Monday, September 7, 2009

What Value-Based Questions Would Prospective Students Ask?

If students and their parents were evaluating institutions on value, what questions would they expect to have answered by institutions? Consider the following:

• What percentage of students like me (based on my high school GPA and test scores) graduate with a bachelors degree in dour years? What are the average, cumulative student loan burdens for students like me at graduation (given my average family income)?

• How satisfied are students like me with their experience at your institution? How do you know? Are the results posted on your Website?

• What percentages of your students work while attending colleges? What work study programs and other programs do you offer to enable students to pay for part of their education?

• What percentage of your graduates are employed six months after graduation? How satisfied are they? How did you find out?

• How do you assure that academic offerings in the programs I am interested in are aligned with the needs of employers and the marketplace? How do you know you are succeeding?

• Can students achieve a baccalaureate in three years at your institution (or even less)? How about a 3+2 or 2+2 masters degree (and in what disciplines)? Do you have pathways, bridging, concurrent enrollment and articulation programs with local K-12 schools, community colleges, and other institutions? How about cooperative education programs (and I what disciplines)?

• What mechanism and support services are provided to monitor and support student success – in real time? What are your career planning and placements services like? How highly do they rank in comparison with other schools?

• Does your institution offer “no frills” options? Do you offer a menu of optional learning and experiential electives (e.g., internships, study-abroad, collaborative networks and joint enrollment with international institutions)for extra fees?

• Will your institution allow mw to take online courses from other providers if you are not able to schedule an adequate offering of the courses I need to stay on track with my degree plan? How does this work? Do you utilize relationships with other institutions to provide specialty courses that are not in your catalogue or not available when I will need them?

• What does your institution do to hold down the cost of books, course materials, and “fees”? Do you provide online resources rather than expensive textbooks? Do you provide students with a range of cost options?

• Can I utilize online and/or hybrid courses, coupled with creative scheduling, so that I only need to come to campus one day a week? Why not?

Once enrolled, value-drive institutions are keen on maximizing their opportunities for success. They would expect their institution to provide support services and retention-building analytics and be able to answer the following questions:

• How am I succeeding in this class compared to my classmates? How does my performance compare with students who have taken this course in the past?

• What patterns of engagement have characterized students who have been successful in the past? How does this compare with my record? (e.g., participation in institutional activities, engagement in and use of online resources and materials, other factors)

• In my degree program, what levels of engagement, academic performance, and other factors have led to graduates who were successful in graduating and achieving employment (e.g., results derived from data mining and meta-analysis)

• What importance have co-curricular activities played in the academic and employment success of past graduates? Do you have evidence?

• What competences (e.g., disciplinary knowledge, communication, teamwork, leadership, and others) have employers specified as important for graduates in my major? How can I demonstrate my proficiency and accomplishments in these competences?

Not all students will be strongly value-driven. Some will seek educational and developmental experiences that are highly traditional. But more and more, learners and their parents will select institutions based on their capacity to delivery not just quality – but value.

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