Testing college motivation

Colleges are trying out an online college readiness exam called SuccessNavigator that claims to measure motivation, self-management and “grit.”

Open-access colleges are under pressure to graduate more students while spending less. But completion-boosting strategies may not be cost effective and cost-cutting strategies may raise the cost per degree.

Also: It’s the learning, stupid.

 

Online completion gap is narrowing

Community college students are learning how to learn online — or perhaps the courses are improving. The completion gap is narrowing between online and traditional courses, according to a survey of community colleges. Nearly half of colleges said online students do just as well as students in face-to-face courses.

Colleges take transfers, deny credits

Some colleges demand transfers pay a non-refundable deposit before learning how many of their credits will be counted. It’s common for transfers to learn half their credits are useless.

Project Win-Win helped colleges boost their graduation rates by analyzing data bases to find students who’d completed degree requirements — or come close — but hadn’t received the degree.

Completion is an ‘ecosystem’ issue

Improving college graduation rates requires understanding the higher education “ecoosystem,” says the president of an award-winning community college. Students “swirl” between colleges and majors, dropping in and out and back in again.

Research “student pathways,” recommends a policy brief in The Changing Ecology of Higher Education series. The metaphor is gaining popularity.

Redesigning college aid — without spending more

A “more understandable effective and fair” student aid system doesn’t need to cost taxpayers more money, concludes a new report that calls for shifting funding and incentives to help needy students and encourage speedy completion of degrees.

Federal grants to college students should be replaced with grants to states, which would have to match the money, recommends another report.

‘BA blinders’ create barriers to success

When college for all means a bachelor’s degree or nothing, most “nontraditional” students will end up with nothing, concludes a policy brief, which calls for “removing BA blinders.”  Instead, community colleges should learn from for-profit career colleges, which offer structured job training, avoid unneeded remediation, develop career ladders, monitor students’ progress and place graduates in jobs — and have much higher completion rates.

Colleges and universities must adapt to the needs of nontraditional students to improve graduation rates, advises a national commission. The nontraditionals — working adults, part-timers, veterans — are the majority.

Gates: It’s completion, not costs

Completion is a bigger problem than rising college costs, argues Bill Gates.

Completion numbers are better than previously reported, according to a new analysis which tracks more students, including transfers,

College aid: Research, then reform

Pell Grants will go off a “funding cliff” in 2014. The federal college aid program needs to be reformed — but first research what’s working and what’s not, an analyst argues.

“Swirling” students who transfer multiple times may lose eligibility for Pell Grants under new time limits.

Aid tops tuition for community college students

While the “sticker price” at community colleges is up to $3,130, the average student receives more in grants, tax credits and other aid than tuition, leaving $1,220 for books, transportation and living expenses.

Community colleges are rethinking placement tests and looking for ways to start more students at the college level. About 60 percent of community college students are start in developmental education. Only 25 percent finish a credential in eight years, compared to 40 percent of students who start at the college level.

 

California CCs: Set a plan, get moving

California community colleges will give enrollment priority to students who set academic or vocational goals. “Professional students” who’ve attended for years without completing a credential will go to the end of the line and may be shut out of classes.

One district already is working to ensure high school graduates will have a place in college classes.