College Persistence Linked to Rigorous Courses and Academic Advising

New research suggests that if schools can figure out how to keep college freshman on track, the nation could be well on its path to meeting President Obama's 2020 goal of leading the world in producing college graduates.

A study released Thursday finds the answer is linked to higher levels of math in high school, more Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses, and good college advising. And those factors hold regardless of student's socioeconomic status.

The research by Kasey Klepfer and Jim Hull at the Center for Public Education at the National School Boards Association focused on freshman-to-sophomore persistence rates, since college students are more likely to drop out their first year than any other. And with graduation rates hovering around 58 percent at four-year colleges and 33 percent at community colleges, educators are eager to learn how to get more students to the finish line.

"High School Rigor and Good Advice: Setting up Students to Succeed" a nationally representative sample of more than 9,000 high school sophomores in 2002 through their second year in college, both two- and four-year institutions, and discovered three factors related to students' chances of success:

  1. High-level mathematics: Taking Pe-calculus, Calculus or math above Algebra II gave student from a high socioeconomic status (SES) a 10 percent better chance of persisting at a four-year college and improved the odds by 22 percent for those from a low SES.
  2. Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate courses: The study found the more of these courses a student took, the higher their persistence rates were. This was especially true for low-achieving and low-SES students. They got an 18 percent boost in success at four-year colleges and a 30 percent boost at two-year schools if they enrolled in these classes. "It is surprising that we find that simply taking an AP/IB course in any subject improved persistence in college, and that whether a student passes a test for that course isn't as important," the report noted.
  3. Academic advising: Talking to an academic adviser in college either "sometimes" or "often" significantly improved persistence rates as much as 53 percent for low-income students at four-year colleges and 43 percent at two-year schools.


Government eases student loan rules for Harvey victims

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Education Department is easing financial aid rules and procedures for those affected by Harvey.

The department is encouraging students whose financial needs have been altered by the storm to contact their school's financial aid office. The agency says in a statement that colleges and career schools will be allowed to use "professional judgment" to adjust a student's financial information in the aftermath of Harvey.

A school may even be able to waive certain paperwork requirements if documents were destroyed in the flooding.

The department says borrowers struggling to pay off loans because of Harvey should inform their loan servicers — and they've been directed to give borrowers flexibility in managing loan payments.

Special Report: Tuition spikes send higher education enrollment tumbling

A startling decline in U.S. college enrollment reflects growing doubts about the value of a degree at a time when tuition is surging, grads are strapped with crushing student loan debt and financial aid awards are shrinking.

The number of Americans enrolled in colleges and universities has dropped every year since 2011, to a low of 19.1 million in 2015, the most recent year tallied, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

That’s a full 1.2 million fewer students than were enrolled in 2011.


Practical Ways to Avoid For-Profit College Pitfalls

For-profit colleges are a part of everyday life. For many people they present a quick, but often expensive, way to avoid the traditional college system in favor of a "quick" and convenient degree. However, in many of these cases, nothing is really what it seems. From large costs to lack of accreditation, many of these institutions pray on students trying to graduate quickly and get a job leaving many of them in significant debt with a degree that is unaccredited and useless outside of the school. 

If you are considering a for-profit school, please take a look at this article to make sure you are asking the right questions and not being scammed. 

What is a "High Yield" University and Which Schools Have the Highest?

"Yield," in terms of higher education can be defined as the percentage of the admitted students that a college or university actually enrolls. Each year colleges admit a varied number of students, keeping in mind what their typical yield might be. In general higher-yield schools tend to be "first-choice" institutions for many of their admitted students. But which schools have the highest yield. Take a look at this US News & World Report article from this morning. Some of these first-choice schools just might surprise you.