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Tips for filling out the FAFSA as a first-generation college student

The Christian Science Monitor – Devon Delfino

“Being a first-generation college student is a big deal and a huge opportunity. You’ll be the first person in your family to experience the lighter side of college — like experimenting with ill-advised late-night dining options — as well as the more serious ultimate goal: getting a degree. Navigating the college experience is hard enough as it is, but many first-gen students face an even steeper uphill battle: English may not be spoken at home, parents may be working long hours, or affordable tutoring programs may not have been available. Those who do attend college may face higher dropout rates and take longer to graduate. According to the Pell Institute, about 11% of low-income, first-generation students who entered college in 2003 received a bachelor’s degree within six years, compared with 54% of non-low-income, non-first generation students who did.”(more)

Testing College Readiness

Education Next – Ira Nichols-Barrer, Kate Place, Erin Dillon and Brian P. Gill

“The state of Massachusetts introduced a system of standardized testing in its public schools three years before the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 mandated such practices for all 50 states. Although the tests have evolved over time, the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) has been in place ever since. But after Massachusetts adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010, its education leaders faced a decision: whether to stick with MCAS, which it had already revised to align with the Common Core, or switch to a “next-generation” test that was specifically designed for the Common Core—and to assess students’ readiness for college. More than 40 other states have signed on to Common Core, and many face similar decisions about their student assessment systems.”(more)

Data Reveals How Some College Students Sleep

KQED News Mind Shift – Anya Kamenetz

“Sleep has a big impact on learning. And not just when you do it in class. Sleep deprivation affects memory, cognition and motivation, and the effects are compounded when it’s long-term. For those reasons, there’s been lots of interest in the education world in studying the sleep habits of children and adolescents. But until now, most sleep studies have been limited to short-term surveys with small numbers of participants. That’s changing with the advent of wearable activity trackers. These devices include an accelerometer that detects movement and tries to decide whether you are running, sitting or sleeping. They can’t directly measure whether people are asleep, so experts say they’re not as accurate as hooking someone up to machines in a lab.”(more)

Here are the five critical skills every new college graduate should have

The Washington Post – Jeffrey J. Selingo

“Last week, my new book, There Is Life After College, was released by HarperCollins and I’ve been asked several times since then by students, parents, employers, and others about the skills every new college graduate needs to succeed in today’s competitive and ever-changing job market. Here are five critical skills every new college graduate should have:.”(more)

Parents: Teach Your College Bound Students that Their Options are Limitless

The Huffington Post – Hill Harper

“Education is much broader than what is learned within the walls of a classroom. While many students equate success to a diploma, this concept is too ‘small picture’ in today’s educational environment. Instead, success is about finding value and seeking opportunities that build long-term skills and experience beyond grades in a transcript. Students need help preparing for college, and parents must play a role. According to new research from the National Honor Societies, many students rely heavily on parental advice when applying for college. Help set your child up for future success by encouraging them to strive for what may seem beyond their reach: Student council president, captain of the football team or lead in the school play. Empower your child with the confidence to reach beyond what seems attainable and the mindset that the path to success is limitless…Taking the first step in preparing your child for college can be overwhelming. To help you start, the National Honor Societies have identified ways you and your child can work together to get college-ready.”(more)

Rate of increase in degree-holders continues to lag behind national goal

The Hechinger Report – Jon Marcus

“The rate by which Americans are earning two-and-four year degrees continues to lag stubbornly behind what’s needed to meet national goals, and declining college and university enrollments threaten to make things worse, according to a new report. But a change in the way the figure is being calculated has caused a one-time leap in in the percentage of adults considered to have higher educations. The proportion of people with two- or four-year degrees eked up slightly, from 40 percent in 2013 to 40.4 percent in 2014, the most recent period available, the Lumina Foundation reported. That’s compared to about 38 percent in 2008, when a coalition of policymakers set a goal of reaching 60 percent by 2025.”(more)