Highlights from Higher Ed: Provosts’ Perspectives, Social Media Interactions and the “Sibling Dynamic”

Provosts value a liberal arts education, but the outlook is mixed

Although 87% of college and university chief academic officers “believe that liberal arts education is crucial to undergraduate education,” nearly as many — more than 80% — also believe “that the concept of a liberal arts education is not understood in the United States.” A wide-ranging survey of nearly 600 provosts (or individuals with equivalent job titles at schools that have no provosts) also found that 91% of those at private colleges, and 83% at public institutions, believe “a liberal arts education is central to undergraduate education — even in professional programs.” However, only 12% and 9%, respectively, said they plan to increase funding for arts and sciences programs next year. Also, the number of provosts overall who think liberal arts education is “on the decline” has risen in the past year, climbing from 32% to 46% among provosts at public institutions and from 43% to 55% among provosts at private colleges.

Source: Inside Higher Ed

Adding financial incentives in “nudges” to re-enroll makes a big difference

Sending text messages about re-enrollment to people who have dropped out of community college can be an effective way of bringing students back to the classroom — as long as the messages offer a financial incentive for doing so. According to a recent study of several community colleges in Florida, text messages that “nudged” former students to re-enroll had “little effect” when they did not include an offer of a one-course tuition waiver. On the other hand, former students who received text messages that also offered a tuition waiver were 21% more likely to re-enroll. Those students were also more likely to take more than one course. Students most likely to respond to the incentive campaign were those who had lower GPAs, who had accumulated more credits and who were older than average. 

Source: Education Dive

More college admissions officers are looking at applicants’ social media profiles

After declining for the past three years, the number of admissions officers “visiting the social media profiles of applicants is back on the upswing,” according to the results of a recent survey. Researchers at Kaplan Test Prep polled almost 300 college admissions officers and determined that “36% of them turn to applicants’ profiles on social platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube to learn more about them, up from 25% last year.” The number peaked at 40% three years ago. It subsequently declined due to factors including the emergence of new platforms and the “prominent use of content that is not publicly accessible or disappears after a certain period of time, such as Stories on Snapchat and Instagram.” Among those who review applicants’ social media, 19% say they do it “often,” compared with 11% in 2015. Most admissions officers (59%) have no qualms with reviewing the social media of applicants, but a significant minority (41%) believe the practice is an invasion of privacy that should not happen.

Source: Adweek

Students are more likely to apply to a college attended by a sibling

Researchers at Princeton University have determined that “students are between 9.5 and 15.5 percentage points more likely to apply to the college where their sibling is enrolled and between 4.5 and 9 percentage points more likely to enroll there.” Those findings were based on data from Chile, Croatia and Sweden because — unlike the United States — each of those countries uses a centralized system for college admissions that contains data on every application in the country. The researchers’ goal was to “gauge how an older sibling’s college choices affect his younger sibling — and isolate the sibling dynamic from other factors such as the geographical proximity or reputation of the school.”

Source: Forbes