Highlights in Higher Ed: More Colleges Become Test Optional

More colleges go test optional

At least eight colleges made the shift to test-optional admissions during the winter of 2018-2019, compared with only one college the previous winter. And the trend is continuing, with several other schools — including the University of San Francisco and Springfield College — announcing they will no longer require applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores. Some graduate programs are also dropping test requirements. For example, the University of Michigan’s history department no longer requires students applying to its doctoral program to submit GRE scores. A handful of programs at the University of Pennsylvania, Cornell University and Harvard University have also done away with GRE requirements.

Source: Inside Higher Ed

Evaluating the benefits of blockchain diplomas

Harvard, MIT, and UC Berkeley are among the nine universities working together to explore how blockchain technology could be used to give students a permanent, digital version of their academic records. The digital records would allow students to own their academic transcripts as well as details about certifications and internships. That would give them the ability to share the information securely — without needing to request it from the schools they attended. Central New Mexico Community College began offering a blockchain diploma in 2018; about 400 students have since opted to use it. Digital portfolios are very popular among hiring managers, particularly when evaluating recent grads. Fewer than half find traditional academic transcripts to be helpful.

Source: Education Dive

More talk about free college and student loan forgiveness

Another presidential hopeful, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, has announced plans to cancel student loan debt and make public colleges free. Her initiative, with an estimated cost of 1.25 trillion dollars, would cancel up to $50,000 in loans for more than 40 million people. It would also allow any American to attend a two- or four-year public college without paying tuition. Opponents oppose the proposal for a variety of reasons, including its cost and their belief that loan forgiveness should not be universal but rather based on need.

Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education

More than a dozen fields awarded zero doctoral degrees to black students in 2017; Is a lack of faculty diversity to blame?

The number of black students who earned a Ph.D. rose modestly between 2002 and 2017 (from 5.1% to 5.4%), yet in 2017 more than a dozen fields of study awarded no doctoral degrees to black students. Most of those programs were in STEM-related disciplines. The disappointing numbers may be explained, at least in part, by a lack of faculty diversity: fewer than 6% of full-time faculty members at institutions across the country are black. When students see themselves represented in faculty, they may be more likely to pursue a career in that field. Finances may also play a role in preventing black students from earning advanced degrees. Black students — who, on average, have $120,000 in student loans — pay higher interest rates on student loans than members of other races. As a result, they may face greater financial struggles after earning a bachelor’s degree.

Source: The Atlantic

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