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Student Persistence

COVID-19 Changes and a Crusade Against Terrible Advising

Somehow, I missed The Chronicle of Higher Education article titled “A Crusade Against Terrible Advising” when it was published on August 4. According to Scott Carlson, senior reporter, the genesis of the article stemmed from several emails that he received from Dr. Ned Laff, a retired academic advisor whose advising experience included stints at nine different colleges and universities.

The Comeback Story: Why Adult Learners Return to College

New America, a think tank dedicated to confronting the challenges created by technology and social change and seizing those opportunities, released a report this week titled The Comeback Story. The report, authored by Hadass Sheffer, Iris Palmer, and Annette Mattei addresses the various ways that adults return to school to complete their degrees. The topic interests me a great deal as I spent the past 18 years leading American Public University System (APUS) to collaboratively find ways to improve the success of our working adult students.

Indispensable Institutions: Reimagining Community Colleges

Opportunity America, a Washington, DC think tank and policy shop, issued a report last week that reimagines the role of community colleges. The JPMorgan Chase Foundation and the Lumina Foundation sponsored the initiative, which included assembling a group of educators and policy makers across the U.S. in 2019. The group met with guest speakers to discuss the current status of community colleges and how they might adapt in line with the future changes in the workforce due to technology innovations.

A Simple Way to Equalize the Ivies?

In this week’s New York Times, Dana Goldstein and Anemona Hartocollis write about the difference in enrollments at the Ivy Plus (eight Ivy League universities plus Duke, Stanford, M.I.T., and the University of Chicago) institutions when students’ family incomes are considered. The source of the data for these reporters is a paper co-authored by economists Raj Chetty, John Friedman, Emmanuel Saez, Nicholas Turner, and Danny Yagan, Income Segregation and Intergenerational Mobility Across Colleges in the United States. The paper follows their 2017 research paper, Mobility Report Cards: The Role of Colleges in Intergenerational Mobility.

Commencement 2019: A Provost Takes Pride

Are you a fan of Commencement? Does hearing Pomp and Circumstance stir excitement and fond memories? Do you look for the most creative mortarboards with phrases like, “She did it!”, “I persisted!”, “Hi, Mom!” and the like? Do you like hearing the thoughts and advice shared by graduates and keynote speakers? If you're like me and happened to attend our recent Commencement, then you weren't disappointed.

Over 1,300 students walked across the stage during the ceremonies attended by some 7,000+ family members and friends along with our faculty and staff at the Gaylord at National Harbor. We publicly recognized them for obtaining a diploma as well as showing the grit, tenacity, hard work, and dedication to earn that diploma. These graduates represented but a fraction of the nearly 11,000 students who were conferred American Military University or American Public University degrees throughout the year. Some wore brightly colored stoles indicating special designations, such as being a first-generation student, their military service, and academic and student organization honors. In addition to being congratulated by me and our president Dr. Wally Boston, General Alfred M. Gray, Jr., 29th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps and President of our Board of Trustees, personally greeted every AMU student wearing their Class-A uniform.

Higher Ed: For Students, the Sum of the Parts May Be Greater than the Whole

It’s common knowledge among those of us researching student retention in online higher education that swirling (attendance by a student at multiple institutions) is much more prevalent with online, than on-ground, programs.  Some of the explanations offered include that it’s easier to switch from one online program to another and there’s less social integration among online students so less social stigma in leaving. Others posit that online students are much more savvy about reviewing courses at multiple institutions to enable them to build a richer collection of courses. Lastly, some note that the more frequent semester starts offered by online institutions makes it more conducive for students switching schools to accommodate their personal and work schedules, and to finish their program sooner. 

There Is Life after College

Jeff Selingo, author of College (Un)bound, recently released his latest book, a primer for parents of college-aged children. He maintains that today’s teenagers and young adults have many challenges ahead of them after college graduation and that it’s appropriate to start thinking about how to manage your career as soon as you finish high school. Selingo notes that the education system is out of sync with the economy and that college is a platform for lifelong learning that we will leave and return to whenever we need further education and training to get ahead in our existing job or to switch careers.