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Education Lab is a project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

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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

December 29, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Free online tool shows top jobs for community college grads

What jobs will be in high demand four years down the road, when today’s college freshmen enter the workforce?

A new report released by the advocacy group Young Invincibles outlines broad employment trends, but if you’re looking for a more specific guidance — what to study now — there are also newly-available online tools that can help.

The Future of Millennial Jobs suggests that future technological shifts are likely to mean fundamental changes in the way we work. But “futurists are split on whether technological advances will produce a net increase or decrease in employment, and rapid changes in technology mean that the jobs of the future may be vastly different than what we see today,” the report says.

Millennials (born after 1980) — and others — looking for specific guidance might want to try Career Coach, a free online career-search tool recently rolled out by Tacoma Community College. The tool is used by a number of other institutions, as well, including Highline College in Des Moines and the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County. It’s built by EMSI, a Moscow, Idaho, company owned by CareerBuilder.

The website allows students to enter the degree they’re pursuing — or thinking about — and shows related careers in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area, including salaries and prospects for future employment.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: higher education

December 19, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Lawmakers: College Bound scholarship good, could get better

Donna Grethen / Op Art

Donna Grethen / Op Art

By some measures, the state’s College Bound program — which promises financial help to many low-income students — has been a runaway success.

Since 2007, for example, about 186,000 students have signed up, and the number grows each year. In the past few years, nearly every student who meets the eligibility requirements has signed up. To qualify, students must maintain a C average in high school, apply for federal financial aid and stay out of legal trouble.

But earlier this year, some legislators wondered if the seven-year-old effort should be tweaked to make it more effective.

In the spring, the Legislature created a work group to study College Bound. The group’s report, released this week, suggests some small changes, and also gave College Bound a ringing endorsement. The program will cost $48 million in 2013-15, and an estimated $74 million in 2015-17 if it is fully funded.

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December 17, 2014 at 6:02 PM

UW, WWU rank as best college values by national magazine

The University of Washington and Western Washington University have once again made it on the list of 100 top public schools that offer the most value for the money. The ranking of colleges and universities is done annually by Kiplinger’s Magazine.

The UW ranks 11th in value for in-state students. WWU ranks 91st. They’re the only two Washington public schools that made the list, ranking in the top 100 best values for both in-state and out-of-state students.

On a separate Kiplinger’s ranking that compared private universities, two Spokane schools make the top 100: Gonzaga University, 36th, and Whitworth University, 45th. And among liberal arts colleges, Whitman College in Walla Walla ranks 29th.

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

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