Thursday, October 09, 2014

Friday Fragments

Several of us have long wondered how it is that for-profit colleges report higher graduation rates than most community colleges.  As Ben Miller points out, the answer is...bad counting!

The key is that for-profits offer far more short-term certificates, and far fewer actual degrees, in their mix.  But as far as grad rates are concerned, a completion is a completion.  So yes, students in six-month certificate programs graduate at higher rates than students in two-year degree programs, for the simple reason that life has less time to interfere.  If you correct for the mix of certificates and degrees, the for-profit advantage melts away.  And community colleges cost students much less.

Kudos to Ben Miller for figuring this out.


A new study shows that “non-first-time” students complete degree programs at significantly lower rates than first-time students.

That’s not surprising, given that colleges were designed for (and to a remarkable extent, still judged by standards appropriate to) recent high school grads.  

I’d be intrigued to see the data broken down by demographics and by onsite-online enrollment.  My guess is that gender is a key variable, and that onsite enrollments are likelier to complete.  

I remain convinced that the next great frontier in higher education, in demographic terms, is adult men.  That’s the group we’ve had the hardest time reaching; adult women return in much larger numbers than adult men.  Looking at age without controlling for gender could lead to some skewed conclusions.  Still, I’m glad to see some serious attention to the question.


The writing gene is showing itself again.  The Boy joined the school newspaper a few years ago, and quickly became its editor.  Now his Lego League team has drafted him to be its copywriter.

Carrying on the tradition, this week, The Girl joined the newspaper.  For a fifth grader, she shows pretty good command of the semicolon.

Some parents beam with pride at kids who can make three-point shots.  Others get excited about musical prowess or the ability to build stuff.  

I get excited when they tackle deadline writing.  

Nerdy parents of the world, unite!