Posts tagged ‘University of Virginia’

November 15, 2012

Virginia offers guaranteed admissions to universities for certain community college graduates

by Grace

One commonly recommended option for cutting college costs is to attend two years of community college before finishing up at a four-year school.  This option is even more attractive in those cases where colleges and universities offer guaranteed admission to graduates of selected community colleges.  Virginia is one place where this occurs.

Virginia’s community colleges offer students more than the opportunity to earn a degree or certificate. They provide a gateway to the Commonwealth’s four-year colleges and universities.

Through system-wide agreements, students who graduate from one of Virginias 23 community colleges with an associate’s degree and a minimum grade point average may obtain GUARANTEED admission to more than 20 of the commonwealth’s colleges and universities.

A student wishing to attend the University of Virginia, a selective school with a 33% admission rate and ranked #24 among national universities by US News & World Report, could save thousands of dollars and secure guaranteed admission by completing his first two years at Northern Virginia Community College.  The agreement between the two schools stipulates the following:

At least 54.0 credits from Northern Virginia Community College
At least 45.0 credits must be completed at University of Virginia
A cumulative GPA at Northern Virginia Community College of at least 3.4
No grade below a C in any Northern Virginia Community College course

The estimated cost savings over four years would be about $40,000
, assuming the student lived at home for the first two years.  Guaranteed admission to a selective university along with the savings make this a very attractive option.

Other locations have similar programs.  The UMass Amherst Community College Connection offers guaranteed admission for community college graduates who meet certain criteria, including a  cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher.  The  California State University system gives priority admissions to community college graduates, but waiting lists have recently made this option less secure.  The University of California Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) has also been affected by funding that has failed to keep up with enrollment, even leading to the termination of the program at UC San Diego.

Advice for students considering first enrolling at a community college as a way to save money on their bachelor’s degree?  Do your research, including this recommendation from CNNMoney:
Ask the community college if they have any guaranteed transfer programs to four-year universities and what course and grade requirements you must meet to qualify. If they don’t have guaranteed programs, ask which universities have “articulation agreements” that will at least give you some guaranteed credits.
October 22, 2012

New web tool shows salary data broken out by college and major

by Grace

CollegeMeasures. org has a new web tool that allows you to compare salaries of recent college graduates, “with data that is broken out by college and major”.  College applicants making decisions about schools and fields of study should find this data helpful.

For example, a bachelor’s degree-holder from George Mason University who majored in computer engineering can expect to earn $59,000 in his or her first year after graduation, according to the College Measures website, which is 56 percent more than the state average in that discipline. On the other side of the earnings scale, the average George Mason graduate who studied biology earns $32,000, still 15 percent more than peers from other Virginia colleges.

So far, this resource is only available for colleges in Arkansas, Tennessee, and Virginia, but plans to add more states are in the works.

CollegeMeasures.org 

Choice of college makes a difference.

I spent some time looking at various salary comparisons, imagining myself as the parent of a kid in the process of applying to college.  The data shows that for a mechanical engineering degree there was not a huge difference in salary outcomes among the various colleges, ranging from $53,441 to $50,917.  However, salaries of graduates from several different electrical engineering tech programs showed substantial differences, ranging from $42,223 to $25,141.  This is good stuff to know.

For graduates with a bachelor’s degree in economics the average salary was $39,298.  But the range was signficant, from $42,895 at the University of Virginia to $29,532 at Radford University.  Similar differences were reported for business majors, depending on the specific areas of study and on the schools.

Choice of major makes a difference.

Comparing associate’s degree programs at Northern Virginia Community College, the data averages showed that dental hygienists earned over $59,000 their first year after graduation and radiographers earned about $46,000, but childcare workers only made about $32,000.  Meanwhile, EMT Paramedic graduates earned almost $60,000.  While other factors besides yearly salary, such as hours worked and previous experience/age of graduate, must be taken into account when making comparisons, this basic salary data is a good starting point.

The individual student makes a difference,

Students, with varying interests, strengths, and levels of persistence self-select themselves to particular schools and majors.  For example, a student who lacks the skills to pursue a rigorous quantitative-based major at a top-ranked college has already established the groundwork for the path to particular areas of employment and salary.  Within any given field of study, a person who works hard and is strongly motivated by financial success will usually do better than a slacker.

Some shortcomings of the web tool

  • Only first-year salary data is available, which fails to capture long-term earnings potential.  (How will the salaries of the dental hygienist and the engineer compare in 10 or 20 years?)
  • Only graduates employed in that state are included.
  • Data for federal employees and members of the military is excluded.

Even with these shortcomings, checking this website could be a valuable wake-up call for students  unaware of the consequences of taking on large student debt.

Related:  College ROI results by PayScale for Bloomberg Businessweek (Cost of College)

July 24, 2012

Coursera expands with a dozen major research universities – credit for classes

by Grace

Coursera, an online learning company offering free massive open online courses ( MOOCs), is adding a dozen major reasearch universities to its existing group of Michigan, Princeton, Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania.

Now, the partners will include the California Institute of Technology; Duke University; the Georgia Institute of Technology; Johns Hopkins University; Rice University; the University of California, San Francisco; the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; the University of Washington; and the University of Virginia, where the debate over online education was cited in last’s month’s ousting — quickly overturned — of its president, Teresa A. Sullivan. Foreign partners include the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, the University of Toronto and EPF Lausanne, a technical university in Switzerland.

And some of them will offer credit.

Schools feel pressured to participate.

“This is the tsunami,” said Richard A. DeMillo, the director of the Center for 21st Century Universities at Georgia Tech. “It’s all so new that everyone’s feeling their way around, but the potential upside for this experiment is so big that it’s hard for me to imagine any large research university that wouldn’t want to be involved.”

It is still experimental and unproven.

But even Mr. Thrun, a master of MOOCs, cautioned that for all their promise, the courses are still experimental. “I think we are rushing this a little bit,” he said. “I haven’t seen a single study showing that online learning is as good as other learning.”

The University of Washington, ranked 42 on US News list of national universities, will offer credit.

So far, MOOCs have offered no credit, just a “statement of accomplishment” and a grade. But the University of Washington said it planned to offer credit for its Coursera offerings this fall, and other online ventures are also moving in that direction. David P. Szatmary, the university’s vice provost, said that to earn credit, students would probably have to pay a fee, do extra assignments and work with an instructor.

Most MOOC students are from overseas, but if more top universities began to offer course credits toward a degree more U.S. students may become interested.  Online cheating and grading are among the thorny issues.

An alternative to a traditional college degree for some?

“There’s talk about how online education’s going to wipe out universities, but a lot of what we do on campus is help people transition from 18 to 22, and that is a complicated thing,” said Mr. Page, the Michigan professor, adding that MOOCs would be most helpful to “people 22 to 102, international students and smart retired people.”

Eventually, Ms. Koller said, students may be able to enroll in a set of MOOCs and emerge with something that would serve almost the same function as a traditional diploma.

“We’re not planning to become a higher-education institution that offers degrees,” she said, “but we are interested in what can be done with these informal types of certification.

Related:

October 28, 2011

Net Price Calculator – a helpful first step in the college search

by Grace

Starting October 29, all colleges are required to provide a Net Price Calculator (NPC) showing the ‘net price’ (defined as tuition, fees and indirect expenses minus grant and scholarship aid) for individual students based on their personal status.   For more details you can go here.

I created three fictional student profiles and ran them through the calculations of a dozen colleges.  In all three cases the student was a top scholar with high test scores who resides in New York State.  The only difference between the three profiles was the family’s financial situation.  The earned income for the three different families were $50,000 (low), $80,000 (medium), and $150,000 (high).  Here are the net Cost of Attendance (COA) results.  [UPDATE:  Harvard figures have been updated to correct a mistake.]

Some initial observations:

  • A low- to middle-income student enjoys a tremendous bargain at many top-ten schools, if he is admitted.  With acceptance rates in the single digits for some of these schools, that’s a big “IF”.
  • At most schools ranked below top ten, a low-income student will pay at least $20,000 a year to attend.  (Note that all these were out-of-state schools for our fictional student.  I plan to run in-state examples later.)
  • Quick comparisons can be made based on NPC results.  For example, with similar COA figures, it appears that UVA offers more need-based aid for low-income students than Denison does.  The detailed report generated as part of the NPC confirms this, indicating the next step might be a request for more detailed information from the college admissions staff.
  • Merit scholarships may be the biggest unknown factor.  I would be careful about relying on NPC figures for this, even for schools that explicitly state that they include merit in their calculations.  Further research will usually be required.

Bottom line:  Families should run NPC reports for all schools on a student’s initial list as a useful first step in comparing affordability among the various options.

* CHART EXPLANATION:
….•  Rank:  USNWR ranking; NR = not ranked nationally
….•  COA:  Cost of Attendance
….•  Net COA:  Income Categories are Low = $50,000; Med = $80,000, High = $150,000
….•  Merit Aid:
……….1 – NPC does not consider merit aid.
……….2 – NPC considers at least some merit aid.
……….3 – Unclear if merit aid is considered.
……….4 – School does not offer merit aid.

** This NPC non-resident COA is at odds with the information on the college website.  According to the UNM website, it appears the NPC COA should be increased by approximately $13,000 a year.  Since it’s unknown how that change would affect the net price, I would consider all these UNM numbers to be unreliable.

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