EDU news curated by Kiosk: Affirmative action in admissions and other higher ed news

Enrollment Marketing After Affirmative Action

From Kiosk: In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision on June 29, 2023, which struck down affirmative action in college admissions, enrollment marketers face a pivotal and transformative challenge. While the ruling curtails the direct consideration of race in admissions, enrollment marketers can (and should) continue to strive for diversity in their applicant pools. Chief Justice John Roberts, in his majority opinion, delineates a nuanced pathway for institutions, highlighting that while direct consideration of race is restricted, the impact of race on an applicant’s life experiences and character remains a valuable aspect of their application, “At the same time, nothing prohibits universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected the applicant’s life, so long as that discussion is concretely tied to a quality of character or unique ability that the particular applicant can contribute to the university.”


Post-Affirmative Action, Views on Admissions Differ by Race

From Gallup: “A Gallup Center on Black Voices survey finds that about two in three Americans (68%) say the Supreme Court’s June 2023 ruling to end the use of race and ethnicity in university admission decisions is ‘mostly a good thing.’ … majorities of Asian, White and Hispanic adults view the ruling mostly positively. … About half of Black adults say the ruling will negatively impact higher education in the U.S. (50%) and the ability of applicants of their own race to attend college (52%). However, 33% of Black adults view the decision as a positive development, saying it will positively impact higher education, while 27% say it will make it easier for Black applicants.”


How the Supreme Court affirmative action decision is affecting college applicants. ‘The barriers are already so high,’ one legal expert says

From CNBC: “Already, the number of applicants from below-median-income ZIP codes is notably higher, rising 12%, while more students requested a fee waiver, which is often used as a proxy for low-income status, according to the Common App. These changes may be explained, in part, by an effort on behalf of colleges to enhance their recruitment efforts and financial aid awards, according to Bryan Cook, director of higher education policy at the Urban Institute… For many families, the price tag is the most significant sticking point when it comes to college access…The share of Black households that have student debt is 14 percentage points above the comparable share among all families.”


2024 Begins With Wave of Job Cuts

From Inside Higher Education: “The University of New Hampshire plans to make deep cuts—up to 75 employees…to reduce expenses by $14 million…The University of North Carolina at Greensboro identified 19 programs for elimination…Eastern Gateway Community College will cut 28 jobs…in an effort to save $1.3 million…Youngstown State University intends to cut five programs due to low enrollment, eliminating 13 faculty positions…Goddard College is moving online, at least temporarily…The University of Chicago, one of the wealthiest in the U.S…has enacted a hiring freeze due to a $239 million budget deficit..While it has not announced any job cuts, Penn State plans to cut an estimated $94 million from the 2023–26 budget.”


After its college closes, a rural community fights to keep a path to education open

From Hechinger Report: …There are only about 80  two-year private, nonprofit colleges left, fewer than half as many as just 30 years ago…Chatfield has been shut down for a year now…In this case, however, something unusual has happened: The assets left by the defunct college are being used to help at least some local students continue their educations past high school…Called the Chatfield Edge, it has provided volunteer mentors, career counseling, assistance with admission and financial aid applications and other help to 21 students, and scholarships of about $1,500 per semester to 19 of them, said David Hesson, director of programs, who was an associate dean at the college.


For Some Professors, Taylor Swift Is a Student-Engagement Tactic

From The Chronicle: “Scala, a professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin, had tried several themes, including the Harry Potter series, to engage students in a freshman honors seminar focused on critical reading and analysis. But things weren’t clicking. Then Taylor Swift took the course to places it’d never been…‘I can’t make her as good as Shakespeare,’ she said. But that’s not the purpose of the course. ‘Students are willing to spend the time listening to her albums over and over and over again,’ Scala said. ‘That willingness to patiently take something apart and think about it, historicize it, research it’ is an essential part of learning. Even, she said, ‘if I have to use Taylor Swift’s music to get them to see that, that is a valuable thing to do.’”


Earning a Degree Helps Some, Not All, Pay Back Student Loans

From Inside Higher Education: “After four years, non completers owed a total of nearly $1 billion more (from $14.9 billion to $15.8 billion) than the amount they initially borrowed, which reflects borrowers who don’t make high enough payments to keep up with accumulating interest on their federal loans… By comparison, borrowers who completed their degree or credential owed $3.3 billion less (from $53.2 billion to $49.9 billion) than what they initially borrowed…However, the difference between what completers owed versus non completers was not nearly as stark for borrowers who attended two-year colleges or certificate programs.”


Students Distancing From Distance Learning

From Inside Higher Education: “The number of students participating in online learning is continuing a post-pandemic decline, new enrollment data show. In the 2022–23 academic year, a little over half of U.S. students—53 percent—were enrolled in at least one online course, according to National Center for Education Statistics data released last week. That dipped from 2021’s fall enrollment, which counted 59 percent of students online in some way. The decline was not unexpected given the surge of remote learning during the 2019–20 academic year, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic…Despite the gradual three-year decline, the popularity of online learning still stayed above pre-pandemic levels. In 2018–19, only 35 percent of students took online courses.”


FAFSA: US student aid woes slow admissions cycle

From Times Higher Education: “Many US colleges and universities are shifting their admissions timelines for the coming academic year while the federal government fixes an overhaul of its student aid systems that was meant to help low-income students but could now end up deterring them. Selective institutions typically set a 1 May deadline for accepted first-year students to say whether they will enroll in the coming academic year. Because of the troubles, the major US higher education associations are suggesting, and many institutions are agreeing, to push that requirement back at least a month.”


After pioneering edX, Harvard and MIT tackle online access afresh

From Times Higher Education: “The two elite universities, through a non-profit they call the Axim Collaborative, have begun redirecting slices of their $800 million payout from the edX sale towards funding projects designed largely to benefit low-income and non-traditional students. To lead Axim on that mission, the universities have chosen Stephanie Khurana, a Harvard-affiliated expert in social venture philanthropy and technological innovation who has begun identifying partners – largely university-based – with demonstrable skills in using technology to improve overall student success.”


Most students use AI for studies, digital divide emerges – Survey

From University World News: “Generative AI has become normalised in British universities, with most students using an AI tool to support studying and only 5% likely using AI to cheat, a first national survey of students and AI since the advent of ChatGPT has revealed…‘For every student who uses generative AI every day, there is another who has never opened ChatGPT or Google Bard, which gives some students a huge advantage,’ said report author Josh Freeman, policy manager at the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), in a release. Male and Asian students are more likely to have used AI than others…According to the policy note, 66% of students consider it acceptable to use generative AI for explaining concepts, 54% for suggesting research ideas and 53% for summarising articles.”

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