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Costly campus and erratic enrollment strategies have Vermont college on edge

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Buying a new campus sends Burlington College deep into debt. Can it survive?

New College Success Group in Arizona

The Arizona College Scholarship Foundation has merged with the Arizona College Access Network to form a new group that will serve as a "statewide voice for college access and success," according to a written statement. The group will add supports to an existing network of 200 college access programs across the state, which provide standards, training and tools aimed at helping more students graduate from college. The scholarship foundation has a particular focus on first-generation college students who are members of minority groups.

Study of Graduation Rates of Returning Students

A group of five higher education associations and other organizations are collaborating on a study of the retention and graduation rates of five million students who are not first-time college students. The American Council on Education, InsideTrack, NASPA -- Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, the University Professional and Continuing Education Association, and the National Student Clearinghouse last month announced the research project, which is slated to be wrapped up this fall.

The research is intended to give a broader, more accurate view of student completion trends than federal graduation rates, which track only first-time, full-time students. This approach fails to capture the large number of adult students who enroll in college multiple times. The Clearinghouse database, however, can provide information on almost all students. The new study will look at aggregate enrollment patterns, breaking out data by institution type, age of students, gender, geographic location, enrollment intensity and the type of degree pursued. 

4 states' project to share data sheds light on college outcomes

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Western consortium says four states' sharing of data on college and workforce outcomes improved their understanding of how their citizens fared after high school.

ABA Approves Changes in Law School Accreditation

The American Bar Association's governing council has approved changes in the ABA rules for accrediting law schools, The National Law Journal reported. The changes will require that law school have students gain experience in clinics or other real world settings, and will shift an emphasis from the qualifications of entering students to measures of learning and placement rates. The ABA and law schools have been criticized for not doing enough in the past about law schools that enroll students who may have little chance at employment in jobs sufficient to repay their loans.

 

Legislative Panel Votes to Censure U. of Texas Regent

The Texas House Transparency Committee voted Monday to censure Wallace Hall, a member of the University of Texas System Board of Regents, for “misconduct, incompetency in the performance of official duties, or behavior unbefitting a nominee for and holder of a state office," The Texas Tribune reported. Hall has engaged in lengthy investigations, complete with mammoth document requests, of the University of Texas at Austin, and many have accused him of a witch hunt to try to force the ouster of President Bill Powers. Hall issued a statement saying that "the committee's findings are based on distortions, untruths, and intentional misrepresentations."

New workforce fund in Louisiana ties money to jobs and private donations

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Louisiana's two-year colleges get the backing of business -- and more state funding -- thanks to workforce focus and program cuts.

Syracuse Tops Princeton Review’s ‘Party School’ List

Syracuse University is the nation’s top party school, according to the Princeton Review’s annual college rankings, which were released Monday.

The ranking dismayed Syracuse officials. “Syracuse University has a long-established reputation for academic excellence with programs that are recognized nationally and internationally as the best in their fields,” university officials said in a statement. “We do not aspire to be a party school.”

The Princeton Review surveyed 130,000 students across the country – an average of 343 students per campus – to develop its rankings. The “party school” rankings come from survey questions on alcohol and drug use, the number of hours students spend studying each day and the Greek system’s popularity.

Syracuse has fretted about college rankings in the past. Nancy Cantor, Syracuse’s former chancellor, disdained rankings. She quipped that the U.S. News & World Report rankings “may sell magazines,” but not much else. Syracuse slid down rankings lists under Cantor’s tenure as the university admitted more low-income and at-risk students.

Its current chancellor, Kent Syverud, who took office in January, pledged to pay more attention to rankings. The dubious honor of “top party school” is likely not what he had in mind.

“With new leadership, we are very focused on enhancing the student experience, both academically and socially,” Syracuse officials said in response to the party-school designation. “Students, parents, faculty and the full Syracuse University community should expect to see important and positive changes in the year ahead that will improve and enhance the student environment in every aspect.”

Officials said the rankings came from a “two-year-old survey of a very small portion of our student body” – a claim that misleads slightly.

The Princeton Review conducts formal surveys of colleges once every three years. But the company also offers an online survey, which students can complete any time.

“Surveys we receive from students outside of their schools’ normal survey cycles are always factored into the subsequent year’s ranking calculations, so our pool of student survey data is continuously refreshed,” Princeton Review editors wrote in their 2015 “Best 379 Colleges” guidebook.

Brigham Young University ranked number one among “Stone Cold Sober" universities – a title it has captured for 17 years in a row. To celebrate, the university posted an image on its Facebook page of what may be its preferred celebratory beverage: reduced fat chocolate milk.

White House Talks College Success With Education Leaders from 10 Cities

The White House summoned officials from higher education, K-12 and business in 10 cities to a meeting Thursday at the U.S. Department of Education. The group was brought together to discuss collaborative strategies on college completion, according to a brief written statement from the department. It was a follow-up to the college "summit" the White House held earlier this year. One area of focus was improving college preparedness and remedial success rates, sources said.

The represented cities and counties were Albany, New York; Baltimore County, Maryland; Camden, New Jersey; Denver, Colorado; Kansas City, Missouri; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Providence, Rhode Island; Rio Grande Valley and McAllen, Texas, Riverside County, California; and Spartanburg County, South Carolina.

Bar Exam Technology Disaster

New law graduates in many states experienced a technology snafu at the worst possible time Tuesday night: as they were attempting to upload bar examinations just before deadlines in their states. Many reported spending hours trying and failing to upload their answers. ExamSoft, a company that manages the bar test submission process in many states, acknowledged "slowness or difficulty" being experienced by many test-takers, and said that it was sorry for the difficulties many were having. The company, working with various state bar associations, announced 17 deadline extensions by states, so that people who couldn't submit their exams would not be penalized.

The legal blog Above the Law posted some of the emails and social media messages being posted by angry law graduates. the blog said that the situation "appears to be the biggest bar exam debacle in history."

Many bar exams continue today, so the frustrated test-takers who were up late, some fearing that they may have failed by not submitting their day's results, have another stressful day ahead of them, for many of them without as much sleep as they might have had otherwise. One comment on the ExamSoft page on Facebook said: "This is unbelievably disrespectful. I don't think you quite understand the pressure we are all under. We understand technical issues happen (although you are supposed to be a tech company), but your 'support staff' is a joke and you should at the VERY least had updates for each of the states BEFORE their respective deadlines. Now we are wondering, HOURS before a second day of grueling testing if any of it will matter. Please answer the states with past or remaining deadlines. Or get someone to answer the phone, chat or email--> have been trying all three methods for 4 hours. Thanks."

One law blogger, Josh Blackman, wondered what would happen if failure rates are higher this year. He explained: "And for crying out loud, this is serious business. Failing the bar in this economy is a 6-month sentence of unemployment. Somewhere, a plaintiff’s lawyer is putting together a class-action suit for those who used ExamSoft and failed."

 

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