I love the spring. The last day of March, however, brings the reality that Major League Baseball spring training is ending and the hot Arizona summer will soon be upon us.
This is a follow-on to a LinkedIn post I created in 2014 and Titled: The Real Issue: Failing to Graduate is Costly. The statement remains even truer today. The National Center for Education Statistics confirms that the "6-year graduation rate for first-time, full-time undergraduate students who began their pursuit of a bachelor's degree at a 4-year degree-granting institution in fall 2008 was 60 percent."
What has changed is an awareness and a commitment by leaders in higher education such as Arizona State University President, Dr. Michael Crow who recently published a noteworthy article titled. "The Biggest Crisis in Higher Ed Isn't Student Debt, It's Students Who Don't Graduate"
Dr. Crow correctly argues "the greater crisis: the fact that more than half of those who start college fail to finish. Think about it: Tens of millions of people in the US are saddled with student debt and have no degree to help pay it off....In too many cases, they may never recover, leaving them feeling frustrated and bitter, disenfranchised and unable to find a way to better jobs and greater opportunity. Too many, saddled with debt and lacking a degree, feel trapped."
That statement is consistent with the 2014 quote from the New York Times "The vastly bigger problem is the hundreds of thousands of people who emerge from college with a modest amount of debt yet no degree. For them, college is akin to a house that they had to make the down payment on but can’t live in."
As an Arizona State University graduate and active in increasing college access and completion rates through College Success Arizona, I am pleased to read about the success of unique programs that Dr. Crow highlights such as eAdvisor and Major Maps. In addition, he reminds us of the value of corporate partnerships such as the College Achievement Plan created between ASU and Starbucks that aims to help Starbuck's employees their degrees.
In addition to the innovative approaches ASU has taken, more can be done to improve efforts to promote greater student success. Three specific topics that interest me that are worth greater discussion.
- Understanding Pipeline issues - specifically the academic readiness of students who enroll in college with insufficient skills to complete college level requirements. Articulating these common expectations is not just about a test score but about making sure that national curriculums meet international standards for literacy and numeracy.
- Understanding Family support - Academic achievement often reflects more complex factors such family socio-economic and educational attainment. Research from College Parents of America (where I serve as a Director) indicates that students with family support are more likely to graduate than those that have little to none.
- Understanding Risks that can Disrupt an Education - Next to the ability to afford college and complete the academic work, students report that "life-got-in-the-way" as the third reason why they may not complete a degree program. Growing efforts by schools to anticipate and provide protection from these unexpected events is noteworthy. Three small examples include efforts to provide robust residence life programs, student health, and counseling programs.
It is useful to broaden the discussion regarding student success and to give greater focus to the larger, more enduring problem of college completion. This is a big part of why Bill Suneson and I founded GradGuard. Our mission is to promote greater student success by helping to protect the investment students and their families make in a higher education.
GradGuard's student benefit programs help students and their families overcome the financial losses that can result from student illnesses, injuries, addiction, the death of a tuition payer as well as theft and even property damages.
Thankfully, more than 200 schools recognize the value of providing GradGuard to protect their students and provide convenient opportunities to enroll in our Tuition Protection Plan and College Renters Insurance Plan to help reduce the financial losses that may otherwise interrupt a student's path towards graduation.
It was wonderful to see so many colleagues last week attending the annual ACUHO-I Business Operations conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. Arizona is home for many of our GradGuard team so it was terrific to host our many school clients near our headquarters in Phoenix.
Our GradGuard team is looking forward to the annual ACUHO-I conference this week in Seattle. The annual ACUHO-I meeting is the best gathering of leaders in student housing and residence life. Given the value of residential life to increasing college completion rates, GradGuard invests in supporting this community of higher education and housing professionals.
Kelly Field wrote in the November 25, 2015 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education an important article (“How Much Can Campus-Crime Reports Tell Us About Sexual Assault?”) on what campus crime reports reveal about sexual assaults on college campuses.
Topics: Student Life, college theft, Financial Literacy, College Life Protected, Student Risk Management, Best Practices by Colleges, Higher Education Policy, Transparency, Risk Management, ACUHOI, Clery Act, Campus Crime, Campus Safety, Higher Education
Twitter is a vibrant social media channel with colleagues in and around the college and university marketplace.
Here are some of my favorite voices within organizations, companies and associations who give voice to topics of higher education safety, student conduct and risk management. Please share other voices who should be included:
The United States Department of Fire Administration published a useful report titled "Campus Fire Fatalities in Residential Buildings" detailing the factors that are leading to the unnecessary fire deaths of college students.
The study provides an analysis of the last 16 academic years from 2000 through 2015. During this time there were 85 fatal fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities and off-campus housing, resulting in 118 fatalities — an average of approximately seven per school year.
The key insights for higher education leaders, students and their families are these:
- An astonishing 94% of fatal campus fires examined took place in off-campus housing.
- Smoke alarms were either missing or had been tam- pered with (disconnected or battery removed) in 58% of fatal campus fires.
- Fire sprinklers were not present in any of the 85 fatal campus fires.
- A disproportionate number of fatal campus fires occurred on the weekend — 70% on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
- Males were more likely than females to die in campus fires, accounting for 67% of all victims.
- Alcohol was a factor in 76% of all fatal campus fires — fires where at least one of the students was drinking and, according to reports, legally drunk, which is at or above 0.08 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
- Smoking (29%) was the leading cause of fatal fires in campus housing, followed by intentional actions (16%), electrical (11%) and cooking (9%), with 18% of the fires classified as cause undetermined.
- The adage “nothing good happens after midnight” rings true for fatal campus fires, with 73% occurring between midnight and 6 a.m.
Insights for Student Housing and University Risk Managers:
The report provides comprehensive information about how to reduce and prevent injuries and deaths on college campuses in the future.
- On-campus residential housing has become safer, with modern alarm systems and fire sprinklers protecting students. The last fire fatality in an on-campus dormitory took place in April 2005.
- Smoking is now prohibited in most college residence halls. Along with intricate alarm systems and fire suppression equipment, the problem of smoking-caused deaths is virtually nonexistent on campus.
- Off-campus living remains the highest risk for fatal fires, with more than 90 percent of campus fire deaths occurring in these dwellings. Colleges need to work with the surrounding neighborhoods. Universities are often the financial juggernaut in these towns and cities, and they have the ability to effect change.
This report also demonstrates the value of the reporting required under the Clery Act. Though some schools are reluctant to publish data this illustrates the benefits of best practices that colleges and universities have implemented.
The report's conclusion suggests a broad message for the stakeholders. Specifically it reveals "Ex malo bonum,” the Latin phrase meaning “out of bad comes good,” has taken hold on many college campuses. At GradGuard, we seek to help schools implement best practices that help protect their students from unexpected financial losses. Our student benefit programs - particularly tuition and renters insurance programs - do make "good out of bad".
Please contact us to learn more about how we can support your mission.