Becoming College Ready – Small Steps Help

Date: September 4, 2012 | Joshua Holt | News | Comments Off on Becoming College Ready – Small Steps Help

Having recently blogged about college readiness and setting manageable expectations to accomplish long-term goals, we thought a nice “culmination” to this discussion to bridge the two concepts would be to talk about some checklists that the Department of Education has released that makes the path to going to college more digestible.

Checklists are quite a handy tool when we have set our minds on something in the future.  Like our last post mentioned, long-term goals are more likely to be achieved if we adopt a mentality that allows us to measure our progress and thus internalize the importance of reaching that goal.

So then, for the future college student (and parents of future college students), using this same logic makes sense if the end goal is college admittance (and subsequently college graduation).

What makes these checklists particularly useful is that they are designed for specific grades, and are both academic and financial in nature.  Similar to our own research on the matter, the DOE stresses the importance of planning for this transition early, and have therefore created these checklists to help ease the burden for parents and students who may not know where to start, which can be found on their website

Here are some of the highlights of each checklist:

1. The elementary checklist stresses the importance of reading and developing an excitement and sense of adventure for learning.  Parents should encourage this passion by reading to their children and checking over their homework.  Also, parents should begin the process of saving for their children’s college funds.  It’s never to early to start.

2. The middle school checklist encourages students to begin thinking about why college is important and even promotes the action of students saving for college themselves.  Academic behaviors are important as well, such as developing study habits and becoming involved in after-school activities.

3. The high school checklists (specific for freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors) are more practical and to-the-point, such as learning about FAFSA and how to apply for financial aid and focusing on academic performance to ensure admittance.  It also encourages students to talk to counselors about their available options when considering colleges, something our own research found students are reluctant to do despite its importance.  The application process is also discussed.

There is even a checklist for adults returning to college or going for the first time.

What these plans provide is a way students and parents can work towards the long-term goal of college.  Going to college is a big step in one’s life, and and confusing one.  Mental preparation helps to create realistic expectations for students and parents, as well as helps students along the way in their academic pursuits (as they can internalize the relevance of good grades and extracurricular activities to their ultimate end goal).


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The Economic Benefits of Improving College Graduation Rates

Date: February 28, 2012 | Shawn Herbig | News | Comments Off on The Economic Benefits of Improving College Graduation Rates

We all hear the reports of 9% American unemployment. It’s a disheartening and continuing statistic and one that speaks to the heart of our economy, our educational system, and our social structure.

Interestingly enough, if you drill down into that statistic, there’s a nugget of information that can and should affect priorities of governments and communities as well as families and individuals. If you separate the unemployment numbers into those with college degrees and those without, the unemployment rate is more like 4.5 – 5% for people with college degrees and closer to 11 or 12% for those without, and even up to 14 – 16% for those without even a high school diploma, which gives us an aggregated total, then, of around 9%. So what are we getting at?

It’s a pretty well-known statistic that people with college degrees on average earn one million dollars more over the course of their lifetimes than non-degreed individuals. Even for those who do the same job, the one with the degree makes more.

So what we’re seeing is a movement in several cities in the United States to take steps to get those numbers measured and then increase the college graduation rates in their populations. It’s very much in the best interest of communities and governments to do this because of the impact on city or state revenues and overall attractiveness.

It’s all about business attraction.

All cities and states want to bring businesses into their communities, but companies most often need degreed knowledge workers. And if the college graduation rates are low, attractiveness suffers, and thus city and state revenue hover at levels below their potential.

Influx of business becomes a big win for a city because not only does the business itself pay taxes, which drives revenue, but employees with higher salaries pay higher taxes as well, unemployment reduces, and companies become contributors to the community, enhancing the social and economic development mechanisms of the city and state on the whole.

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The Importance of Measuring College Readiness

Date: February 21, 2012 | Shawn Herbig | News | Comments Off on The Importance of Measuring College Readiness

Businesses need people…that’s a given. And the more advanced, higher level positions demand an educated and skilled workforce. If a company is looking to relocate or add locations, it’s going to do some research, naturally.

If the positions being added require college degrees or advanced experience, then that company wants to know where the pickings will be ripe so they can be confident of being able to fill positions locally and not have to recruit from other cities, which adds expense and time to the hiring process.

So if the company is deciding among locations and your city has a lower percentage of college graduates in its workforce compared to other options, the company will often go elsewhere. You can’t blame them, but it makes it all the more important for communities and civic organizations to promote college readiness in high schools and encourage their citizens to finish degrees and get those diplomas.

One of the biggest fears concerning college, of course, is the expense. It seems so out of reach for so many people, but ICCHE (Index of Community Commitment to Higher Education) comes from an initiative developed by IQS Research that measures a community’s commitment to educating its population through to a bachelor’s degree.

The ICCHE includes programs that focus on high school students who will be going into college, as well as education directed toward parents and adults with existing college credit. It brings awareness about funding, loans, and sponsors, just about anything people need to know about starting or finishing a college degree.

We know that college educated people typically earn vast amounts more over the course of their lifetimes than those without. ICCHE and other programs can help drive graduate numbers up, and as the falling of dominoes, all the other important numbers for the city go up too—tax revenue, employment, and civic involvement, to name a few.

We just need to lay the foundation, bring awareness, and put incentives into place to motivate our citizens to take the risk for a potential great reward for their personal lives as well as the livelihood of their communities.

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Having a Successful First Year in College

Date: August 12, 2011 | Shawn Herbig | News | Comments Off on Having a Successful First Year in College

Over the next few weeks thousands of students will begin a new school year.  Many of those students will be going off to college for the first time.  While this is an exciting time for both students and parents alike, this is also time of fear for many students.  While the excitement will make for an energetic first few weeks, many students will not return for the spring semester. 

We have done a great deal of research on the attitudinal barriers to student success and there are specific fears that students have.  Many of those fears center around family support, peer support, and academic ability.  By applying some basic principles parents can help ensure that their kids will be successful their freshman year in college. 

If you know someone going to college this fall take a look at our summary for a few key areas where you can help your student succeed.

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STATS-DC – session – Best Practices and Public Data

Date: July 28, 2011 | Shawn Herbig | News | Comments Off on STATS-DC – session – Best Practices and Public Data

This blog post is designed to pull some of the different themes from two different sessions.  The first “Best Practices in Linking PK-12 ad Higher Education Data” was a more technology based discussion and the second was a session on NCES data that are available.

The first session focused on the best practice winners from the annual PESC best practices competition.  Lately there has been a strong trend toward best practices that are submitted which focus on linking the work of K-12 with the needs and work of postsecondary researchers. 

This session primarily focused on the underlying data architecture that is required to “link” the data.  By migrating away from EDI and replacing with XML but still retaining a common architecture the data are able to be used more broadly while ensuring greater quality.

Data interoperability is a significant issue.  As a primary research company, IQS Research is fortunate to be able to gather the vast majority of the information we need for our studies.  However, when working with education research there are huge opportunities when we can link our primary research findings, on the individual respondent level, to performance data within the education system.  Furthermore, if those educational performance data are interlinked such that we can trace a student across state lines, across universities, etc, we are able to heighten the data we provide.

These data are currently being analyzed and compared at the aggregate and strata level, but further interoperability ensures that we can drill down to the student level in most cases. That will allow us the ability to identify attitudes and behaviors at the individual level and compare those to the self-reported information for purposes of building regression models and defining predictors for success.

Even though we cannot directly link our data to this information there is still a lot of great secondary research data available to the public at  Under their data tools tab and their surveys and programs tab there are a myriad of studies and data that can be accessed.  Many of these are longitudinal in nature and track students from elementary into their careers (different studies).

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