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Which Colleges Might Give You The Best Bang For Your Buck?

NPR – Sophia Alvarez Boyd

“The cost of college is high and rising, while a bachelor’s degree is practically required to get ahead. It’s hard enough for a family with means to get a student through school these days, let alone a low-income family. So, are the immediate costs of college, and the loans that can follow, worth it? A recent study took a look at each college in America and calculated the number of low-income graduates who wound up being top income earners. We call that mobility. The study comes from the Equality of Opportunity Project and is paired with an interactive tool from the New York Times.”(more)

Trying to Solve a Bigger Math Problem

The New York Times – Emily Hanford

“Algebra is clearly a stumbling block for many incoming college students. Nearly 60 percent of community college students end up in remedial math — that’s more than double the number in remedial English. Four-year public colleges are not far behind. According to government studies, 40 percent of their incoming students take at least one remedial class; 33 percent are in math. One explanation is obvious: limited academic preparation. Another is that much of the community college population is older, and rusty at factoring quadratics and finding inverse functions. Less obvious is that students end up in remediation who don’t need to be there.”(more)

Most colleges enroll many students who aren’t prepared for higher education

The Hechinger Report – Sarah Butrymowicz

“The vast majority of public two- and four-year colleges report enrolling students – more than half a million of them–who are not ready for college-level work, a Hechinger Report investigation of 44 states has found. The numbers reveal a glaring gap in the nation’s education system: A high school diploma, no matter how recently earned, doesn’t guarantee that students are prepared for college courses. Higher education institutions across the country are forced to spend time, money and energy to solve this disconnect. They must determine who’s not ready for college and attempt to get those students up to speed as quickly as possible, or risk losing them altogether.”(more)

Separate cooperative and basic skills education

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

Cooperative learning first gained traction as an instructional method in the 1970s and was widely implemented in K-12 classrooms by the 1990s. It is based on the premise that collaborative participation creates an enhanced learning experience. Proponents of this teaching strategy site improved student communication, heightened oral skill development, more advanced learning, and enhanced student responsibility.

Cooperative learning, however, is not without challenges. One of the biggest obstacles to effective cooperative learning is a negative group dynamic. Conflicts between individuals can reduce a group’s ability to work together and problems are magnified when members are too immature to adequately resolve conflicts. To make matters more challenging, personality mismatches can stall learning even when no overt conflicts are present. In addition, assertive students often move into leadership roles even when they are not best suited to direct a project.

Beyond personality issues, cooperative learning can also result in uneven workloads. When this type of learning is working efficiently, students support and inspire one another. Everyone has a similar workload and everyone learns. In many instances, however, more advanced students take over projects rather than spending extra time to help struggling students. In addition, unmotivated students often rely on more conscientious team members to complete required work. The result is not only an uneven workload but also uneven learning that leaves struggling students behind, permits lazy students to slide by, and allows more advanced students to stagnate.

Also, student evaluations for group assignments are challenging. It is often impossible to evaluate group members individually. This can result in all group members receiving the same grade regardless of how much they participated and contributed. In addition to artificially high or low marks, it is difficult to determine gaps in student understanding. This proficiency issue is particularly problematic in subjects like math, science, grammar, and writing where learning is cumulative.

It is not that the skills associated with cooperative learning are not important, but that the academic classroom may not be the best place to teach these skills. Instead of compromising basic learning in science, language arts, math, history, and foreign language we should consider using electives for collaborative activities. In addition, we should give students credit for sports, theater, makerspace (cooperative technical and art gatherings), and other group activities that occur after school hours. This approach would provide kids with an opportunity to build both basic educational and soft skills that are critical for success later in life.

Help your kid graduate college debt-free

USA Today – Devon Delfino

“Today, most parents are saving money for their children’s college education – 72% of them, according to a study by Fidelity Investments. But some 68% of students still graduate school with student loan debt, at an average of $30,000. Here are three ways you can elevate your savings strategy to help your kid graduate without debt.”(more)

The Best Time to Start Saving for Your Child’s College Education

Kiplinger – Scott Vance

“Imagine dropping your kid off at college for the first time. It’s bound to be an emotional day for everyone—just ask any parent who has already done it. Now imagine that same day, and add worrying about whether you can afford all the costs that come with higher education.”(more)