More Frequent, Intensive Advising Cranks up Student Engagement


Authored By


When Georgia State University added 42 academic advisers, it cost the institution an additional $2 million each year. However, reported Tim Renick, vice president for enrollment management and student success, the investment paid for itself, "because the increased retention rate meant more revenue for the school." Graduation rates there grew by more than 20 percentage points in just over a decade, including among students of color; now Black and Hispanic students graduate at rates comparable to or higher than those of White students.

Georgia State's story features in a new report from the Center for Community College Student Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin, as an example worth the attention of two-year schools. "If community colleges want to increase student engagement, one place to start is by examining the foundation of academic advising," said Evelyn Waiwaiole, executive director of the center.

To put data behind the impact of advising on retention and engagement, the center surveyed about 180,000 students at 297 colleges around the country. The survey was issued in paper form in the spring semester during class to students enrolled in randomly selected credit-bearing courses. (A parallel survey was given to 9,577 faculty at 86 colleges.) The final report, "Show Me the Way: The Power of Advising in Community Colleges," found that overall, students who get more time in advising with more in-depth discussions during their advising sessions are more engaged in community college.

Yet, the survey also found that the content of those advising sessions varies widely among students. While a majority of students (62 percent of first-termers and 78 percent of returning students) do meet with an adviser, most of those sessions are focused on figuring out what classes they need to take for their educational goals. While two-thirds (65 percent) also said advisers helped them create academic plans, just over half (53 percent) were also able to discuss their commitments outside of school. And most (65 percent) didn't discuss scheduling for a follow-up advising session. (Read More...)

The Ethos of the Overinvolved Parent

 Christina O'Connor / AP

Christina O'Connor / AP

Authored by


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...)

Study: Over Six Million Students Now Enrolled In Distance Education


Authored by Online Learning Consortium

The Distance Education Enrollment Report 2017, conducted by the new Digital Learning Compass organization, reveals the number of higher education students taking at least one distance education course in 2015 now tops six million. Growth, however, was uneven; private non-profit institutions grew by 11.4 percent while private for-profit institutions saw their distance enrollments decline by 9.4 percent. These and other findings were published today in a report titled, “Digital Learning Compass: Distance Education Enrollment Report 2017.”

This report is the first in a series of publications from Digital Learning Compass, a new research partnership of the Babson Survey Research Group, e-Literate, and WCET. Digital Learning Compass partnered with the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), Pearson, and Tyton Partners to produce this first report, which examines the trends and patterns of distance education enrollments among U.S. degree-granting higher education institutions. Additional publications in the Digital Learning Compass series will provide a detailed look at multiple facets of U.S. distance education.

“The study’s findings highlight yet another year of consecutive growth in the number of students taking courses at a distance,” said study co-author Jeff Seaman, co-director of the Babson Survey Research Group.  “This study and earlier reports from the Babson Survey Research Group have shown that distance education growth has a momentum that has continued, even as overall higher education enrollments have been declining.” (Read More...)

How Generation Z Is Shaping The Change In Education


By Sieve Kozinsky


Generation Z has officially entered college. And just as the Millennials before them, this generation is disrupting the way learning happens in higher education. But these differences go beyond just a greater dependence on technology. Gen Z-ers tend to embrace social learning environments, where they can be hands-on and directly involved in the learning process. They expect on-demand services that are available at any time and with low barriers to access. And they tend to be more career-focused earlier on in their college careers.

A study done by Barnes and Noble College shows that today’s students refuse to be passive learners. They aren’t interested in simply showing up for class, sitting through a lecture, and taking notes that they’ll memorize for an exam later on. Instead, they expect to be fully engaged and to be a part of the learning process themselves.

In fact, Gen Z students tend to thrive when they are given the opportunity to have a fully immersive educational experience and they even enjoy the challenges of being a part of it. For instance, 51% of surveyed students said they learn best by doing while only 12% said they learn through listening. These same students also mentioned they tend to enjoy class discussions and interactive classroom environments over the traditional dissemination teaching method. (Read More...)



Rethinking Design, from Scratch


When we set out to build our next-generation platform, we took the time-tested user-centered approach. In addition to our own platform, we took a hard look at the other tools people are using, how they’re using them, and what they’ve come to expect. Starting from scratch we knew we had a monumental task on our hands, but we were confident if we focused on the right things we’d be successful.

In business, Jeff Bezos advises focus on the things that are not going to change. We think the same applies for any individual product so we came up with a list of things we knew would not change to help focus and inform our work. This is what we came up with:

  • Users would always need access to common functions like search and filter content, read text, click links and buttons, enter data into forms, etc.

  • Users would always benefit from a consistent user experience

  • Users would always need access on screens of wildly varying sizes

  • Users needs and desires would always be changing

  • No matter how big we got, we would always wish we had more resources than we had

We needed an approach that would be economical to build and maintain and provide the foundation so that even if we couldn’t know what might need to build down the road, we wouldn’t discover we’d painted ourselves into a corner.

To meet these the requirements, we developed the Tenlegs Design System.

Design systems alleviate many of the problems that arise from the more traditional design approach of developing a static style guide then designing new features on top of that. With a design system, the style guide and the features are one and the same.

The design system we’ve built at Tenlegs has enabled our small team to deliver solutions for the ever-changing needs of diverse college and university populations in record time.

You can read about design systems and atomic design here and here, but the basic metaphor behind the concept is that we design interfaces from a hierarchy of structures analogous to those found in nature:

  • Atoms (interface elements like buttons and menus) are assembled into..

  • Molecules (functional blocks like content cards and forms);

  • Different molecules into organisms (like search applications and workflows);

  • Organisms coexist in an environment (such as user administration and event management). The design system even accommodates breakpoints so we can deliver the right experience for the user’s screen size.

Design systems are the most economical way to...

  • Give leverage to small teams

  • Enable scale to large teams

  • Increase design speed

  • Increase development speed

  • Ease maintenance

  • Ease testing

  • Improve overall user experience

  • Ensure high-quality product

  • Increase consistency across products and platforms

A design system lets you “set it and forget it” for all the constituent components.


When you put them all together, you get products that work well and look great without having to tinker and tweak.

The heavy lifting up front has paid off. Our design system continues to grow and evolve. New features can be built in minutes or hours where they might have taken days or weeks. With a design system, we get to focus more on the user and helping her to achieve goals in a consistent way, rather than reinventing for each new problem.

Why we need to know more, not less, about what students get from college

By Mark Schneider of Hechinger Report

The federal government, in concert with the states and institutions, could do more to increase transparency and enhance market accountability in higher education.

More effectively reporting data that it already collects and collecting better data on cost, quality and value would provide a number of benefits.

Students could use the information to avoid investing in schools or programs that do not provide a positive return on investment and to discover options that they may have eliminated on the basis of incomplete or faulty information.

Researchers and policymakers could more readily judge where investments in federal aid are paying off and where reforms could improve efficiency and reduce waste. Private firms could use data to come up with rankings and ratings to reflect the unique preferences of different students.

Private lenders and funders could use labor-market outcome data to improve underwriting and extend credit on the basis of a student’s potential rather than the student’s past experience with credit products. 

Perhaps the most visible attempt to rewrite the federal role was the Obama administration’s failed attempt to build a Postsecondary Institutional Rating System (PIRS).  In 2013, the White House decided that the nation needed a rating system that would evaluate the approximately 7,000 post-secondary institutions that participate in federal student-aid programs. (Read More...)

Building Community in Online Courses

Authored by Dr. Kathleen Stone, Western Governors University

In November, I presented at the AAACE annual conference on research I completed as part of an Ed.D in Higher Education and Adult Learning. My research explored how adult online students at a small rural community college described a sense of school community when completing online courses. I wanted to understand their perceptions of the presence of a sense of school community and what aspects they felt could contribute to successful completion of online courses. From this small qualitative case study, I found students did not perceive a sense of school community, yet they felt having a greater sense of school community would help them successfully complete online courses. What is school community and why look at this factor when exploring online course completion rates?

A sense of community in an online environment includes two distinct aspects: classroom community and school community. A sense of community in the online classroom has been the focus of much research in distance learning (Childress & Spurgin, 2009; Rovai, Wighting, & Lucking, 2004). However, less attention and research has been given to the culture and climate that makes up a school community in the online environment (Childress & Spurgin, 2009; Rovai, Wighting, & Liu, 2005). School community has two dimensions: social community and learning community. A school’s social community involves “spirit, cohesion, trust, safety, trade, interdependence, and a sense of belonging” (Rovai et al., 2004, p. 267). A school’s learning community consists of the feelings of learning community members regarding the degree to which they share group norms and values and the extent to which their educational goals and expectations are satisfied by group membership (Rovai et al., 2004, p. 267). (Read More...)


Unlocking educational silos yields a wealth of data to help students succeed


Authored by Nelson Williams 

Silicon Angle

Colleges, universities and other centers of higher education collect a lot of information about their students. That data then disappears into legacy systems and custom applications. Breaking those silos can bring out the real power of that data and enable institutions to take intelligent action to guide students through their educational journey, according to Jeff Ralyea, senior vice president and general manager of cloud at Ellucian Inc.

“Ellucian has a sole focus on higher education. It’s really the only industry we serve,” Ralyea said, during the AWS Public Sector Summit in Washington, D.C.

Ralyea spoke with John Furrier (@furrier) and John Walls (@JohnWalls21), co-hosts of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE’s mobile live-streaming studio, about the importance of unlocking data and using insights. (* Disclosure below.)

Guiding students to data-driven success

Ellucian comes to educational organizations from an enterprise software perspective. It finds its bread and butter in the student systems, although the company does serve other areas. In particular, Ellucian runs systems that help students achieve success. Registration and recruitment make up just two examples for a suite of software that helps drive this outcome, Ralyea explained.

Likewise, unlocking the data in higher education is a really big deal. Systems that have lived on campus for decades hold all sorts of information about students. To tap this well, Ellucian built a platform, Ethos, that uses a new data model that sits above all the original systems. Then, they set this platform to run “role-based analytics” to discover new insights about the students, Ralyea stated. (Read More...)

Community engagement and collaborations can strengthen the bottom line of nonprofits

Coming Together from a Place of Strength, Not Weakness

Nonprofits are facing increased pressure to develop new and more efficient ways to deliver on their missions. Thoughtful and unconventional collaborations can strengthen the bottom line of nonprofits while delivering added value to their communities.

  Authored by Carrie Fox

Authored by Carrie Fox

In January, Leadership Montgomery, a small but influential nonprofit leadership center in Maryland, unveiled its new strategic plan, complete with a new mission, vision, and way of talking about the organization’s community impact.

This shift followed a time of deep reflection for the organization. For nearly 30 years, Leadership Montgomery had brought together private, public, and nonprofit professionals through leadership trainings and service activities that broaden perspectives and build connections for community improvement. But with a new CEO at the helm, it was time for a step back to move forward—to reframe tired language and re-examine the organization’s role and relevance within the community.

Leadership Montgomery timed the unveiling of its new strategic plan so that it coincided with the announcement of a major expansion of its programming—via the addition of another small but influential nonprofit called the Corporate Volunteer Council of Montgomery County (CVC). CVC trains businesses on how to build effective volunteer and charitable programs, and it too had been going through a time of reflection; its board wondered how it would or could scale CVC’s model to more effectively interlace with the region’s business and community leaders.

“The needs of our county have evolved,” said Leadership Montgomery’s new CEO during the public announcement. “As I’ve listened to what our members, our graduates, and our partners desire in leadership programming, I’ve realized without hesitation that with CVC, we can deliver more for those whom we support, and we can pull our community closer together in the process.” (Read more...)

How to Cold Call Your Future Mentor

 Getting that first meeting with an in-demand executive or potential mentor can change the course of a person’s career. But how do you break through with someone you’ve never met before? PHOTO: ISTOCK

Getting that first meeting with an in-demand executive or potential mentor can change the course of a person’s career. But how do you break through with someone you’ve never met before? PHOTO: ISTOCK

Getting a meeting with an influential person you admire actually could change your life, by opening doors and providing inspiration or advice.

But how do you connect with a total stranger who is in demand and make that person want to meet with you? Pulling off the career equivalent of a moon landing requires a first contact that is pitch-perfect: the perfect subject line, a winning introduction, a request that isn’t too big or vague, and—a subtle touch that’s often overlooked—a hint of what you can offer in return.

Most people reach out by email, and these emails are often swiftly deleted, experts and executives say. Often, the sender is asking for too much time—even an hour is usually too long—or too much commitment, such as saying outright, “Will you help me get a job?” Unfocused requests for pointless conversations, such as asking about the recipient’s accomplishments or background, also tend to land straight in the trash.

That first email should show that the sender is well informed and prepared for a purposeful discussion. Give a succinct summary of who you are, what you want to accomplish, what you are asking for and if possible, something you can offer.  (Read More...)