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In Search of a Match: A Guide for Helping Students Make Informed College Choices

March 31, 2015

This guide is designed for counselors, teachers, and advisers who work with high school students from low-income families and students who are the first in their families to pursue a college education. It offers strategies for helping these students identify, consider, and enroll in "match" colleges -- that is, selective colleges that are a good fit for students based on their academic profiles, financial considerations, and personal needs. Many of the suggestions in this guide are based on insights and lessons learned from the College Match Program, a pilot program that MDRC codeveloped with several partners and implemented in Chicago and New York City to address the problem of "undermatching," or what happens when capable high school students enroll in colleges for which they are academically overqualified or do not apply to college at all. The key lessons of the College Match Program, which are reflected in this guide, are that students are willing to apply to selective colleges when:* They learn about the range of options available to them.* They engage in the planning process early enough to meet college and financial aid deadlines.* They receive guidance, support, and encouragement at all stages.Informed by those key lessons, the guide tracks the many steps in the college search, application, and selection process, suggesting ways to incorporate a match focus at each stage: creating a match culture, identifying match colleges, applying to match colleges, assessing the costs of various college options, selecting a college, and enrolling in college. Because many students question their ability to succeed academically or fit in socially at a selective college, and because they may hesitate to enroll even when they receive good advice and encouragement, the guide offers tips and strategies to help students build the confidence they need to pursue the best college education available to them. Each section also suggests tools and resources in the form of websites and printed materials that counselors, advisers, and students can use, as well as case studies to illustrate the experiences of College Match participants throughout the process.

Recalibrating Regulation of Colleges and Universities: Report of the Task Force on Federal Regulation of Higher Education

February 9, 2015

The federal government's substantial fiscal investment in higher education recognizes that postsecondary education is a linchpin in the nation's social and economic strength. The government helps ensure that colleges and universities continue to contribute broadly to the fabric of American society. The Department of Education is charged with developing procedures to carry out laws passed by Congress in regard to higher education and with overseeing institutional compliance. Institutions of higher learning recognize the important role regulations play in the oversight of federal investments.This report discovered that over time, oversight of higher education by the Department of Education has expanded and evolved in ways that undermine the ability of colleges and universities to serve students and accomplish their missions. The compliance problem is exacerbated by the sheer volume of mandates -- approximately 2,000 pages of text -- and the reality that the Department of Education issues official guidance to amend or clarify its rules at a rate of more than one document per work day. As a result, colleges and universities find themselves enmeshed in a jungle of red tape, facing rules that are often confusing and difficult to comply with. They must allocate resources to compliance that would be better applied to student education, safety, and innovation in instructional delivery. Clearly, a better approach is needed.

Is Grantmaking Getting Smarter? A National Study of Philanthropic Practice, 2014

November 20, 2014

Grantmakers recognize the value of supporting effective, well-led organizations -- strong organizations create meaningful changes in the world. To help us understand whether we are making progress in supporting nonprofits in ways that allow them to be successful, GEO conducts field research to track trends in grantmaker practice. In short, we want to know: is grantmaking getting smarter? GEO's 2014 study highlights some important shifts in how grantmakers support nonprofit results, but also reveals where we're falling short. To help inform this study, we convened a nonprofit task force and feature the perspective of nonprofit leaders throughout the report to talk about the impact that smarter grantmaking practices have on their work.

The Future of Affirmative Action: New Paths to Higher Education Diversity after Fisher v. University of Texas

April 11, 2014

This new research reveals African-American and Hispanic enrollments at America's 193 most elite colleges would more than double if the top ten percent of every class were guaranteed admission and students from low socioeconomic backgrounds were given an admissions boost.

What America Needs to Know About Higher Education Redesign

February 25, 2014

Finding ways to help more Americans develop and connect their knowledge, skills, and talent with a good job may be the most important economic and human development challenge in this country. To contribute to the dialogue surrounding the importance of post-secondary education in preparing and connecting people with a good job, for the past three years, Lumina and Gallup have been gauging the American public's opinion on the most pressing issues facing higher education today, including cost, access, quality, and workforce readiness. This year, in addition to the annual public opinion poll conducted of the U.S. general population, a second survey was conducted of business leaders in the U.S. to understand their perceptions of post-secondary education and how higher educational institutions are doing in preparing employees for the world of work. Together these studies can help inform what thought leaders and ALL Americans need to know about the value and opportunity that quality higher education affords.

Building Expectations, Delivering Results: Asset-Based Financial Aid and the Future of Higher Education

July 10, 2013

American society reflects considerable class immobility, much of which is due to the wide gap in college completion rates between advantaged and disadvantaged groups of students. This report discusses the factors that cause unequal college completion rates and introduces assets as an explanation stratification scholars often ignore. The following chapters are included in this report: From a Debt-Dependent to an Asset-Based Financial Aid ModelInstitutional Facilitation and CSA (Child Savings Account) EffectsCSAs as an Early Commitment Financial Aid StrategyFrom Disadvantaged Students to College Graduates: The Role of CSAsHow CSAs Facilitate Saving and Asset AccumulationPolicy Discussion

Completing College: A National View of Student Attainment Rates

November 1, 2012

College completion, earning a degree or certificate, is considered to be a key college success outcome, supported by every educational policymaker. Yet, institutions and policymakers in the U.S. know surprisingly little about the rates of completion for students who follow all but the most traditional of postsecondary pathways. This is because traditional graduation rate calculations are institution based and only count students who finish at the same institution where they started. Building on findings from previous reports in the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center's Signature Report series, this new report measures this key college success outcome -- rates of first completion -- encompassing postsecondary credentials of all levels and types at any institution in any state, whether it is the first, second, third, or more, attended.Students in the U.S. pursuing a postsecondary education move along pathways that are increasingly complex. In its second Signature Report, Transfer and Mobility: A National View of Pre-Degree Student Movement in Postsecondary Institutions (Hossler et al., 2012), the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center found that one-third of first-time college students attended multiple institutions before earning a degree or certificate. Nontraditional students, like those who postpone college enrollment after high school, attend college part time, and/or have full-time jobs, have become the new majority among U.S. college students. This emphasizes the limitations of continuing to rely on traditional measures of student and institutional success that describe only first-time full-time students who never enroll at any institution other than their starting institution. Such measures fail to capture the full range of outcomes among today's college students. They also fail to recognize institutional and policy efforts to support students pursuing diverse pathways.This report draws on the Clearinghouse database's near-census national coverage of enrollments and awarded degrees to explore the six-year outcomes of a cohort of first-time-in-college degree-seeking students who started in fall 2006 (N=1,878,484).

The Urgency of Now: The Schott 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males, 2012

September 1, 2012

The Schott Foundation presents a picture of vast inequality, with black males continuing to be the race/ethnicity-gender group least likely to graduate high school in four years, as they have been since 2004. The report cites the need to address the "pushout" and "lockout" crisis in the education system, suggesting support-based reform and highlighting positive solutions.

From Roadblock to Gateway: Improving Developmental Education for Student Success

June 4, 2012

This funder's guide captures themes and lessons from an ongoing body of work that has been supported by a number of funders working to reform developmental education. In June 2011, these funders met with prominent researchers and higher education leaders to examine promising strategies to accelerate student's progress toward earning degrees and credentials by reforming developmental education and by ensuring that more students enter postsecondary institutions prepared to succeed. This brief summarizes key insights from the gathering, from research and from funders' work to identify promising areas for grant makers to support.

Four Essentials for Evaluation

May 30, 2012

GEO created this guide to help grantmakers get to the next level in their evaluation efforts. The target audience is champions and supporters of evaluation who want to embed these practices more deeply in the work of their organizations.The term "evaluation" can refer to a lot of different activities, including data collection, information gathering and research about grantmaker-supported activities. GEO's emphasis, however, is on "evaluation for learning."Evaluation is about more than ensuring that grantees are doing what they promise, or that a specific program area at a foundation is meeting its goals. Rather, it's about advancing knowledge and understanding among grantmakers, their grantees and their partners about what's working, what's not and how to improve their performance over time.Using evaluation in this way requires grantmakers to transform themselves into learning organizations. Beyond getting smarter about specific evaluation methods and approaches, this means adopting a continuous process, a culture and a commitment to support the capacity of people to see patterns and insights that can lead to ever-improving results.

Challenged From the Start: Stories of Student Perseverance and Determination in California's Community Colleges

March 31, 2012

Shares ten students' experiences overcoming obstacles to college success and completion, including severe shortages in course offerings, support services, and financial aid and bureaucratic difficulties. Calls for greater investment and policy reform.

A Stronger Nation Through Higher Education 2012

March 26, 2012

Assesses progress toward the goal of realizing 60 percent postsecondary degree attainment by 2025. Includes attainment rates by race/ethnicity, rankings by metropolitan area, and state profiles with rates by county, benchmark targets, and projections.