Notes & Coffee: June 26 - July 2

Notes & Coffee is here to keep you informed of all the trending student affairs and higher ed news stories most critical to our field as they develop. In the age of information overload, we’re here to bring you vetted examinations of the stories that matter to our field. We invite you to brew a favorite morning beverage, kick back, relax, and catch yourself up for the week ahead with Notes & Coffee.

"A new day at OCR" – Jackson said that OCR is "committed to discontinuing the legally dubious practice of issuing subregulatory guidance that is then treated through enforcement as binding mandates," and that OCR would no longer impose new regulatory requirements without going through negotiated rule making or other "mandated procedures." She stopped short of vowing to withdraw the most contentious recent guidance, the 2011 Dear Colleague letter regarding Title IX and sexual assault, though Jackson suggested that the agency might engage in negotiated rule making to do "what should have been done the first time around": seek input from a variety of parties to decide on a fair system for all parties.

Understanding public higher education: old structures never die, and they don’t fade away either – The sociologist Burton Clark once talked about the “cooling out function” of community colleges, and that is precisely what they did. Students entered with the ambition to gain a four-year degree but their aspirations “cooled out” however much well meaning administrators and faculty tried. What has changed? A half century ago American public higher education was the envy of the world and the pride of every state. Today, barely a day goes by without the shortfalls of public higher education being discussed and bemoaned.

Report: Online College Students 2017 – In 2016, an estimated 20.5 million students attended college, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. And according to EdTech, one-quarter of college students are enrolled in online courses. At a time when higher education enrollments are flattening or even declining, online education remains a bright spot. But to stand out in an increasingly competitive marketplace, colleges and universities need to understand how to best serve this population.

Homeless college students a new group among the invisible – Renee Westbrook is a mature, middle class, college-educated African American woman, a former journalist, who suddenly found herself homeless. I met her at the San Diego International Fringe Festival where we are both performing our one-person plays. Mine is called “Amok Monologues: Short History of an American Filipino (NPR, Harvard, Death on Mission St.). Westbrook’s is called “Shelter,” her personal tale of seeking shelter for the night and finding she is not alone. She tells stories of other people of different ethnicities, circumstances, who found themselves without a place to call home. It can happen to anyone.

Reforming need-based aid – Research indicates that need-based grants like Pell encourage low-income students to enroll in college. Collectively, studies of financial aid suggest that an additional $1,000 in grant aid boosts college enrollment by around 4 percentage points. However, the effect of Pell Grants on persistence and completion is less clear. Some studies show that incentive-based grants – where students receive additional grant aid conditional on achieving academic benchmarks – have positive effects on academic outcomes. Studies of pure grants (without academic benchmarks) show mixed effects on degree completion. Experimental or quasi-experimental studies of grant programs in Wisconsin and Florida found that additional grant aid (beyond the Pell Grant) increased persistence and completion rates by a sizable margin. However, a study of the Gates Millennium Scholarship program found no evidence that scholarship money increased persistence or completion compared to those who did not receive a scholarship.

More Notes

A chance at life: the value of legislative action and institutional leadership for DACA students

How student loans make successful people feel like frauds

The lifelong learning of lifelong inmates

Opinion: Higher education’s new class system

Smarter approach to teaching science