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This article originally appeared on Learning English.
Michigan State University has long worked with and competed against other colleges and universities in the United States.
Michigan State, a public research university, often works on joint research projects with other schools. It also belongs to the college sports conference called ‘the Big Ten,’ which actually has 14 member institutions.
Yet in the world of higher education, competition can seem more common than schools working together. That is the opinion of Kristen Renn, a professor of higher education at Michigan State. She says that all of the over 4,000 colleges and universities across the country have different goals to meet.
Unlike governments in some countries, the U.S. federal government does not completely organize higher education. Renn notes that some states even have trouble organizing the public schools they are supposed to operate. Every college and university competes for students, as well as the best teachers and money for research programs.
But one thing almost every institution has in common, Renn says, is the difficulty they face in serving low-income and first generation students.
The National Center for Education Statistics reports that low-income college students are less likely to complete their study programs than other students. In 2015, the center reported that just about 16 percent of the poorest students were able to graduate college. By comparison, about 60 percent of the wealthiest students graduated.
Renn says it was only natural that the leaders of Michigan State and ten other universities discussed this issue when they met in 2014. The 11 schools are spread across the United States and serve different populations and needs. But their leaders all saw improving graduation rates for all students as the biggest problem facing U.S. higher education.
So the group created an organization for sharing information related to this problem. It is called the University Innovation Alliance, or UIA.
Its main goal is to get 68,000 more students at the member institutions to graduate by 2025, with at least half of those students being low-income. The 11 schools now say their number of graduates has increased by over 7,200 in just three years. This includes an almost 25 percent increase in the number of low-income graduates.
How were they able to make this happen? Renn says it began with each university looking at its own situation and finding out what it had been doing right and what it had been doing wrong.
For example, before joining the UIA, academic advising at Michigan State mostly involved reacting to problems students faced after the problems had already arisen. Then school officials heard about a computer program that fellow UIA member Georgia State University was using.
This computer program follows decisions students make about their classes and the progress they are making in their studies. It then sends academic advisors messages whenever a student shows signs they are making mistakes or facing difficulties. That way the advisors can try to help students before the problems become too serious.
Michigan State began using the computer program. Renn says it has meant a world of difference.
“If I’m an academic adviser in chemistry and one of my students drops calculus in the middle of a semester, in previous, advising it was very difficult to identify those students,” she told VOA. “But currently, that student dropping a class would send an alert to the adviser, who then can contact the student and say ‘Why did you drop the class? Did you know this is required? Can we talk about what’s going on?’”
Michigan State has not only received useful information from its partners. It has also shared helpful information of its own, says Renn.
Her university began looking at how it communicated with students. The administration discovered that it was sending so many emails to students that they often overlooked ones with important information. So the school decided to greatly reduce the number of its messages to students, giving more attention to the important ones.
The University of Kansas began doing the same, says DeAngela Burns-Wallace. She is the university’s Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies.
She says Kansas shared information about its work-study programs with the other UIA members. Her school had been offering paid research jobs to undergraduate students so they could support themselves financially and develop an early interest in research.
Burns-Wallace notes that several other schools have begun to do the same. She says it is the free flow of information back and forth between institutions that makes the UIA program so successful.
“I have colleagues that are in financial aid or student affairs or research who can pick up the phone and have a colleague at 11 other institutions give immediate feedbackon a project or … understand how the others have done it and maybe identify other opportunities,” she told VOA.
Bridget Burns is the executive director for the UIA. She says efforts like this have never been as successful because of the way American higher education is designed. For one thing, change does not come quickly to colleges and universities, especially large, public ones. This is not necessarily a bad thing, she argues. After all, it is important for institutions to direct much of their time and energy toward other responsibilities.
But, Burns notes, schools do need to change how they estimate the value of their efforts. Colleges and universities use a lot of different measurements when competing with one another. Yet these often pay more attention to the number of college applicants they deny, instead of noting how many they help, she says.
“There are rankings that measure all kinds of things,” she told VOA. “But how well you do for low income students has not historically been … highlighted. We know that progress is possible, that we can do better. But we need to actually create … rewards to highlight this kind of behavior.”
Burns hopes sharing the successes of the UIA schools will help other colleges and universities think more about their similarities. This includes the problems many of them face.
In the future, Burns does not just want other schools to join her organization just to belong to it. She wants them to learn from the UIA, create their own partnerships, and come up with even more improvements for all college students.
I’m Pete Musto. And I’m Alice Bryant.
Pete Musto reported this for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
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The letter was delivered in response to the department’s request for information regarding the disclosure of confidential wage records under the department’s regulations governing the confidentiality and disclosure of state unemployment compensation data. Strada also included specific recommendations for regulatory amendments.
Report indicates both success and need for improvement in meeting students’ varied goals
A new and improved Free Application for Federal Student Aid expected late this year should provide opportunities for more students and their families to access money to pay for college. Yet the transition to this new form presents unprecedented challenges for those who work to help students complete it.
According to new Strada Education Foundation research, community college attendees who complete an associate degree or successfully transfer to a four-year institution value their education at rates comparable to or higher than recent bachelor’s degree completers. However, researchers found first-generation students rated the value of their community college education about 20 percentage points lower than those who are not first-generation students.
Eloy Ortiz Oakley, president and CEO of College Futures Foundation and former chancellor of the California Community Colleges, will join a Strada Education Foundation webinar Sept. 7, when he and other panelists will explore Strada’s latest report, “The Value of Community Colleges: Recent Students' Motivations and Outcomes,” which captures several factors that motivated recent alumni to enroll in community college.
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This article by Madeline St. Amour originally appeared in Inside Higher Ed.
Virginia’s largest community college and a prominent public research university have co-partnered with an educational management and student support service provider to improve academic outcomes for transfer students.
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DXtera Institute, a nonprofit consortium of higher ed institutions, ed tech companies and other postsecondary education professionals, has released a free Next Generation Integration Scorecard (NGIS) aimed at improving technology integration in higher education.
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This article by Carol D’Amico originally appeared on RealClear Education.
This article by Jeffrey J. Selingo originally appeared on the Washington Post.
The letter alerting Cal State Northridge students that they were being put on academic probation was pretty blunt and scary: shape up or risk getting kicked out.
One of the students leaving today on “Roadtrip Indiana” says she expects an “awakening” of what Indiana is about. Purdue University senior Shannon Newerth is joining two other Indiana students on a two-week RV trip throughout the state to take part in career exploration and work-based learning opportunities. The trip, organized in part by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education and several private partners, will be the subject of an upcoming public television documentary.
As a lifelong baseball fan, former high school baseball player, and coach for 20 years, I have always been struck by how deeply intertwined baseball and learning really are. An education advocate for most of my career, I have seen firsthand how a passion for sports can shift mindsets and create sustainable pathways to college, meaningful careers, and inspired lives.
More than half of adults in the U.S. would change at least one aspect of their higher education experience, according to a new survey from Gallup and the Strada Education Network. Common regrets were choice of institution and major or field of study. Comparatively, relatively few regretted their degree type.
A majority of Americans who attended college say they received a quality education. But half would change at least one of these three decisions if they could do it all over again: the type of degree they pursued or their choice of major or institution.
CLEVELAND, Ohio – Half of college graduates regret their choice of school or major, according to a national survey.
Approximately half of all U.S. adults who pursued or completed a postsecondary degree would change at least one aspect of their education experience if they could do it all over again, including their major or field of study, the institution they attended, or the type of degree they obtained.
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Data analytics has proven to be a powerful tool in a number of industries, and in higher ed, it has significant potential to help institutions streamline operations and improve experiences for students. But in using that data, colleges and universities must also be careful to also consider the underlying causes behind some of those numbers.
This is important news for admissions officers, who may feel that low-income students pose more of a risk at a four-year college or university. These students are just as capable of thriving as those from more affluent households, but institutions and policymakers must also consider that they may need more resources.
In a Monday morning session at the ASU+GSV Summit in Salt Lake City, a panel of thought leaders discussed how to expand access and success, particularly among low-income, first-generation and underrepresented student populations.
INDIANAPOLIS — Higher Education Commissioner Teresa Lubbers recently announced a new initiative, “Roadtrip Indiana,” that aims to help Hoosier students make more informed decisions about their futures through intentional career exploration and direct engagement with employers across the state.