Higher Ed 2016
A college degree may be the golden ticket to a better job, but that incentive alone isn’t enough to stop millions of students from dropping out of school. In fact, just over half of students complete their postsecondary degrees within six years.
Scrap the lecture halls, final exams, degree plans and traditional semesters.
As has become tradition at EWA’s higher education conferences, Inside Higher Ed Co-founder and Editor Scott Jaschik offered a series of story ideas for reporters to pursue this academic year.
What does the term “innovation” mean in regard to higher education, and should journalists take colleges’ definitions at face value?
“A bad attitude is like a bad tire: You can’t go anywhere until you change it,” Arizona State University sophomore Ricardo Nieland told a roomful of journalists gathered on the campus for a seminar on innovation in higher education earlier this month.
Nieland was speaking on a panel about college students who are among the first generation of family members to pursue a degree. The session addressed the struggles many of these young adults encounter in higher education.
Two numbers haunt the college landscape: $1.3 trillion and 40 percent.
The first is the ever-increasing debt Americans are shouldering to pay off the cost of a degree. But a growing chorus of experts believes that extraordinary sum obscures another crisis: For many, those debts wouldn’t be as devastating had they earned a degree. But only 40 percent of Americans complete a bachelor’s degree in four years.
The upshot is that millions of Americans earning meager wages are on the hook for thousands of dollars with almost nothing to show for it.
In many industries, innovation is the engine that pushes businesses toward success, but colleges and universities haven’t changed much in centuries. What are some universities doing to change the academic experience for students and break down the barriers between departments, for example, making courses in science and engineering more attractive to more students? And how can students use these experiences to solve real-world problems?
More colleges and universities are using information about students’ backgrounds and past experiences to stop bad academic habits before they begin. It’s called predictive analytics, and its potential has higher-education reformers excited. By looking at trends among students with similar characteristics, some colleges have steered students toward positive behaviors like declaring a major early, meeting with mentors, or going online to look at homework material. But data-privacy experts and skeptics say data breaches and unclear intentions could color this fast-moving trend.
A majority of states have created some type of performance-based model that provides public colleges and universities with extra dollars for showing better results, like graduating more students. To some, these policies force colleges to make sure they are getting the most out of taxpayers’ dollars. To critics, the outcomes-based approach encourages administrators to enroll fewer low-income or first-generation students, as those pupils are less likely to graduate and might hurt the school’s finances. What does the evidence show about these arguments?
From the presidential election to racial tensions on college campuses, recent developments could change the nature of higher education for years to come. Inside Higher Ed Co-Founder and Editor Scott Jaschik shares his insights on these two topics, along with other topics journalists should track this fall.
- Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed
Few news articles about student financial aid omit the staggering fact that total student loan debt for former college-goers stands at $1.3 trillion. While the U.S. Department of Education has aggressively enrolled more borrowers into repayment plans that are based on how much they earn, millions of people remain either in default or near it. As a result, several efforts — both private and public — have emerged to potentially help students manage their college loans.
For years, advocates of competency-based education — awarding students college credits based on the skills and knowledge they demonstrate rather than the time spent in a classroom — have argued that the approach will enable more students to earn degrees and make college more affordable. But will this approach to education, which some say has largely centered on skills development, undermine colleges’ commitments to providing students with a broader base of knowledge?
For students who are the first in their families to attend college, navigating higher education can be particularly challenging, in part because they can’t turn to their families for guidance from experience. But some programs are starting to work with families before students even apply to college, offering information and support to help the students succeed once they enroll. How might such programs, in addition to other ways of supporting first-generation students, help them better adapt to college?
In this workshop led by veteran higher education reporters, journalists brainstorm story ideas and share their reporting tips and advice with one another.
Hiring More Black and Latino Professors: ‘You Have to Want to Do That’
ASU President Michael Crow with his thoughts on faculty diversity
Why aren’t there more black and Latino college professors at elite institutions?
“There’s a lot of talk about the student debt crisis and I’m going to tell you that I don’t think there really is a student debt crisis,” said Debbie Cochrane, vice president at The Institute for College Access and Success. “What there are are multiple student debt crises.”
Please check the online agenda for any future changes to the program.
Friday, September 16
Innovation and the Future of Higher Education
1:00 – 2:15 p.m.
What new techniques and practices should higher education embrace to ensure that more students graduate? Join the Education Writers Association September 16-17 at Arizona State University to explore cutting-edge innovations that aim to address financial, academic, and social barriers.