Using Technology to Assist with Student Retention

The “non-traditional” student has become the norm: It is more common for students to be working, commuting, and potentially having a family to care for while completing their education than 20 or even five years ago. Coupled with the increased use of graduation rates as a key metric for funding and ranking, retention success is even more critical for community colleges.

But how can one person or department effectively identify all of the reasons students are leaving campus? It’s not possible.

Retention is truly a whole-campus issue, and as such needs to be addressed holistically, to see significant results. A successful retention program requires a variety of methods to identify, report and address at-risk students. A centralized management tool allows administrators to:

  • Systematically solicit faculty and staff input to identify at-risk students.
  • Automatically generate early-alert information based on statistical data.
  • Build communication channels that foster student dialogue on their terms.
  • Manage and monitor all information from one central system. (Read more.)

Via Andrew Dryden, Community College Times.

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“That Used to Be Us”

Recently, Chancellor Serrano’s Cabinet members viewed a video of Thomas Freidman speaking about employing innovation to reinvigorate us to work collectively for the common good. His points about innovation are especially relevant to education because it is the foundation for economic recovery. Following is the link to Friedman discussing his book entitled That Used to Be Us:

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From Safety Net to Springboard

The following is commentary from Elisabeth Mason of the Huffington Post. 

Millions of Americans have cycled through a series of “miracle” diets (I’m one of them). Most promise quick but lasting results. And often one diet’s sacred premise is another’s sacrilege.

After a while you may (like me) conclude that the radical weight loss solution is… exercise more and eat less.

Our thinking on jobs has become a little like our thinking on diets. It has certainly provided a bunch of empty calories to the national discourse. The problem is that, in our zeal for magic fixes, we sometimes ignore obvious choices.

Don’t get me wrong: We’ve generated some great new ideas for finding the right training programs for employees, and matching them with the right jobs.

But, with due respect for these new ideas, are we forgetting a few old ones?

Let’s not just answer the question about what new ways we can come up with to address unemployment. Let’s question the question: Is there anything out there that can help solve our jobs crisis and also propel us to the 21st-century version of broad-based progress that we enjoyed in the middle part of the 20th? Can we use the overlooked architecture of the last century’s prosperity to lay the foundation for success in this one?

There is indeed. In fact there are two powerful forces that could do great good.

First of all, there’s the series of economic supports that kick in to help the needier among us: the Earned Income Tax Credit, TANF, SNAP ( better known as food stamps), Medicaid, and other federal and state programs. (Read more.)

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Filling the Skills Gap

A man named Gerald Chertavian came by my office not long ago, and, by the time he left, I was filled with renewed appreciation for the potential of community colleges to help stem the decline of the middle class. There are few more urgent tasks.

Chertavian is not the president of a community college or even a teacher at one. Rather, he runs a program,Year Up, which he founded, that makes it possible for poor high school graduates to land good jobs. It does so, in part, by imparting important soft skills that the upper-middle-class take for granted, like how to interact with colleagues in an office setting.

A second aspect of the program involves teaching marketable skills in such areas as computer support, say, or back-office work at financial firms. These are called middle-skill jobs; they require more than a high school education but less than a four-year baccalaureate degree. Thirty years ago, said Chertavian, middle-skill jobs didn’t exist. “There were jobs that required a college degree, and jobs that didn’t. Now,” he said, “up to a third of all jobs are middle-skill jobs.” Almost universally, companies complain that they can’t find enough workers to fill those jobs.

As a result, Chertavian has had no trouble rounding up corporations like General Electric and Bank of America to give internships to his charges; if all goes well — and it usually does — they wind up with a well-paying job. The entry-level pay can be as much as $40,000 a year.

The trouble with programs like Chertavian’s is that they are akin to pebbles being thrown in the ocean. He has identified a sweet spot in the economy — matching motivated, but disadvantaged, young people with a genuine economic need. But Year Up, which operates in nine cities, can absorb only 1,400 students a year. What about the millions of others who don’t have access to a program like that? (Read more.)

Via  Joe Nocera, The New York Times.

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The Crucial Need to Hold Students to a Higher Standard

Over the last few months, hundreds of thousands of high school seniors have walked across a stage and received a diploma, an important moment that should be applauded.

Unfortunately, for many of those students, that diploma represents a false promise.

Recent data from the ACT, Inc. shows that only 25 percent of high school students who take the test are college-ready in all subject areas. In my home state of Tennessee, the situation is even bleaker. All students in Tennessee take the ACT test, but only 15 percent meet college readiness benchmarks in English, math, reading, and science. While more than 80 percent of our students say they want to attain at least a two-year degree, far too few are graduating with the skills they need to thrive after high school. Even some high school valedictorians are taking remedial courses in college. Too many students are completely unprepared for the future.

These hard truths are particularly worrisome because college readiness and a postsecondary credential are critical to longterm success. In 2010, the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce found that almost two-thirds of all job openings in the United States by 2018 will require some form of postsecondary education — including technical certificates and Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and advanced degrees. Last year, the unemployment rate for Americans without a high school diploma was 14.1 percent. For those with a Bachelor’s degree, it was 4.9 percent. (Read more.)

Via Bill Frist, The Week.

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