Coming Soon: The Death of Accreditation
Jun 17, 2011
- Posted by:
- John Hall
Many in higher education and particularly the for-profit sector were expecting the worst from the Department of Education as it handed down its final so-called gainful employment regulations. While far from ideal, several for-profit leaders I have spoken with are just thankful that the final rules were not as severe as they could have been. From my vantage point, gainful employment regulations no matter how flexible they might be highlight a dangerous trend in American higher education- the slow and painful death of our system of accreditation. More so, there is only one real alternative to accreditation – a United States Ministry of Education. This is what really keeps me up at night!
The new regulations DOE has implemented over the past two (2) years – rules that regulate how credit hours should be defined, subject schools to regulations of every state government outside of the jurisdiction a school has locations, and gainful employment are harmful and unprecedented intrusions. These regulations threaten institutional autonomy and our system of accreditation that is envied around the world. They also compromise America’s leadership position in higher education as well as quality, innovation, and access.
With each entry into the Federal Register, DOE has put rules in place that undermine accreditation agency roles and challenge long-sacred institutional independence from government. Washington can now indirectly influence which programs schools offer, program design, instructional methods, curriculum, academic standards, where schools can recruit certain students from, and even the setting of tuition rates!
While several administrators at private not-for-profit and public institutions point out that these new regulations were enacted to restrict the activities of certain bad actors in the for-profit sector, these regulations impact ALL institutions. They can be applied and expanded to further usurp institutional autonomy and our system of accreditation at anytime.
As the United States moves forward on the ill-fated path toward the establishment of a quasi Ministry of Education, our international counterparts are moving in droves away from public regulatory models and to a more American system of accreditation. One of the most extreme examples of contemporary government regulation can be found in France, which Chevalillier (1998) asserts was considered to be the “most centralized and bureaucratic system in the Western world.” Although there have been notable reforms in France since the late 1980s, their Ministry of Education still provides weekly directives to institutional administrators which include “instructions on every aspect of the life and work of their institutions.” Due to years of extensive centralized regulation, even with greater autonomy, many French institutions lack dynamic and progressive leadership, coherent strategic planning, and innovating as the result of an engrained culture of dependency on regulatory direction (Chevaillier, 1998).
Even proponents of public regulation acknowledge that institutions in countries with extensive regulation lack the prestige and excellence of schools that are found in the United States. Researchers, Jacobs and Van Der Ploeg (2006) found that top European students and academics flock to universities in the United States and that continental Europe, which has historically maintained extensive public regulatory structures over higher education, has only a handful of top-ranked post-secondary institutions compared to the United States.
Public regulation typically includes not only government-run accreditation organizations but can also include academic audits, performance based funding, national assessment examinations, and national standards (Dill, 2007). In many cases, however, a traditional public regulatory scenario includes significant government intervention that can include a centralized ministry of education hiring/appointing institutional administrators, interfering in instructional matters, and directly or indirectly managing day-to-day operations at the institutional level (Musselin, 1997).
Outside of the arguments about precedence and if public regulation is something we in higher education “want,” we need to look at efficacy. We have to look no further than our K-12 system to predict the success or failure of increased public regulation at the federal level. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was enacted in 2002 with admirable goals of enhancing student success, increasing accountability, and closing the achievement gap. I would argue that there are good elements of NCLB, especially those that expanded access as well as student and parental rights. On the other hand, multiple UCLA Civil Rights Project studies in 2009 found that this massive federal intervention failed to improve student achievement, undermined the efforts of the states to improve failing schools, and increased school segregation. NCLB has also created significant disruptions for our teaching professionals that have to teach to standardized tests versus educating our students.
There is no question that our higher education system and accreditation body oversight has its flaws. It can be argued until recently some of our accrediting bodies have been asleep at the wheel. Student persistence, the cost of higher education (and its return on investment), academic quality, student loan debt, operating inefficiencies, and institutional sustainability are all serious issues plaguing many of our post-secondary schools. Certain schools have performed terribly (i.e. low graduation rates, high default rates, the lack of job placement, financial problems, etc). Experience, however, shows us that federal intervention will not address these issues. In fact, if NCLB is a predictor, DOE’s continued intrusions into higher education will not improve student outcomes and could actually deny access to quality educational opportunities to disadvantaged students.
Accreditation agencies must address the aforementioned issues impacting higher education today and many of them have begun sustained efforts to do so. Our system of accreditation best supports the diversity of post-secondary institutions and can make the necessary improvements to become even more effective overseers of higher education quality (Eaton, 2007; Ikenberry, 2009). Further, the system of accreditation is cost effective and efficient compared to increased public regulation (Carnegie Foundation, 1982; Greenlaw, 2008).
With the amount of funds federal taxpayers are putting into the Federal Student Aid Program that go to post-secondary institutions, there is no question that DOE can and should play a role in preventing the abuse of federal funds by certain bad actors. Dictating to schools what programs they can or should offer, indirectly attempting to set prices, restricting where schools can recruit some students from, and getting into issues of instruction are not necessary for DOE to act as an effective steward of federal funds.
The best thing that DOE can do to improve the overall quality of our higher education system in all sectors is to support our accreditation agencies versus undermining their efforts and authority. Accreditation agencies are clearly in the best position to effect this change. DOE only needs to look at NCLB and countries around the world that are moving away from public regulation in favor of the American system of accreditation to understand how its continued regulatory encroachment in higher education will have devastating consequences to our higher education framework.
Everyone in higher education also has a responsibility to “save” our system of accreditation from a slow death. Accrediting bodies need to continue with reforms that will lead to quantifiable improvements in all areas of student success. Faculty and institutional administrations need to take decisive steps that improve operating efficiencies, reduce cost burdens being placed on students and families, provide proactive retention support, offer programs that best prepare our students for workforce needs, and turn sleepy career services offices into state-of-the-art bustling career placement centers. Education management and service providers also have a responsibility to help their institutional clients thrive in the aforementioned areas no matter what specific service they may provide a school. Finally, all stakeholders in higher education need to understand how dangerous DOE’s recent regulations have been for the entire system of post-secondary education. We need to all work together to prevent any further encroachment and detrimental impact to what still remains the strongest higher education system the world has seen.
Greenwood & Hall
John Hall is CEO and Co-Founder of Greenwood & Hall. He is also an Ed.D. candidate at the University of Southern California.
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Washington’s Assault On Students and Non-Profit Education
Apr 07, 2011
- Posted by:
- John Hall
The news for higher education seems to get worse by the day. More and more schools lack sustainable financial models, public institutions are losing billions of dollars in funding due to financial challenges at the state level, and financing for the Pell Grant program that is a key resource for lower income students is at risk. These challenges are amplified by changing demographics that do not support the traditional student model that most schools continue to exclusively rely upon, increased competition, and a heavy resistance to change on many campuses.
The aforementioned issues are even more pronounced for past, present, and prospective consumers of post-secondary education. Student loan debt now exceeds credit card obligations, our institutions are failing to graduate millions of students after saddling them with substantial student loan debt, and many students who are fortunate enough to graduate lack the skills needed by many of our employers. If all this is not enough, our education system continues to enable a pervasive college attainment gap based on socio-economic status. If you are an adult without a college education, poor, a Latino, or African-American, you are significantly less likely to gain access to a quality college education – even if you are college ready!
If there is any time higher education and its most important constituents – the students – need the leadership and support of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), it is right now. Yet, the Department continues on what has arguably become an overzealous trek to rein in for-profit education despite the fact that almost every higher education policy expert acknowledges that these institutions play an important and necessary role in our post-secondary system that could not be replicated by non-profit institutions. With DOE’s ideas on so-called “Gainful Employment” regulations becoming more and more of a political impossibility, the Department continues to push other regulations that it feels will have a restrictive impact on for-profit schools. The most onerous and concerning is the requirement that institutions that offer distance education and online programs to students in states where the school lacks a physical campus be licensed with appropriate state authorities in each individual state that requires (or may require) such registration.
DOE’s position on this regulation is that schools that offer online programs to out-of-state students have always been required to be licensed where required. This is a cynical and disingenuous argument based on how both schools and states have operated as it relates to this issue. What is even more concerning is, in its attempts to make life more difficult for the for-profits, DOE has engaged in a “scorched-earth policy” that in reality will have very little impact on the major for-profits but have a tremendously adverse impact on constituencies that the Department purportedly wants to support – students and non-profit institutions! Perhaps just as ironic, this requirement will be just as difficult for many model smaller, niche for-profit schools that are providing outstanding educational experiences. For obvious reasons, these are schools that the Department should want to showcase.
The large for-profits have teams of lawyers, regulatory affairs staff, and other resources that can quickly interpret individual state mandates and meet them. In fact, of the for-profit executives I have interviewed about this issue over the past several weeks, most look at the state approval requirements as an annoyance but a cost-of-doing business. They are working as we speak to obtain their out-of-state licensing if they currently do not have the credentials. One for-profit official half jokingly told me she believes it will actually provide their school with “another competitive edge” over their non-profit counterparts.
On the other hand, I have had conversations over the past several weeks with at least 10 chancellors and presidents of private not-for-profit and public institutions – the majority of whom have no idea how they are going to comply with this requirement. These officials do not have the staff, available expertise, or the $ 100,000+ in disposable fund to license themselves in each state that requires such approval. As a result, many presidents and other school officials have alluded to me that they will simply not offer their programs in states that require registration or those states that have particularly difficult requirements.
If smaller non-profit institutions – many of which are new entrants to the online learning marketplace that offer higher quality and niche programs have to pull out of specific states, these schools will disproportionately suffer. Recruitment, revenue, and student diversity will all be impacted. This will especially be true of tuition dependent institutions that are experiencing a decline in traditional enrollment and need out-of-state enrollments to sustain their student populations.
While this is a real issue for the financial health and sustainability for some institutions, the larger travesty is if fewer online programs are offered in specific state markets, we are denying students choice and access to quality educational opportunities. In certain states that lack strong not-for-profit online offerings and have public institutions that have to cap other types of enrollment due to budgetary issues, a distance learning program offered by a for-profit may be a student’s only option (assuming one is available).
There have certainly been abuses at some for-profit schools that need to be corrected and taxpayers as well as students deserve a return on investment on our federal student aid programs. As well –intentioned as the Department might be as it relates to the state approval requirements, this policy will hurt the groups that desperately need DOE’s support right now – our non-profit institutions and most importantly our non-traditional learners as well as others that lack appropriate access to solid educational opportunities.
DOE has a statutory role in acting as a limited regulator and a responsible steward of our Title IV aid programs. Requiring schools to participate in up to fifty regulatory schemes is an overreach of the Department’s position in our system of institutional oversight. Otherwise, where will this end? Will a school in one state that recruits traditional students from another state to attend a campus program be required to also register in each state to have the privilege of enrolling those students?
While an imperfect system, DOE should allow our system of private accreditation that is designed to ensure that post-secondary institutions across our country meet minimum uniform standards to operate as intended – negating the need for this type of regulation. All the regional and major national accrediting agencies have implemented meaningful reforms over the past year and are best up for this job.
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John Hall is CEO and Co-Founder of Greenwood & Hall. He is also an Ed.D. candidate at the University of Southern California.
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Co-Sourcing Partnering: Building A Sustainable Higher Ed Back Office Business Model
Feb 03, 2011
- Posted by:
- John Hall
Unlike its traditional outsourcing forbearers, co-sourcing involves a partnership of equals, providing a one-stop total solution from the student’s perspective, making high-quality academic programs available at affordable prices, and increasing the institution’s value proposition yield and competitiveness. Importantly, the cost savings can be reinvested in the institution’s own workforce for their professional development and enrichment in consideration of their service to the college or university.
What if there was a one-stop, total solution for an institution to gain quality improvement, economies of scale, efficiency in increased conversion yield, increased student retention and academic success and competitive market advantages commonly associated with traditional outsourcing without adverse operations and impact on the institution’s current workforce? Imagine a scenario where both the institution and employees would actually benefit with quality services, cost savings and the time to focus on the college’s true mission of teaching, research and community service.
It is currently taking place with great success at other higher education institutions through dynamic co-sourcing. Unlike outsourcing, a co-sourcing arrangement involves equal collaboration between the employees of an institution and those of the outside partner. By placing both partners on the same page, partners can help colleges and universities meet institutional and strategic goals – the result usually being something positive that generates new sources of revenues for an institution or efficiencies that enable an institution’s employees to be more successful in their roles.
In the era of doing more with less and effective management, co-sourcing is a reality in higher education today. A recent Chronicle of Higher Education article “Student Services, in Outside Hands” stated that co-sourcing “can benefit more that the bottom line: More so than colleges, specialized companies may have the focus to hone one process or tool, the flexibility to innovate, and the scale to operate more efficiently”.
Co-sourcing provides institutions with a wide array of expensive technologies and expertise for both small and large institutions who choose to increase their bottom line results. Furthermore, a co-souring partner works in tandem with an institution’s processes and culture. In essence, an organization gains all the benefits of outsourcing without having to make hard sacrifices whether control or reductions in workforce.
Sounds too good to be true?
Consider the major public university that co-sources its telephone financial aid advising. The co-sourcing partner provides costly technology that the institution otherwise could not afford as well as the ability to scale staff during periods of peak demand. The school’s internal staff approves of the relationship because it enables them to focus on students that walk into their offices with more complex advising needs versus answering congested phone lines and mostly general questions. The three-year relationship has also enabled the institution to hire more unionized financial aid employees.
Consider the case of the typical small, tuition dependent, private not-for-profit institution. This school wanted to offer continuing education programs to subsidize its traditional population and growth. At the same time, it had few resources, expertise, or capital to compete against the big for-profit education corporations. The institution turned to a co-sourcing partner who was able to provide the marketing, technology, and recruitment expertise to help this otherwise small not-for-profit college effectively compete for students in a difficult marketplace.
Today, this institution generates tens-of-millions of dollars annually from its distance learning programs and, despite the recession, has not had to resort to any layoffs or cutbacks. Conversely, the school has actually grown its employee ranks since 2008. The co-sourcing relationship has been a win for the institution, its workforce, and the school’s outside partner.
Co-sourcing is quickly becoming the sustainable, forward-looking trend that benefits all parties, allowing an institution to benefit from the core advantages that outsourcing can create, without encountering adverse impacts. Unlike outsourcing, co-sourcing is a concept that all constituencies at an institution can get behind and benefit from.
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It’s Reenrollment & Retention, Stupid!
Nov 18, 2010
- Posted by:
- John Hall
In 1992, Bill Clinton rode to victory over a president that just a year earlier registered a nearly 90% public approval level in the wake of the first Gulf War. Many political observers argued that the victory was made possible by Clinton’s understanding of these four words – “It’s The Economy, Stupid!” With the current turbulence and uncertainty in the non-traditional student marketplace, especially for for-profit schools, we think that we will begin hearing the words, “It’s Reenrollment & Retention, Stupid,” in the very near future.
While many for-profit institutions are fearful that new enrollment growth will be severely curtailed by increased scrutiny and pending “Gainful Employment” regulations, many schools that have been successful with their recruitment over the past years are sitting on a potential goldmine that can help buffer their financial performance during the short-term even if they experience declining rates of new enrollment growth. In the long-term, this treasure chest can help create substantial new enrollment growth as well as many other benefits.
What is this panacea? It is Reenrollment & Retention! We will leave out the other part of the phrase as none of our clients and readers are stupid! That said, if schools focus on these areas with even half the intensity that some focus on recruitment, they will be amazed by the positive results.
We all know what retention is. We may, however, not be as familiar with the term reenrollment. Reenrollment intervention is the practice of ensuring that students reenroll each term instead of stopping out of a program. This is especially important for non-traditional learners such as online students who are taking part in accelerated terms (some as few as 4-5 weeks.). Unlike traditional or campus-based students, these learners are not physically connected to an institution. As a result, they may not know what they need to do and when they need to do it – to maintain continuous enrollment. These learners are also leading busy lives where educational pursuits often take a back seat to professional and family needs.
The benefits of ensuring on-going enrollment are clear. First, an institution maximizes its tuition revenue. In the long term, we have found that students that do not stop-out are less likely to dropout of a program altogether, thereby, improving retention. Even the most committed and engaged students are more likely to leave for good if they stop-out for even one-term, unless they are actively encouraged to return.
Although the right reenrollment platform can dramatically reduce stop-outs, it is difficult to eliminate them all especially as it relates to non-traditional students. Work, military deployment, health problems, finances, or family issues are all reasons why a student may need to sit out a term. Reenrollment intervention is designed to maintain contact and connection with these students with the goal of them resuming their education as quickly as practical.
I can attest to this first-hand. In 2009, I began a full-time classroom doctoral program on the weekends at the University of Southern California. I loved my first few terms and could not imagine ever not completing the program. Well early this year, my Mother passed away unexpectedly and at the same time we landed a large contract that took much of my attention. I decided to stop-out a term during the add/drop period which was a wise decision. During that term, I became quite accustomed to having my weekends free again. When it came time to register for the next term, I came up with a handful of compelling reasons why I could not return at least immediately.
With the growth of my business, being a parent, etc., chances are had I not returned, I would have put off doing so even though that was not my original intention. What inspired me to return despite all the reasons I had not to? A mentee and client of mine in higher education essentially told me “I had to.” You can’t say no to a client! I was also motivated by calls and emails I received from fellow students in my cohort who told me they were looking forward to seeing me in the next class. So, I went back and I am working on my dissertation as we speak. Luckily, I had a strong social network that motivated me to return to school.
But what about the single mother of 3 children who has been out of school for the past 20 years and is working on completing her bachelor’s degree? Does that student have a mentor and classmates that are holding them accountable? Probably not! That’s where reenrollment comes into play!
Reenrollment provides a consistent, personalized support system for every student. Each student is assigned a dedicated counselor that follows a very specific methodology that enables them to build a relationship with their students, check-in with them often, and help them through obstacles that can cause a temporary or permanent stop-out (or even a class drop). Coupled with proprietary tracking and relationship management technology, these counselors can have profound impacts on student persistence as well as enhancing student connectivity to a particular institution.
Similar to an Enrollment Counselor that works tirelessly to recruit a new student, a Reenrollment professional works diligently to stay connected with their students on a regular basis and sometimes more often if a student has not been attending class, made a payment, registered, or just needs extra encouragement. Reenrollment personnel typically have the same or greater qualifications than Enrollment Counselors. In fact, many of our Reenrollment team members have Masters degrees. Like a recruiter, they do what it takes to reach their students – email, phone calls, text messages. If they cannot reach a student during their shift, they call that student on the weekends or well into the evening. They do whatever it takes to ensure student persistence, success, and the removal of as many obstacles as possible. As a result, the return-on-investment to an institution can be considerable.
We work with an institution with a large online presence. Prior to a reenrollment intervention program, an average of 22% of the program’s students were dropping at least one class each term – mainly due to minor reasons including not having the appropriate text book, forgetting to login to a class, not registering for class, forgetting to make a payment, etc. Within six months, the drop rate was down to 8%!
Another institution we work with was losing over 30% of their revenue every term due to drops and 72% of the students that stopped out never returned. Within a year, the introduction of reenrollment support reduced the lost revenue rate to less than 10% and those students that did stop-out returned in subsequent terms 67% of the time – a huge turnaround. This particular school estimates they saved over $ 8 Million in revenue during the first year of providing this valuable support to students. I had the pleasure of attending this institution’s graduation event last spring. I was pleasantly surprised to see students embracing their Reenrollment Counselor more often than anyone else. It illustrated the bond developed by student and their Reenrollment Counselor.
Reenrollment should not be confused with Academic Advising – both which are critical support components. Reenrollment and Academic Advising staff typically coordinate their efforts loosely, however, they play very different roles that are almost impossible to combine without detrimentally impacting either or both Academic Advising and Reenrollment support.
Whether due to recent scrutiny or heavier competition, new student recruitment is generally a costly endeavor. This alone provides schools with a profound financial incentive to take steps to maximize persistence. Reenrollment support can also provide schools with an innovative differentiator in terms of how they support students and fulfill their educational missions. The increased retention that reenrollment counseling can stimulate helps create better student outcomes, higher loan repayment rates, and enhanced institutional reputations. Finally, schools arguably have an ethical and moral responsibility to help students be successful.
Until now, with certain exceptions, it has been mostly not-for-profit institutions that have championed reenrollment solutions. It will be interesting to see if the for-profit sector embraces this type of support and leverages it against their large student populations. Any institution (for-profit or not-for-profit) that is serious about revenue growth and student outcomes should seriously consider this ROI positive support system.
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10 Major Innovations That Key For-Profit Institutions Are Employing Right Now
Nov 09, 2010
- Posted by:
- John Hall
In our last article, we highlighted how for-profit institutions are reinventing themselves in light of proposed Gainful Employment regulations and significant public scrutiny. Some for-profits have taken a wait and see approach. The majority, however, are taking bold steps to maintain their relevance and enrollment growth in this changing environment. Many of these initiatives are focused on increasing student engagement while enhancing learner satisfaction and maximizing best outcomes.
Here are 10 initiatives that both large and small institutions are executing to reinvent and strengthen their offerings. While many of these concepts are not new ideas, schools are utilizing them in innovative ways as they adapt to new realities.
1) Next Generation LMS
For-profit schools are leading the charge to develop intelligent learning management systems (LMS) that determine the most effective learning style to present curriculum to individual students in order to maximize their success. These systems can employ a learning modality that best supports each unique learner on a per lesson or per course basis. Such adaptive learning technologies individualize learning and focus on subject mastery versus simply presentation. Additionally, these technologies have been shown to increase non-traditional student course completion by up to 42%, making them extremely attractive for institutions focused on improving outcomes.
2) Persistence & Motivational Assessments
For-profits are beginning to rely on simple online, non-academic assessments that measure a prospective student’s ability to persist as well as their motivational level. Besides providing key information about a student’s chances for success, these tools are most helpful in helping retention/reenrollment counselors, academic advisors, and instructors to develop individualized counseling and follow-up strategies that best serve a student’s needs. By way of example, if an assessment suggests that a student has limited self-confidence as it relates to their ability to be successful, the student’s retention counselor and academic advisor can check-in with the student more often while faculty can provide extra instructional support and motivation.
3) Reenrollment Counseling & Coaching
Many schools are beginning to realize that enrollment counseling is essential throughout the entire student lifecycle to drive persistence, not just during the recruitment process. During the enrollment process, a student is introduced to a dedicated Reenrollment Counselor who becomes a student’s on-going coach and key point-of-contact. This counselor is responsible for developing a relationship with their students, understanding each student’s unique situations/objectives, and providing motivation to each learner. By checking in with their students at least once a term and personally engaging students more frequently who have failed to login to class, order books, register for a new term, complete their financial aid paperwork, or linking students with school services, such counseling efforts can significantly improve persistence by removing the most common obstacles that routinely cause students to stop-out.
4) Testing Labs
A few for-profits are following the path of high-tech companies that have set-up elaborate testing laboratories to test and improve products. For-profit institutions are testing the effectiveness of everything from new marketing pitches to curriculum and instructional delivery approaches in experimental environments. These labs are relatively new but are beginning to help their for-profit operators improve efficiency and effectiveness.
5) Student Concierge Hotlines
Some schools with non-traditional populations have maintained 24/7 “Student Concierge hotlines for years, however, many more for-profits are beginning to implement these student help desks. Most of these lines can assist students with basic questions regarding registration, financial aid, technical support, and student services. The most innovative hotlines can help students with Microsoft Office questions, providing referrals for day care or community services, and even providing students with connections to real-time tutoring support day or night. More importantly, these hotlines can provide students with a friendly voice, encouragement, and a connection to an institution even on the weekends or late at night when non-traditional students are typically focused on their studies and may need the most support.
6) Career Placement Coaching
A number of for-profits have provided their students with career placement services with mixed success. Now, some for-profits are expanding these placement services to include career coaching that begins immediately upon matriculation. Schools are finding that this coaching not only better positions students to find a job after graduation but also consistently reminds the student why they are in the school in the first place, thereby, theoretically improving retention.
7) Mobile Learning
Just as the computer has been key to the growth of online learning over the past 15 years, many schools are betting that smartphones, iPods, and iPads will take on new prominence in delivering education to students. While smartphones and other mobile devices cannot yet be exclusively used to complete most online programs, many schools are adapting certain types of content so students can learn on the go with their mobile devices. Making content available in this fashion can increase the amount of time students spend engaged in their coursework.
8 All You Can Learn Pricing
Following the not-for-profit Western Governors University model, a few for-profits are considering flat-rate pricing in which students can take as many classes as they can for one flat amount during a term. While the jury is still out on whether this type of model is scalable, some institutions see this tuition arrangement as adding value and encouraging increased student engagement. On the other hand, such arrangements can encourage students to bite off more than they can chew which can detrimentally impact student success and persistence.
9) Practical Learning
Some schools are expanding partnerships with industry, non-profit, and governmental organizations to provide integrated practical learning experiences embedded within their content. More than case studies, these partnerships provide participating schools with customized real-life content that is designed to augment traditional curriculum and expand student engagement as well as mastery of key concepts. One innovative program has even established a unique partnership with a nationwide organization that allows students to participate in an actual hands-on practical learning experience – even on evenings and weekends when they are most likely to have free time. Since doing so, this school has experienced significant increases in student satisfaction and retention.
10) “Smart” Early Alert Systems
We have all heard about the value of early alert systems as it relates to improving retention and overall outcomes. For programs with early alert processes, they are typically limited to detecting students who have failed to login to a course for a pre-determined period of time or are receiving poor grades in a specific course. By the time such information is followed up on, it is often too late to perform a successful intervention. A few schools are looking at ways to make their early warning systems more dynamic and proactive. One school we work with relies on a system that constantly scans for 31 unique warning indicators that may suggest a student might be in jeopardy, providing key information to all stakeholders in a learner’s success – students, retention counselors, academic advisors, and faculty members.
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