Archive for ‘colleges’

March 3, 2015

Lack of learning in college is a reason for poor job prospects

by Grace

Recent college graduates may not realize that a reason for their faltering careers could be because they have been “hamstrung by their lack of learning” in school.  But deciding how to assess what they learned in college is not straightforward.

A follow-up study from the authors of “Academically Adrift,” a book that showed how “many students experience ‘limited or no learning’” in college, tracked the same students into their lives after graduation.  As part of the original study , students had taken the Collegiate Learning Assessment (C.L.A.), “a test of critical thinking, analytic reasoning and communications skills”.

Even after statistically controlling for students’ sociodemographic characteristics, college majors and college selectivity, those who finished school with high C.L.A. scores were significantly less likely to be unemployed than those who had low C.L.A. scores. The difference was even larger when it came to success in the workplace. Low-C.L.A. graduates were twice as likely as high-C.L.A. graduates to lose their jobs between 2010 and 2011, suggesting that employers can tell who got a good college education and who didn’t. Low-C.L.A. graduates were also 50 percent more likely to end up in an unskilled occupation, and were less likely to be satisfied with their jobs.ge, they improved less than half of one standard deviation. For many, the results were much worse. One-third improved by less than a single point on a 100-point scale during four years of college.

The C.L.A. has gained the support of employers who say grades can be misleading and that they have grown skeptical of college credentials”.

Even as students spend more on tuition—and take on increasing debt to pay for it—they are earning diplomas whose value is harder to calculate. Studies show that grade-point averages, or GPAs, have been rising steadily for decades, but employers feel many new graduates aren’t prepared for the workforce.

Over a hundred colleges participate in CLA+, a test-based program that enables graduates to prove their skills to potential employers.  Some schools like California Polytechnic State University promote this test for its benefits to individual students, while other schools focus more on the CLA+ an assessment that shows the overall return on value they provide.

Purdue University President Mitch Daniels is in the middle of a battle having to do with the CLA+ at his school.

Two years into the job, Daniels has arrived at a major impasse with Purdue’s faculty: how to prove that students are actually learning something while at the university. Backed by Purdue’s Board of Trustees and inspired by the work of Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa (the authors of Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses) and others who argue that undergraduates aren’t learning crucial critical thinking skills, Daniels says the university must be accountable to students, parents, taxpayers and policy makers. He’s tasked a faculty body with choosing just how Purdue will assess gains in critical thinking and other skills after four years there, and he wants to start the assessment process soon — by the fall.

Purdue wants the student growth assessment “for the same reason that hundreds of other universities are already doing this — that research has shown that in some cases little to no intellectual growth occurs during the college years,” … “And the marketplace is saying emphatically that they find far too many college graduates lacking in critical thinking and communication skills and problem solving, etcetera.”

The CLA+ is not free of controversy.

… A 2013 study, for example, found that student performance on such tests varies widely based on motivation for taking the test. In other words, a student who has no reason to do well on the test might not take it seriously, and therefore can skew the results negatively for the institution. Others have questioned the appropriateness of basing assessment on small groups of students and whether the gains are likely to be notable at a university like Purdue that admits well-prepared students.

The most popular comment from the Purdue article made a good point.

Yes. It is time that universities and colleges follow the NCLB model on testing because it has worked so well….

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Kevin Carey, “The Economic Price of Colleges’ Failures”, New York Times, September 2, 2014.

Douglas Belkin, “Are You Ready for the Post-College SAT?”, Wall Street Journal, August 25, 2013.

Colleen Flaherty, “Test Anxiety”, Inside Higher Ed, January 28, 2015.

February 27, 2015

So you’re interested in a career in hotel and resort management?

by Grace

What is it like to manage a hotel, and what kind of background is needed for this career?

Here’s the story of a hotel manager who does not have a college degree, but who worked his way up from his first job as a valet.

I’m in my late twenties and I work at a major 150+ room hotel in a major city in Louisiana. My official title is “Operations Manager.” I’ve been working in hotels since 2007, first as a valet and bellman for two years at a 200 room corporately-owned resort in coastal Alabama, then at the front desk at a smaller independent hotel. After that I was a front desk agent at a 300 room corporate hotel in Dallas where I was promoted to front desk manager, and finally I moved to Louisiana a year ago. I started at my current hotel as front desk manager and was promoted to Operations Manager in a couple of months. I’ve been at this hotel for one year.

A college degree may be the preferred way to enter this field, but another way is through “a beastly work ethic”.

To get my first hotel job I just walked in and applied. It’s easy to get an entry level position. To be an Operations Manager, you usually need a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management/Business or, like me, a beastly work ethic, willingness to go above and beyond expectations, work long hours, and volunteer to take on tasks around the hotel that go outside of your job description.

A degree can offer specialization in various areas, including travel and tourism.

Hospitality management, or hospitality administration, is a large field with an array of majors. Depending on your interest and skills, you can pursue degrees centered on hotel management, travel and tourism, conference or event management, the restaurant industry and more. A course of study can cover everything from business to food science to botany, and internships and assistantships are typical components as well.

U.S. News offers information about hospitality management scholarships.

TheBestSchools.org* ranked hospitality management four-year college programs, including these top five:

  1. Cornell University, School of Hotel Administration
  2. Michigan State University, School of Hospitality Business
  3. University of Nevada at Las Vegas, William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration
  4. Fairleigh Dickinson University, International School of Hospitality and Tourism Management
  5. Virginia Tech, Pamplin College of Business, Dept. of Hospitality and Tourism Management

An associate’s degree in hospitality management is another way to prepare for a career in this field.

The bad news is that competition is tough for the best jobs.

Job growth in management positions is projected to show little or no growth over the next several years, even though growth in tourism and travel is predicted to be robust.  Like many other segments of the economy, the hospitality industry is streamlining operations, leading to scaled-back staffing.  Median salary in 2012 was $46,810.

In New York, SUNY at Delhi is a state school that offers a BBA Hospitality Management: Hotel and Resort Management.  Their students can participate in the Walt Disney College Program.

… Through this program, students work at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, for six months in a unique working/learning experience. Students can now earn SUNY Delhi course credit for the Disney courses offered as part of this program while they are working at Disney. Any student interested in this special program option should discuss it with his/her advisor early in their Delhi career. Disney courses include Communications, Leadership, Hospitality Management, Human Resources Management, Disney Marketing U, and Disney Experiential Learning.

It sounds like a good program for the right type of students, but I wonder if they are the target of jokes about their “Mickey Mouse” degree.

* ADDED:  Thebestcolleges.org doesn’t disclose its ranking method, but their list can be a starting place to find colleges that offer hospitality management major.  The College Board is another resource to use for finding and evaluating schools.

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Andy Orin, “Career Spotlight: What I Do as a Hotel Manager”, Lifehacker, January 20, 2015.

Matt Konrad, “Check Into These Hospitality Management Scholarships”, U.S. News, March 20, 2014.

January 16, 2015

Temple University automatic merit scholarships

by Grace

Temple University, a large, public college in urban Philadelphia ranked 121 on the US News list of National Universities, offers automatic merit scholarships based solely on grades and test scores.

The most generous award is the President’s Scholars, which offers full tuition plus $8,000 in stipends for approved “study abroad, research, internships or other summer academic activities”.  Freshmen qualify with the following criteria:

High-school GPA ≥ 3.8
SAT CR + Math ≥ 1420
ACT Composite score ≥ 32

Four other scholarships are available, as outlined in the table below.  About 40% of entering freshmen receive academic scholarships, and any student with a GPA of at least 3.0 and SAT score of 1150 will receive some level of merit aid.  2015 fall tuition and fees for a 12-hour semester at Temple University are $14,130 for Pennsylvania residents and $24,350 for out-of-state residents.

 

FALL 2015 FRESHMAN ACADEMIC SCHOLARSHIPS AT TEMPLE UNIVERSITY

20150115.COCTempleMeritAid2

 

January 2, 2015

This college guarantees graduates will get good-paying jobs

by Grace

20141230.COCAdrianCollege1Adrian College in Michigan will guarantee jobs for all its graduates.

… A new program guaranteeing every graduate would make more than $37,000, or get some or all student loans reimbursed.

It costs the college $1,165 per student to pay for this guarantee.

Adrian paid roughly $575,000 this year, or $1,165 per student, to take out policies on 495 students. For those who graduate and get a job that pays less than $20,000 a year, the college will make full monthly student loan payments until they make $37,000 a year. With a job that pays $20,000 to $37,000, the college makes payments on a sliding scale.

There’s no time limit for the payment plan but the college caps total loan payments at $70,000 per student. Adrian’s annual cost of tuition, room and board is about $40,000 before any forms of financial aid.

Let’s wait to see how this works out.

I suspect very few graduates will be able to prove their inability to get a job paying at least $20,000 annually.  Beyond that, the details could get murky.  Some graduates will benefit by gaining greater flexibility in the types of jobs they accept, but the fact is that many college graduates are finding it difficult to find jobs paying at least $37,000.  I wonder if one of the stipulations is graduation within four years.  That could rule out many prospective beneficiaries.

This guarantee does offer Adrian College good publicity now, but I will be interested to hear about the results of this scheme in four years.

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“Small college rolls out loan reimbursment program”, CNBC, Dec. 26, 2014.

September 23, 2014

Which colleges meet full financial need?

by Grace

Only 62 colleges will meet 100% of a student’s demonstrated financial need.

Schools that meet 100 percent of need can use a combination of loans, scholarships, grants and work-study to fill the gap between the cost of attendance – tuition, fees, room, board and other expenses – and the expected family contribution, a number determined by the information you provide on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, including tax data, assets and family size. ​

Of the 1,137 colleges and universities that submitted financial need data to U.S. News, just 62 of them cover full need.

Many of these schools rank high, with about one-third placing in the top 10 in their categories.

Among them are Princeton University and Williams College, ranked No. 1 among National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges, respectively.

Just three public schools are included on the list that meet full financial need.

  • University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill
  • University of Virginia
  • United States Merchant Marine Academy

Here’s an explanation of how “full financial need” is defined:

FULL-NEED SCHOOL — One that claims to meet the student’s full financial needs, defined as the Cost of Attendance (COA) minus the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). It is worth noting that many families are surprised to learn that the school’s determination of financial need is often lower than the family’s own assessment. Also, the school may decide that a loan “award” will be used to meet all or part of the student’s need.

The complete list of schools can be viewed at the U.S. News website.

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August 29, 2014

Beloit College goes test optional, hoping to attract more applicants

by Grace

Starting with the fall 2015 admission cycle, Beloit will become test optional, which means that the submission of standardized test scores (i.e. ACT/SAT) will be optional for domestic first-year applicants.

Statement from the vice president for enrollment, Robert Mirabile:

“Given the extremely competitive marketplace in which we recruit students, it is important for us to carefully weigh the costs and benefits of each part of our application,” Mirabile said. “From this perspective, I am concerned that the standardized test requirement adds little unique value to our selection process. Indeed, the requirement can, in some cases, inhibit access to Beloit among capable students who would greatly contribute to and benefit from the College.”

There are different ways to interpret the meaning of “contribute” as used in Mirabile’s statement.  The cost of attending Beloit College is $54,524 annually.  Here’s one cynical reaction to the announcement:

Translation: We’re so desperate, we’ll take anyone.

August 12, 2014

Interest in Ivy League schools continues to be strong

by Grace

20140731.COCIvyLeague2014Apps3

Despite a drop in applications at Dartmouth, Harvard and Columbia, overall interest in Ivy League schools continues to be strong.

The number of applications has risen steadily for over a decade (perhaps best shown HERE), so even small drops in applications won’t have a huge effect on admission rates at the Ivies. Harvard may have dropped 2% in the number of applicants, but their admit rate went from 5.79% last year to 5.90% this year, not a massive change. Columbia received 1.73% fewer applications from last year to this year, but the competition is not exactly wavering; their admit rate for the Class of 2017 was 6.89% and for the Class of 2018 was 6.95%. Want an even scarier number? Across all Ivy League universities plus MIT and Stanford last year 305,101 students applied and 26,758 were accepted (8.77% overall acceptance rate). This year? 313,981 students applied and 26,154 were accepted. So what’s that percentage tell us? It’s not easier to get in. 8.33% overall acceptance rate. Admissions is a numbers game and the numbers aren’t bending.

There seems to be a general consensus that even with the current downsizing trend in higher education, “elite colleges will continue to hold their value”.

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“Breaking Down the Numbers in Admissions”, Application Boot Camp, July 24th, 2014.

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August 5, 2014

Purdue University tries consolidating and streamlining to cut costs

by Grace

Purdue University president Mitch Daniels has been taking an aggressive stance in addressing high college costs, using “a combination of systemic cuts, organizational realignments and cash incentives”.  Of course, it is not an easy undertaking.

… criticism has come from both directions. Some think he is moving too fast, others not fast enough when it comes to cutting student costs.

Daniels faces many of the same challenges experienced by most other university presidents.

  1. Diminishing state funding, some of which was initiated while Daniels was governor of Indiana
  2. Administrative bloat. which has grown 75% over the last 13 years at Purdue

Consolidating and cost-shifting

Mr. Daniels says he is consolidating administrative jobs where prudent and leaving jobs unfilled where the duplication of effort makes that possible. He has jettisoned 10 university cars, consolidated hundreds of thousands of feet of off-campus rental storage and introduced a higher-deductible health-care plan.

Incentives to develop a three-year degree

He has also created two, half-million-dollar prizes for the first department that devises a three-year degree or a degree based on what a student already knows, not the number of hours he or she sits in a class. This summer, the school offered 200 more classes than last year in an effort to speed time to degree and generate more income for the school.

According to Daniels, there are ‘lots of opportunities” to cut costs’.

The problems are obvious and the ideas for solutions are plentiful, but can Purdue’s president lead the university to a successful implementation?

J. Paul Robinson, a former president of the faculty senate, said Mr. Daniels’s worth as a leader will be tied to his ability to prune that administrative bloat. “Let me put it this way,” Mr. Robinson said: “A blind man on a galloping horse at midnight with sunglasses on can see the problem. The question is, What can he do about it?”

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Douglas Belkin, “At Purdue, a Case Study in Cost Cuts”, Wall Street Journal, July 25, 2014 .

July 23, 2014

Sarah Lawrence College will rate itself on the value it provides students

by Grace

Sarah Lawrence College has developed a way to assess the value it offers its students.

… The faculty came up with six abilities they think every Sarah Lawrence graduate should have….

  1. Ability to think analytically about the material.
  2. Ability to express ideas effectively through written communication.
  3. Ability to exchange ideas effectively through oral communication.
  4. Ability to bring innovation to the work.
  5. Ability to envisage and carry through a project independently, with appropriate guidance.
  6. Ability to accept and act on critique to improve work.

These measures serve as an antidote to the Obama administration’s upcoming rating system, which will measure things like cost, graduation rates, and salaries of graduates.  Obama’s new system has generated controversy, particularly since poor scores could mean the loss of federal financial aid.

Sarah Lawrence developed a “web-based assessment platform, designed to measure student performance against these critical abilities”.  Advisors meet regularly with students to evaluate their progress.

20140718.COCSarahLawrenceCriticalAbilities
Students can learn if they’re getting “their money’s worth”.

That’s a different measure of the value of an education than, say, student loan debt or earnings after graduation — the sorts of things the Obama administration is considering as part of its ratings plan. Students and parents are right to ask if they’re getting their money’s worth, says the college’s president, Karen Lawrence. After financial aid, the average cost of a Sarah Lawrence education is almost $43,000 a year.

“People are worried about cost,” Lawrence says. “We understand that.”

And they’re worried about getting jobs after graduation. But she says the abilities that the new assessment measures—critical thinking and innovation and collaboration—are the same ones employers say they’re looking for.

I have a feeling every Sarah Lawrence graduate will be rated highly.

The idea behind Sarah Lawrence’s assessment is laudable, but I must say I’m a bit skeptical about the way they measure student performance.  Shouldn’t they have an objective third party doing the assessment?

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Amy Scott, “What do students actually learn in college?”, Marketplace, April 22, 2014.

May 21, 2014

Apply now for the New York State STEM full-tuition scholarship

by Grace

The deadline to apply for the newly introduced New York State STEM scholarship is August 14.

The NYS STEM Incentive Program provides a full SUNY or CUNY tuition scholarship for the top 10 percent of students in each New York State high school if they pursue a STEM degree in an associates or bachelor degree program and agree to work in a STEM field in New York State for 5 years after graduation.

The dual goals of the program include helping students pursue STEM careers and promoting the state’s economy.

Innovative programs like the STEM Incentive Awards will help students compete in academic fields essential to the future of our state and nation,” said CUNY Interim Chancellor William P. Kelly.

“Through this program, New York State is helping to foster a connection between a student’s interest in STEM and their ability to successfully pursue a STEM career,” said Elsa Magee, Acting President of New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC), the state agency that will administer the program. “These awards will encourage more of our most talented students to pursue their love of science, technology, engineering and math in New York State, which benefits our State economy directly and the global economy, generally.”

Failing to fulfill the program requirements can result in significant penalties.  For example, if a recipient does not complete the STEM degree or does not follow through after graduation on the requirement to work “full-time for five years in the fields of science, technology, engineering, or math in New York State, while maintaining residency within the State”, he must pay back the award.

The full list of approved occupations includes farmers, computer programmers, web developers, actuaries, cartographers, engineers, and secondary and postsecondary science teachers.

There does seem to be some flexibility in the choice of occupations.

20140518.COCNYSSTEMScholarshipFarmer1

Related:  “Free tuition at New York state universities for top STEM students?” (Cost of College)

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 Sarah Darville, “State launches STEM scholarship for SUNY, CUNY-bound grads”, Chalkbeat New York, May 6, 2014.

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