Thursday, June 4, 2015

Articles for June 4, 2015

Serving America's New Traditional Students ( [PDF]
The focus of this short report is on the changing demographics of post-secondary institutions, and that education policy needs to allow access to account for those demographic changes. A key point given is a projection from the U.S. Census Bureau: by 2050, half of the population in the United States will belong to a minority group. Tied with the focus on the need for educational attainment to achieve better income equality, this has strong implications for what colleges are then tasked to do.

While the education than an institution provides must be tailored to the needs of modern workforce, in terms of skills, it must also be tailored to the changing needs and demands of students. 

This means that it is vital for colleges to find out what those needs and demands are. Colleges can no longer be passive about admission and retention; sacrificing rigorous standards cannot be an option either. Furthermore, meeting these needs and demands will require a significant--and risky-- investment, and colleges need to decide if they are willing to make that investment. In this regard, anything less than full commitment will not be successful. 

Online Education Partnerships Increasingly Popular Among Employers (educationdive.come)
When Starbucks first announced its plan to offer subsidized online degree programs, I was skeptical (see Elephants in the Coffee Shop) because doesn't really address the root issue. I'm not sure who benefits from the Starbucks plan, I'm not sure that a degree is always the answer, and I'm not entirely sure that access is truly the problem (it is A problem, but not THE problem). 

This briefing lists two more employers of note who have implemented similar plans: Fiat Chrysler and insurance company Anthem Inc. I'm still a little hesitant to call this type of plan a silver bullet, but I realize its value. Just as there are potential students around who could turn into graduates with support and attention, there are potential students around who have the student skills needed and would thrive in an opportunity like this. We should not deny the second group a chance for the sake of the first group. 

A few questions arise from this situation, though. Do these workers already have a college education? If so, why do they need classes? What is getting taught in these classes post-job that wasn't taught pre-job? Colleges would do well to tap into these programs and take a more proactive approach to addressing that gap, rather than forcing employers to retroactively remedy it. 

If these workers do not already have a college education, what do these employers expect to do once these employees are finished with classes? A promotion? Raise? Do they expect these employees to stay with company? 

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