Highlights from Higher Ed: By the Numbers

The higher education industry has changed so rapidly in recent years and it shows no sign of slowing down. In this issue of Higher Ed by the Numbers, we explore what those changes look like for both students and the institutions where they study.

Despite potential benefits, schools deemed “most competitive accept few transfer students from community colleges”

Compared with less competitive schools, the most competitive U.S. colleges and universities tend to admit far fewer transfer students from community colleges — despite the fact that such students typically succeed academically and are also likely to help increase campus diversity. According to one recent study, only 5% of new undergraduates at schools defined as “most competitive” had transferred from community colleges in 2016, whereas 21% of those at “less competitive” schools had done so. That year, for example, Princeton admitted just 13 of the 1,429 transfer applicants who applied, and only eight identified as people of color. On the other hand, smaller and less competitive Dickinson College typically enrolls as many as half of the approximately 30 transfer students who apply each year. The school works with faculty members in honors programs at community colleges to find potential students and to help them transfer as many credits as possible.

Source: Inside Higher Ed

Most undergrads no longer fit typical profile

The majority (nearly 60%) of undergraduate students are classified as “post-traditional learners.” That means they are over the age of 24, work full-time, are financially independent or have had a military affiliation. As a result, these 13.3 million students are likely to look for — and require — different educational opportunities than those fresh out of high school.

Source: Evolllution

States providing resources for veterans

Veterans are a huge part of the post-traditional student population, and they face unique challenges when beginning or continuing their education. Some states have recognized that fact and are now starting to act. Louisiana, for example, will become just the second state to have a resource center for veterans on each of its 30 campuses by Fall 2019. Washington state has a similar program for veterans.

Source: The Advocate

Schools look for ways to appeal to “non-traditional learners”

Not all post-traditional learners desire the same learning experiences; while some may want the flexibility of online classes, others prefer the benefits of attending in-person classes. With that in mind, schools are trying to accommodate their needs. Smith College, for example, provides a customizable approach for its post-traditional students. Through its Ada Comstock Scholars Program, the school offers family housing for up to 12 months and financial assistance to the more than 100 students it enrolls each year. “There are 104 students and 104 different ways they do Smith,” a spokesperson said.

Source: KBIC

Will on-campus daycare boost graduation rates?

Photos of professors holding children while lecturing regularly go viral on social media. Yet those acts of kindness aren’t enough to address a widespread challenge in classrooms across the country: 25% of college students are parents of dependent children, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. As a result, the burden of caring for children — which still falls primarily on women’s shoulders — combined with the demands of studying and the high costs of childcare make attending college difficult for many. That’s why schools, such as Monroe Community College in New York, have on-campus daycare facilities, which have helped increase on-time graduation rates. Texas A&M also offers on-campus childcare, but it provides recommendations for off-campus options due to its long waiting lists.

Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education

Business schools report gains in gender equality

More graduate business schools appear to be making progress toward their goals of gender equality, according to one report. Last year, for example, the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business announced that it had achieved gender parity. Other notable institutions making strides include Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, which grew its female ranks from 34% to 42%, and the University of Washington Foster School of Business, which jumped from 36% to 42%.

Source: Poets & Quants

Financial responsibilities create serious challenges for community college students

Among the nearly 6,000 community college students in nine states polled on the subject, equal numbers cited working (34%) and paying expenses (34%) as the top obstacles potentially interfering with their academic success. Approximately half of the respondents said their wages didn’t cover expenses, and 61% said they didn’t have enough time outside of work to study. Many also struggled with balancing other familial responsibilities.

Source: Inside Higher Ed

Black undergrads carry more debt than other students

Black students face significantly greater financial struggles than other undergraduate and graduate students. For example, black undergrads typically have 15% more debt than their classmates ($34,010 versus $29,669); one-third owe more than $40,000 after graduation. Among those pursuing doctoral studies, the average debt exceeds $128,000. Black graduates also tend to have lower salaries and a higher unemployment rate.

Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education

Asian students complete advanced STEM degrees at highest rate, followed by white and black students

Completing STEM programs is a challenge, particularly for minority groups. When looking at STEM master’s programs, only 6.2% of black students complete their degrees, compared with 22.9% of Asian students and 10.7% of white students. The percentage of degree completion increases with doctoral programs, but black students are still in the minority with a 13.8% graduation level, compared with 51.9% of Asian students and 35.5% of white students.

Source: Education Dive

Tailoring online learning experiences to student needs increases satisfaction

The University of Arizona has a 93% satisfaction rating among students regarding its online campus because the school works to recommend classes that reflect academic programming and family needs, according to one report. It also strives to provide students with flexibility and control, continues to locate online employees on campus and has been able to bring more than 200 students back to school through its Second Start Program.  

Source: Evolllution

88,000 undergrads at one school — and more are older than 24

Western Governors University — although in existence for less than 30 years — currently has more than 88,000 enrolled undergraduate students. That’s more than the top 14 ranked universities in the U.S. News & World Report combined. It’s also noteworthy that just 8% of the student body is under the age of 24. WGU, an online institution, attracts post-traditional, adult learners and then retains them with its expertise and brand familiarity.

Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education

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