administrators

Maine college adds competency-based degree

As reported in Inside Higher Ed, the University of Maine at Presque Isle has created an online, competency-based degree aimed at adult students. The university's new bachelor's degree in business administration has a flat tuition rate of $2,000 per semester, which is less than half the standard rate for in-state students. It includes a focus on students' previous college learning and work experience, which can be counted toward the degree.

Are digital natives more tech savvy than their older instructors?

A report argues that those born after 1984 aren’t inherently better versed in technology. The author who coined the term “digital native” disagrees.

40% of 2-Year College Grads Earn a Bachelor's

Among community college graduates who hold no previous degrees or certificates, 41 percent earn a bachelor's degree during the next six years.

That's among the findings from a new report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, which is able to track almost all students who enroll in U.S. colleges. The center's analysis looked at 575,067 community college students who graduated in 2011. Roughly 65 percent of these students enrolled at four-year institutions within six years (with 41 percent of the graduates eventually earning a four-year degree). The youngest group of community college graduates (20 and under) were the most likely to succeed at a four-year institution, with 62 percent earning a bachelor's within six years.

Figure 1: Bachelor’s Degree Outcomes for Students Who Earned an Associate Degree in 2010-11 as First Postsecondary Credential. Results broken down by age group and gender. Overall, 41.4 percent enrolled at four-year institutions earned bachelor’s degrees and 23.7 percent did not. For 20 years and under, 61.5 percent enrolled at four-year institutions earned bachelor’s degrees and 18.9 percent did not for 20 to 24 years of age, 43.9 percent enrolled at four-year institutions earned bachelor’s degrees and 23.3 percent did not. For students over 24 years of age, 32 percent enrolled at four-year institutions earned bachelor’s degrees and 25.7 percent did not. For women, 41.8 percent enrolled at four-year institutions earned bachelor’s degrees and 24.3 percent did not. For men, 41.7 percent enrolled at four-year institutions earned bachelor’s degrees and 23.6 percent did not. Note: based on students whose first postsecondary credential was an associate degree earned between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2011. Student age refers to the age when first credential was awarded. Subsequent credentials are limited to credentials completed within six years of first credential award date.

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Presque Isle Adds Competency-Based Degree

The University of Maine at Presque Isle has created an online, competency-based degree aimed at adult students.

The university's new bachelor's degree in business administration has a flat tuition rate of $2,000 per semester, which is less than half its standard rate for in-state students. It includes a focus on students' previous college learning and work experience, which can be counted toward the degree. In addition, all course and learning materials are included in the program's digital platform, the university said, eliminating additional textbook costs or fees.

In 2014 the university announced it was moving beyond traditional grading by basing all of its academic programs on competency-style proficiencies that students must master to earn a credential.

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A look at the data and arguments about Asian-Americans and admissions at elite colleges

Justice Department inquiry renews debate over whether top colleges hold some applicants to an unfair standard -- and what the data say about Asian-American applicants.

Late audits were culprit in sanction of W.Va.'s public colleges

Smart Title: 

Public universities in the state were slapped with sanctions that will slow release of federal student aid and add an extra layer of approval for new programs -- a result of three years of late audits, the top reason public universities suffer the penalty.

A president regularly meets with students to candidly discuss controversial issues (essay)

The most meaningful conversations often begin when I say to a student, “Why don’t you tell us more about that?”

I serve as a mentor to a group of young men of all backgrounds and experiences at the University of Richmond. My wife, Betty Neal Crutcher, similarly mentors a group of young women. We each meet monthly. We also convene several times per semester as a united team. Betty has a doctoral degree in cross-cultural mentoring; I try to keep up by leveraging my experience as a university president.

I have long believed in the potential of mentoring. Mentoring connects us as educators to our students in a manner that is spontaneous, timely and genuine. As higher education is increasingly scrutinized for its value and relevance, mentoring provides us the opportunity to share wisdom across generations; foster candor, respect, collaboration, resourcefulness and understanding; and help our students in the transition to future lives of meaning and purpose.

At first glance, it’s easy to clump mentees into stereotypical groups by gender, race or nationality. A student’s religion or political affiliation may emerge within candid discussions; class is often harder to discern. In my groups, students choose the topics they wish to discuss, and nothing is off-limits. Since my arrival in 2015, we have grappled with race and class in our community, the affordability of education, and our collective response to sexual assault, among other important campus issues.

When students volunteer to tell us more, their stories transcend all lines of commonality and difference. For example, an international student didn’t understand the barriers faced by a first-generation American college student until the latter poignantly shared her shame in not having parents or siblings to guide her transition, as so many of her classmates did.

Several students of color debated the ease and challenges of acclimating to the university’s social culture, as two majority-race classmates -- one from a populous East Coast city and the other a small, rural town in the Southwest -- articulated nearly identical enthusiasms and concerns. Two young scholars, vocally committed to different political ideologies, united to promote a shared cause for environmental stewardship.

In their emerging intellectual lives, students sometimes cling to familiar social structures -- engaging only with individuals who look or talk like them, consuming media that reinforces their own beliefs, or avoiding conversations that cause discomfort. Homogeneous thought, lingering indifference and even fear of failure have a dynamic pull.

But the college campus pulls in another direction, offering an ideal environment for abandoning existing biases and seeking out people of different backgrounds and perspectives.

Students learn best when they’re challenged to tackle hard questions and have tough conversations, and when they have these conversations in thoughtful ways. Academic institutions are unusually positioned, and have a distinct responsibility, to model substantive and civil disagreement. But civility must not be code for quieting others’ opinions. Rather, it must be a call for an energetic exchange of ideas within our richly diverse academic communities. What we have found in our mentoring groups is that, given the opportunity, and supported by faculty, staff and peers who care about them, students are often eager to share and willing to change their minds. The experiences we provide our students in laboratories of all sorts offer a rich environment for constructive disagreement that yields new insights that can benefit our nation and world.

In a recent survey of prospective students, which we commissioned, engaging in active discussion with people who represent a variety of experiences and perspectives emerged as a particularly desirable characteristic for any college or university. That affirmation from our students is significant and, considered most optimistically, may indicate that the time is right for a more courageous approach to difficult conversations on all of our campuses.

I believe strongly in education that exposes our students to new experiences as a means of better understanding themselves, their fellow citizens and the knotty and complicated facets of our democracy. As educators and institutional leaders, it’s important to model the behaviors we wish to inculcate in our students. I don’t think there is a simple answer to address the complexities we encounter -- on our campuses and in our world -- but mentoring groups such as ours are easily replicable and represent a clear path forward that is rife with possibility.

Today, at Richmond and across the nation, students are ready to have candid and civil conversations across lines of difference. In our mentoring groups, and on our campuses, they are acquiring the knowledge, skills and dispositions to lead us effectively in the future. At a time when stridency threatens to replace civility as normative in our public discourse and our debates, no lesson may be more timely or important than this one.

Ronald A. Crutcher is president of the University of Richmond.

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President Crutcher with students at the University of Richmond
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Advice Newsletter publication dates: 
Thursday, August 3, 2017
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The President as Mentor for Tackling Hard Questions

OpenStax saved 1 million students $70 million

OpenStax, the nonprofit based at Rice University that produces peer-reviewed openly licensed textbooks and materials, told “Inside Digital Learning” that during the 2016-17 academic year more than one million students at 3,800 institutions nationwide used OpenStax resources and that those learners saved more than $70 million total.

The rising stars of the digital humanities

These five rising stars work in alternative-academic and traditional tenure-track positions at public research, liberal arts and Ivy League institutions.

Drexel's Test Drive allows students to try out online learning

Drexel University gives prospective distance learners a chance to test free an online course.

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