance of college,” said William Bushaw, CEO of PDK. “Americans seem to be rethinking the idea that a college education is essential.”

By strong margins, those polled higher entrance requirements to education schools, more practice time for new teachers and board certification.

Universities welcome transfer surge

Universities are welcoming — and sometimes recruiting — transfer students as college costs persuade more people to start at community college.

Open-source textbooks lower costs

Free “open-source” textbooks are lowering students’ costs at a Virginia community college.

Free college — but will they graduate?

Tennessee, Oregon — and possibly Texas — are offering two free years at a community or technical college to high school graduates. But “Promise” programs are struggling to get unprepared students to complete college credentials.

40% of transfers lose all credits

More than a third of college students transfer, losing an average of 13 college credits, according to a new federal study. Nearly 40 percent of transfer students get no credit at all, losing nearly a full year of credits, on average. That costs them time and money.

Study: ‘Hybrid’ learning works in college

“Hybrid” or “blended” learning worked well for college students in a University of Maryland experiment. Students taught in the hybrid format earned similar grades and answered more exam questions correctly, compared to students in a traditional course.

In college courses, interactive online learning typically involves video lectures, extensive opportunities for discussion and interaction with instructors and peers, and online assignments and exams. Hybrid forms of such courses combine online learning components with traditional face-to-face instruction.

In this study, college students enrolled in hybrid sections of biology, statistics, pre-calculus, computer science, or communications or in sections that used the traditional face-to-face format.

Disadvantaged and underprepared student did as well in hybrid as in traditional classes.

Interactive online learning has the potential to lower college costs, the researchers believe.

Study: College beats 4 years chained to radiator

Despite rising college costs, a four-year college education is a better investment of time and money than being chained to a radiator in a dank, unlit basement, concludes a new study reported in The Onion.

“Compared to the intellectual stimulation and personal growth achieved in a university setting, there is less to be gained from 48 months in which one is tightly shackled about the ankle and connected by a short length of chain to a leaking, immovable cast-iron radiator,” read the report. 

However, the prisoner who’s freed after four years will not owe any money.

Which colleges raise graduates’ pay?

A new college-ranking system claims to show schools’ value in raising graduates’ earnings, reports Ed Week.

The California nonprofit Educate to Career and the data company Job Search Intelligence created the ETC College Ranking Index. It analyzes entering students’ SAT or ACT scores and socioeconomic background, their total college costs and their labor market outcomes. Elite colleges that recruit affluent, high-scoring students don’t rank high because their graduates would have done well in any case.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill tops the value list, followed by California State University-Los Angeles, the University of California-Merced and East Carolina University.

Some schools in the ETC’s top 10 have low graduation rates, but they make a difference for students who make it through.

Graduates’ earnings are a valid measure of college quality, argues Ben Miller on EdCentral.

Feds will test aid for competency programs

Hoping to speed older students to a degree, the U.S. Education Department will allow some colleges to award credit — and student aid — for competency and prior learning.