Notes & Coffee: July 24-30

Notes & Coffee is here to keep you informed of all the trending student affairs and higher ed news stories most critical to our field as they develop. In the age of information overload, we’re here to bring you vetted examinations of the stories that matter to our field. We invite you to brew a favorite morning beverage, kick back, relax, and catch yourself up for the week ahead with Notes & Coffee.

Another edge for the wealthy – Many colleges factor in demonstrated interest to admissions and aid decisions, wanting to admit applicants who will enroll. The idea is to have better planning and to improve the yield, the percentage of admitted applicants who enroll. A new research paper suggests that demonstrated interest has become another way wealthy students have an extra edge -- and recommends that colleges consider policy changes as a result.

Survey of non-college credentials - A new report seeks to describe the landscape of non-degree postsecondary training, with a focus on five categories: certificate programs, work-based training (such as apprenticeships), skills-based short programs (coding boot camps), massive open online courses and other online microcredentials, and competency-based education programs. The report's authors work for Ithaka S+R, a nonprofit research group. The Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences commissioned the landscape survey. Rather than being left behind, the report found that colleges are increasingly important players in developing alternative credentialing pathways.

There are 2.4 million fewer college students than there were five years ago – The number of college and university students has dropped for five straight years, to about 18 million in the semester just ended, and no upswing is expected until 2023. What growth does lie ahead will come from places where students are most likely to need more financial aid and support. 

‘Breakaway Learners’ – Many students arrive at colleges and universities at substantial risk of dropping out. They may lack the academic preparation, the money and the support structure to succeed. A new book, Breakaway Learners: Strategies for Postsecondary Success with At-Risk Students (Teachers College Press), offers a path forward for colleges to create paths for these students. The author is Karen Gross, a consultant who formerly was president of Southern Vermont College and senior policy adviser to the United States Department of Education.

It’s not parents who make the biggest contribution to college costs – Financial aid is now the single biggest source of funds in paying for a college education, according to new research. Scholarships and grants make up more than a third of college costs, outstripping the contributions made by parents and students themselves. And the financial commitment is increasingly unlikely to end with a first degree, with a graduate degree becoming an expectation rather than an optional extra.

More Notes

Teachers with student debt: these are their stories

Report: Colleges’ experiences integrating support services for military veterans

Here’s what hotels and higher ed have in common

Mattress protest and its aftermath

A deportation case galvanizes a campus

New class leads to big gains in number of girls, minorities taking AP computer science exams