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February 10, 2015 at 5:00 AM

Annals of a college parent: Keeping tabs on your kid

Back in December, I wrote about how my husband and I were fretting over the likelihood that our son, a freshman at Western Washington University, was going to end up taking more than four years to graduate. That’s the norm these days at many public universities.

As parents of college students, we’re not privy to any of the progress reports, grades, even class schedules that we used to get when our kids were younger. How do we strike a proper balance that keeps us from becoming helicopter parents, yet doesn’t give our son too much free rein — an approach that can be costly to us if he makes an academic mistake?

Kelly Shea / The Seattle Times

Kelly Shea / The Seattle Times

Recently, I received an excellent set of tips from reader Marlo Del Mundo, a Bellevue parent whose son is in his fourth year at the University of Washington in mechanical engineering. Like us, the Del Mundos are paying for most of their son’s college education. They’ve struck some sensible deals with him.

Since they’re footing the bill, they require their son to give them access to his schedule and grades. They sit down with him every quarter to go over his course path, and they also require him to do the same with an academic adviser.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Annals of a college parent, higher education

February 4, 2015 at 5:00 AM

UW Dream Project getting students to college, study shows

Dream Project mentors Gilbert Ko, rear, and Olivia Kozyra work their way around a Renton High classroom during a mentoring session. Photo by Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times 2012.

Dream Project mentors Gilbert Ko, rear, and Olivia Kozyra work their way around a Renton High classroom during a mentoring session. Photo by Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times 2012.

A program that pairs student-mentors from the University of Washington with low-income middle and high school students has had a significant impact helping those students get into college, a new consultant report has concluded.

The program is called the Dream Project, and it was started 10 years ago by University of Washington undergraduates. In 2014, the program touched about 2,000 students at 16 high schools, and another 1,000 middle school students at nine schools.

The program recruits UW undergraduates to go into a select group of Seattle-area high schools and help the younger students work on college applications, financial aid and scholarship paperwork. Called a peer-to-peer mentoring program, the project’s aim is to improve college-going rates for low-income and first-generation high school students. And according to a report by RTI International, a consulting firm based in Berkeley, Calif., it’s doing the job.

RTI’s analysis showed that in 2012, nearly 80 percent of Dream Project participants who enrolled in college went to a four-year college or university — better than comparison districts, and an important measure because students who go to four-year schools are more likely to finish their degrees.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Dream Project, higher education, University of Washington

February 3, 2015 at 11:25 AM

UW President Michael Young to move to Texas A&M

Update | 9:25 p.m. Full story can now be found here, with thoughts about Young’s departure from Young, UW faculty and students, Washington lawmakers and Texas A&M officials. Update | 5:05 p.m. In three weeks, University of Washington President Michael K. Young will officially take the president’s job at Texas A&M University, university officials confirmed Tuesday. “He’s…

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Comments | More in News | Topics: higher education, Michael Young, University of Washington

January 23, 2015 at 5:00 AM

UW reviewing record number of freshman applications

The University of Washington's Seattle campus. Photo by Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times 2010.

The University of Washington’s Seattle campus. Photo by Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times 2010.

The admissions staff at the University of Washington’s Seattle campus has a lot of work cut out for them this winter. The university received a record 36,528 freshman applications for the 2015 academic year, 16 percent more than last year.

Those applications included 11,278 applications from Washington students, compared with 10,541 last year. (These numbers could change — some students may later be classified as in-state residents if their families move here, or they are found to be claiming Washington residency when they don’t qualify.) About two-thirds of available slots in the freshman class are reserved for state residents.

The university continues to receive an ever-increasing number of applications from outside the state; this year, there was a 19 percent increase in applications from out-of-state students overall, and a whopping 31 percent increase in applications from California. Other states with big increases: Massachusetts (29 percent), Illinois (27 percent), Texas (25 percent), Minnesota (24 percent) and New York (23 percent).

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Comments | More in News | Topics: admissions, higher education, University of Washington

January 21, 2015 at 5:00 AM

Why is UW Tacoma’s graduation rate low?

UW-Tacoma campus. Photo by Lindsey Wasson / The Seattle Times 2014.

UW-Tacoma campus. Photo by Lindsey Wasson / The Seattle Times 2014.

During a University of Washington Board of Regents meeting this month, regent Joanne Harrell raised questions about UW Tacoma’s low graduation rates, one of the lowest among public four-year schools in the state.

Turns out that the university is showing steady improvement, but its latest graduation rates aren’t yet available on websites that compile those statistics.

In 2012, UW Tacoma’s six-year graduation rate was just 43 percent — that is, just 43 percent of first-time, full-time students graduated from the school after six years. But UW Tacoma spokesman Mike Wark said that number was likely affected by the relatively new experience of having students on campus for all the years of their schooling.  (UW Tacoma only began accepting freshmen in 2006.)

For 2014, the school’s six-year graduation rate was 52 percent, he said. And for students who transfer to UW Tacoma from other schools (such as community colleges), the graduation rate is 90 percent.

That’s slightly better than the national graduation average of 51 percent of those who start at a public four-year institution and complete their degree at that same school.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: higher education, University of Washington Tacoma

January 15, 2015 at 1:17 PM

Whitman College president a finalist to lead Evergreen

George Bridges, the current president of Whitman College and a former vice provost at the University of Washington, is one of four finalists for president of The Evergreen State College. Almost a year ago, Bridges announced his departure from Whitman at the end of this academic year. He has been president of the small liberal arts college…

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Comments | More in News | Topics: higher education, The Evergreen State College

January 14, 2015 at 5:00 AM

Not your usual 10 tips on how to get the most out of college

William Brown / Op Art

William Brown / Op Art

Advice columns aimed at college students are a dime a dozen, but here’s a “what I wish I knew about college” list that offers a few novel and counterintuitive ideas about getting the most out of the experience, from a Columbia University professor writing on the news website Vox.

Christopher Blattman – he’s an associate professor of political science and international and public affairs — has a list of 10 tips he’s gleaned from his work as a professor. “As it happens, I didn’t follow most of this advice myself, and I could have called this list ‘the 10 things I wish someone had told me,’ ” Blattman wrote.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: higher education

January 9, 2015 at 11:53 AM

Obama wants to make community college free for everyone

President Barack Obama speaks at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tenn., on Friday. Photo by Mark Humphrey / AP.

President Barack Obama speaks at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tenn., on Friday. Photo by Mark Humphrey / AP.

President Obama on Friday outlined a new plan that would make community college free for all students, regardless of income, as long as they make good progress toward earning a degree and maintain a 2.5 grade point average.

The idea is modeled after Tennessee’s free community college program, which begins this fall. Under the proposal, the federal government would pay three-quarters of the cost of going to community college. States would pick up the rest.

“Twelve years is not enough,” said Vice-President Joe Biden during a speech in Tennessee Friday, referring to the need for most workers to get a degree beyond high school. “The world has changed. Competition has changed.”

In Washington state, the proposal was met with enthusiasm.

“We fully support President Obama’s vision,” said Marty Brown, executive director of the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, in an email. “It would be a huge boost to our students and Washington’s economy.  And, nationally, it would  go a long way toward rebuilding the American dream of opportunity and upward mobility.”

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Comments | More in News | Topics: community college, higher education

January 8, 2015 at 11:21 AM

WSU’s online degree programs ranked highly by magazine

Among Washington’s public universities, Washington State University has made a significant effort to build a program of online degrees for students who can’t come to campus for classes.

The results of that work showed this week when WSU was one of just a few Washington universities that made it on a list of the best online degree programs, published by U.S. News & World Report.

WSU’s online bachelor’s program was ranked 20th in the country. It also ranked 21st for its online MBA program, and 29th for its online graduate engineering program.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: online education, Washington State University

January 5, 2015 at 5:00 AM

Report: UW accounting is confusing, lacks consistency

The way that the University of Washington accounts for its costs, and the complexity of its sprawling operations that include a major medical center, have led to a confusing system that makes it difficult for lawmakers and members of the public to understand the university’s financial information, a new report says.

The report was requested by the Washington state Legislature in spring 2014 because lawmakers wanted to better understand where the university spends its money. The 117-page audit was written by Sjoberg Evashenk Consulting, a California business management consultant.

The University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. Photo by Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times 2012.

The University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. Photo by Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times 2012.

The report highlights two key problems: First, in the state’s financial documents, colleges and universities are not reported in a single column, but blended with other agencies, creating a lack of transparency.

Second, the size and scope of the UW’s extensive operations contributes to confusion. The UW’s projected operating budget in 2014 is $6 billion, but only $239 million of that —  roughly 4 percent — comes from state funding. The vast majority of operating revenue comes from tuition, fees, grants, contracts, gifts and operations of its hospitals and other medical clinics.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: higher education, University of Washington

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