Weekly Research Digest, 10-31-13

A snapshot of recent research
related to postsecondary education

Making Sure They Make It!: Best Practices for Ensuring the Academic Success of First-Generation College Students
Council of Independent Colleges and Walmart, October 2013

In an effort to enhance the success of first-generation college students, a report from the Council of Independent Colleges and Walmart College Success Awards program presents the best practices participating institutions used to address the major challenges most first-generation students face. These challenges include feeling connected to the campus community, being academically prepared for college-level work, and having the financial means to pay for education and related expenses, such as unpaid internships. 

In the News
Chronicle of Higher Education - "10 'Best Practices' for Serving First-Generation Students"

Relative Impact of Interventions to Improve Achievement and Retention in Postsecondary Occupational Programs
National Research Center for Career and Technical Education, October 2013

Primarily, the study found that choosing an occupational major had a positive impact on student outcomes. Other factors made a positive impact on student outcomes, including:

  • Students receiving most types of financial aid
  • Students having higher placement scores, particularly in math
  • Students who took development math
  • Students who had access to tutoring services in the first term

Bridge That Gap: Analyzing the Student Skill Index
Chegg, October 2013

Chegg commissioned Harris Interactive to conduct the Student Skill Index Survey of young adults and hiring managers. The findings reveal "a gap between the skills hiring managers reported seeing in recent graduates and the skills the students perceived themselves as having mastered."

Gaps between these two groups include the following: 

  • Forty-five percent of students believe that degrees from prestigious schools were extremely or very important to employers, compared with 28 percent of hiring managers
  • Seventy-seven percent of students believe that professional or personal connections in their field were important in securing employment, compared with 52 percent of hiring managers
  • Sixty-eight percent of students believe that a high GPA is extremely or very important in getting a job, compared with 48 percent of hiring managers

What matters most to hiring managers are that graduates have demonstrated leadership initiative (93 percent), participated in extracurricular activities related to the field of study (91 percent), and completed a formal internship while in college (82 percent). 

In the News
Inside Higher Ed - "Qualified In Their Own Minds"


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PSCUs open doors to many of the 9 million unemployed and 90 million undereducated Americans by providing a skills-based education. To remain competitive over the next decade, we must identify between 8 and 23 million new workers with postsecondary skills. PSCUs are a necessary part of that solution, having produced over 800,000 degrees last year alone.