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Higher Education Goes Digital, Deepening Student Engagement

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The current generation of digitally savvy students have been passively trained by years of social media, e-commerce and online entertainment to expect a high-level user experience in all their digital interactions, with no exception for their educational institutions.

In higher education, there are two categories relevant to digital transformation. The first relates to engagement, where what is known about a student is utilized to deliver relevant communications at the right time, in the right manner. Ideally that can be done across a number of channels, depending on the context, including chatbots, text messages, emails, mobile apps and more. The second category enables the first: a foundation of data where student information—gleaned through website clicks and visits, academic performance tracking as well as other sources—can be used to determine how and when that communication should occur.

A recent Forbes Insights executive brief, “Rising to the Challenge: Digital Transformation and Student Engagement in Higher Education,” sponsored by Pitney Bowes, touches on both categories and outlines practical examples of their application to improve the student experience.

Many educational institutions are now turning to customer experience firms to map the student journey and life cycle. That allows them to zero in on the moments when they can support student needs digitally by providing relevant information, and therefore deepen engagement. (Read More...)

The Ethos of the Overinvolved Parent

Christina O'Connor / AP

Christina O'Connor / AP

Authored by

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Stacy G.’s daughter was having a meltdown. Her daughter, a sophomore at a prestigious private college, wanted an internship at Boston Children’s Hospital, a plum job that would look great on her applications to graduate school. After four weeks of frantically waiting for the school to arrange for an interview at the hospital, Stacy called her daughter’s adviser at the internships office to complain.

“For $65,000 [in full attendance costs], you can bet your sweet ass that I’m calling that school ... If your children aren’t getting what they’ve been promised, colleges are going to get that phone call from parents,” Stacy said. “It’s my money. It’s a lot of money. We did try to have her handle it on her own, but when it didn’t work out, I called them.”

Whether Stacy is representative of the majority of parents of students at four-year, selective colleges or a member of the dreaded “helicopter parents” club, there are enough parents like her to have spawned a small industry of self-helpbooks on the subject, research papers, and even a new cellphone app. Checking in with their children daily and occasionally contacting school administrators, a contingent of parents of students at these schools has stepped up its involvement levels in recent years, sources told me, because of technology, employment concerns, and the high price of college. And colleges themselves have responded by creating new channels to communicate with parents.

Laura Hamilton, an associate professor of sociology at the University of California, Merced, began studying a group of college women and their families back in 2004, embedding herself in the dormitory of a midwestern college and later writing about her qualitative research in two books, Paying for the Party and Parenting to a Degree. As Hamilton explained in a 2016 Atlantic article adapted from the latter book, involvement by the parents varied. Some parents, often those without college experience themselves, had a hands-off approach to their kids’ higher education, while other parents were more involved. Among the most highly involved parents, some helped their kids navigate the school bureaucracy so they could later enter into graduate programs or a solid entry-level job requiring a degree. Others were highly involved with their daughters’ social lives, assuring that they were well-positioned to find wealthy husbands. “The Mrs. degree is alive and well,” Hamilton told me. (Read More...)

The 5 Biggest Higher Education Tech Trends in 2016

Authored by Meghan Bogardus Cortez

EdTech

This year was ripe for higher ed innovation. Just take a look at coverage from EDUCAUSE, which highlights the trends that have flourished in 2016. Colleges across the country have transformed learning spaces, advanced their libraries technologically, and bolstered campus security.

Along with increases in cloud adoption, the rise of virtual reality and stronger cybersecurity programs, here’s a look back at the biggest higher ed tech trends of 2016.

1. Understanding the Power of Data

This year, data has been a huge factor for a lot of industries, higher education included. Tech decision-makers on a number of campuses have started to examine where data might fit into daily operations.

Data has also powered some significant positive changes across campuses. At Middle Tennessee State Universitypredictive analytics fueled by student data have helped advisors to bring their retention rate up to 95 percent.

University of Maryland University College has made analytics an integral part of their operations, and because of it they could reduce marketing spending by 20 percent.

It turns out students actually don’t mind that universities are collecting more information on them than ever before. Ninety-eight percent of student respondents to an Ellucian survey said they want their schools to use their personal information to improve the overall college experience.

A KPMG survey found that 41 percent of universities were using data for forecasting and predictive analytics. This number is only expected to rise next year, with EDUCAUSE naming data-informed decision-making and predictive analytics to improve student success to their 2017 Top IT Issues list. (Read More...)

Talent and Technology Are Keys to Higher Ed Success

Authored by Joanna Young

EdTech

The list of challenges facing higher education is long: At the top are state disinvestment, increasing competition for research dollars, price pressure, Title IX and new market entrants. Yet our economy depends on the success of higher ed institutions; a well-educated workforce is critical to the U.S. economy.

Our industry is poised to see a wave of integrations and closures. Moody’s predicts a tripling of college closures in coming years. Generally, the smaller the institution and the endowment, the more susceptible the college. The largest and most well-endowed institutions may feel immune, thinking they are “too big to fail.” Yet in reality, in the digital economy, no institution is immune. Leaders and boards of directors should plan today for how to transform themselves tomorrow.

The Competition Is On

Reliance on net tuition remains high, averaging more than 45 percent nationwide, 10 percent higher than during the most recent recession. Tuition is rising at rates of 7 to 8 percent, well above the inflation rate. Competition for students is increasing. In many regions (for example, the Midwest and Northeast), the number of high school graduates is declining, and many public institutions are competing for out-of-state and international students, who pay more and thus subsidize in-state students. This combination presents a challenge.

To perform well in the face of such challenges, institutions need to invest deliberately and heavily in two things: talent and technology. In particular, “top 100” institutions that pride themselves on quality of education and research should have quality of technology and talent to match.

(Read More...)

Things I Wish I Knew Senior Year of College

PAUL BRADBURY VIA GETTY IMAGES

PAUL BRADBURY VIA GETTY IMAGES

Authored by Samantha Matt

I was so naive and entitled during senior year of college. I thought I was on top of the world. All of my friends lived within walking distance of me, so I had someone to hang out with at all times. I could finally legally go to bars, so go out an average of four times a week I did. I was taking classes I was actually interested in, so my grades were pretty decent without having to try. And I already had completed four internships, so I figured my resume was basically set to score me a job after graduation no matter what. I was walking on air. I thought I was great. I thought I was awesome. I thought I was special. Little did I know I was in for a wake up call that was going to rock my little universe. That wake up call being the real world.

My conceited attitude about myself quickly changed when I moved back home, far away from all my friends, and started to get rejected by job after job. Eight months after graduation, I was finally offered my first job. It took eight months. At that very moment, I realized that I wasn’t special. The life I was living then was not the life I had pictured for myself post-college eight months prior. I knew I was going to have to put myself out there and gain a hell of a lot more experience (which I honestly thought I had at age 22) to be successful in the future.

Now, I probably could have sped up this thought process a bit if my senior year self was aware of a few things. Here are 11 things I wish I knew in college:

1. Network, network, network. Networking is like life. It might be awkward, but you have to deal with it... and it never gets any easier. The more out of college you are, the less of a chance you’ll have to talk to prominent people in your industry. Read More...

 

Importance of Mentors in College

Authored by Brandon Busteed

A few months after Gallup released findings from the largest representative study of U.S. college graduates, there is much to ponder. The Gallup-Purdue Index surveyed more than 30,000 graduates to find out whether they are engaged in their work and thriving in their overall well-being. In simple terms, did they end up with great jobs and great lives?

We learned some stunning things. But one of the most important is that where you went to college matters less to your work life and well-being after graduation than how you went to college. Feeling supported and having deep learning experiences during college means everything when it comes to long-term outcomes after college. Unfortunately, not many graduates receive a key element of that support while in college: having a mentor. And this is perhaps the biggest blown opportunity in the history of higher ed.

Six critical elements during college jumped off the pages of our research as being strongly linked to long-term success in work and life after graduation. Three of these elements relate to experiential and deep learning: having an internship or job where students were able to apply what they were learning in the classroom, being actively involved in extracurricular activities and organizations, and working on projects that took a semester or more to complete.

But the three most potent elements linked to long-term success for college grads relate to emotional support: feeling that they had a professor who made them excited about learning, that the professors at their alma mater cared about them as a person, and that they had a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams. If graduates strongly agree with these three things, it doubles the odds they are engaged in their work and thriving in their overall well-being. Read More...

Social Network Effects in Hiring

Photograph by Nancy Rothstein

Photograph by Nancy Rothstein

Authored by Laura Geller

Authored by Laura Geller

Job seekers are keenly aware that who they know matters. A contact at a prospective employer can push a resume to the top of the pile, put in a good word, or arrange an introductory lunch. Companies, for their part, are happy to oblige. Employee referrals help them cut through the noise, target searches, and save money.

Social networks play a positive role in the hiring process. But what can these useful connections tell us about performance on the job? Does the advantage of knowing someone carry over once an individual joins a firm? Adina Sterling has been asking these questions since transitioning from engineer to academic nearly a decade ago. Sterling had spent five years with Procter & Gamble’s global baby care and beauty care R&D teams before leaving to pursue a Ph.D. in organization and management. She joined the faculty of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business as an assistant professor in the fall of 2015. Read More...

CalArts Continues Its Divestment From Fossil Fuels

CalArts continues to divest from fossil fuel industries

CalArts continues to divest from fossil fuel industries

Authored

Authored

For the past few years, CalArts President Steven D. Lavine and Chief Financial Officer Don Matthewson have engaged in discussions with the Investment Sub-Committee of CalArts’ Board of Trustees, the Student Union on behalf of the student body, as well as interested faculty and staff, on ways to minimize the Institute’s exposure to fossil fuel companies in its investment portfolio.

Last December, CalArts’ administration announced a plan of action that included both long- and short-term strategies for reduction in such companies, including the revision of CalArts’ Investment Policy Statement, which reflects the importance of considering environmental, social and governance factors before making investment decisions. Read More...

Fulfilling Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream: the Role for Higher Education

Who is responsible for today’s campus troubles? Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Who is responsible for today’s campus troubles? Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Authored by Roland V. Anglin, Director, The Joseph C. Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Studies, Rutgers University NewarkDavid D. Troutt, Professor of Law and Justice John J Francis Scholar, Rutgers University NewarkElise Boddie, Associate Professor of Law, Rutgers University NewarkNancy Cantor, Chancellor, Rutgers University Newark and Peter Englot, Senior Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs, Rutgers University Newark.

Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote “Why We Can’t Wait” to dispel the notion that African Americans should be content to proceed on an incremental course toward full equality under the law and in the wider society. King observed,

Three hundred years of humiliation, abuse and deprivation cannot be expected to find voice in a whisper.

Yet waiting and whispering, rather than raising their voices for genuine inclusion, is what many seem to expect of the children and grandchildren of King’s generation even today.

At stake is the perceived legitimacy of American institutions, not just educational but those that we educate for. Read More...

 

At UC San Diego, retired professors are mentoring first-generation college students

A mentoring program can provide crucial support to students. JD Lasica, CC BY-NC

A mentoring program can provide crucial support to students. JD Lasica, CC BY-NC

Authored by Melvin Green, Professor Emeritus Biology, University of California, San Diego

My mother cried when I told her I was changing my major from engineering to chemistry. Her fear was that I would never earn a living as a chemist.

When she heard a few years later that I planned to go for a PhD in chemistry, her only comment was,

So why don’t you at least become a real doctor?

Doctor, lawyer, engineer – these were careers that Eastern European immigrants such as my mother and father knew had definite earning power. Having survived the Great Depression, they believed earning a living was all that mattered.

As a student in the 1950s, I had never heard of the word “mentor.” In retrospect, as a first-generation college student, I would have really been helped by having a “mentor,” especially with regard to choosing a career.

So, for the past 10 years, following my retirement as professor of biology at the University of California, San Diego, my greatest joy and sense of satisfaction has come from mentoring undergraduates.

First-generation students

It wasn’t always that way.

As a young professor, struggling to climb the academic ladder toward tenure and a full professorship, my research took precedence over all else, including teaching and even family life. Read More...