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

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August 28, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Washington loses more college students than it gains

Illustration by Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

Illustration by Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

When he was president of  the State University of New York Institute of Technology (SUNYIT), Bjong “Wolf” Yeigh was well aware of New York’s brain-drain problem: The state’s bountiful numbers of college students didn’t stick around after graduation.

Now that he’s chancellor of the University of Washington Bothell, Yeigh finds he’s in a state with education issues that are, in some respects, the opposite.

New York, which is home to hundreds of small liberal arts colleges, attracts more college students than it loses to other states. In fall 2012, for example, federal data shows that about 33,000 of New York’s first-time college students (primarily freshmen)  left the state to go to college elsewhere. But about 39,000 students from other states moved to New York to go to college, more than making up for the loss.

Yeigh was analyzing the data this year and was surprised to learn that Washington experiences the opposite effect. In fact, it’s one of only 11 states with a net loss of first-time college students.

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Comments | Topics: College-going, higher ed, UW-Bothell

August 25, 2014 at 10:59 AM

Best bang for your college buck? UW ranks 6th

A wide range of institutions and publications will be rolling out national — in some cases, international — college and university rankings in the coming weeks. In this space, we’ll take note of some of the most interesting ones.

The national magazine Washington Monthly tries to downplay prestige and play up value in its “Best Bang for the Buck” list, with rankings based on the economic value students receive per dollar. Among national universities, that list puts the University of Washington-Seattle at number 6. Washington State University ranks 45th. 

Among master’s-degree-granting universities, UW-Bothell ranks 5th, and The Evergreen State College ranks 17th. Central Washington University comes in at 29th, and Western Washington University at 32nd.

Among all schools in the country, regardless of the highest degree awarded, UW-Bothell ranks 5th, and UW-Seattle ranks 15th.

The monthly magazine also has a second, broader ranking that looks at more than money.  For that list, it “asks not what colleges can do for you, but what colleges are doing for the country. Are they educating low-income students, or just catering to the affluent? Are they improving the quality of their teaching, or ducking accountability for it?”

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

August 25, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Is your college financially stable?

Michael Osbun / Op Art

Michael Osbun / Op Art

Earlier this year, the six Washington campuses of Everest College, a for-profit school,  were put up for sale after the parent company ran into financial and legal hot water.

That raises interesting questions for students: How do you know if your college is financially sound? And should you be worried if it isn’t?

The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit education news site out of New York, recently suggested five steps you can take to make sure the college you’re attending is financially solid. (The issue applies to nonprofit and for-profit schools, since public colleges and universities aren’t going to run into the kinds of financial problems that would force a closure unless the state itself runs out of money.)

It’s worth paying attention to the financial soundness of your school because, as the Hechinger Report notes, students attending a college that abruptly closes must find another place to continue their education, and they may find it difficult to get credit for the classes they took at the closing school. It can also be challenging to transfer student loan paperwork. And a shuttered college will likely be diminished in the eyes of employers.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Corinthian Colleges, for-profit colleges, higher ed

August 18, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Local college-completion effort draws White House’s attention

What does Washington state have to teach White House policy leaders about higher education?

Quite a bit, it turns out.

Three Washington community college presidents — Amy Morrison Goings of Lake Washington Institute of Technology in Kirkland, Jean Hernandez of Edmonds Community College and Chris Bailey of Lower Columbia College in Longview — went to Washington, D.C., last week to be part of a White House summit on community colleges.

Here is what Morrison Goings had to say about what happened at the meeting (some comments have been edited for space and clarity):

Q: This was your second visit to the White House this year. What were the meetings about?

A: The first meeting, in January, was the College Opportunity Summit, and at that meeting the president and first lady — as well as Secretary of Education Arne Duncan — spoke about how to increase the numbers of low-income students moving into higher education. The focus was best practices and ideas about how to move more low-income students into private, selective institutions. We were one of a few community colleges represented out of about 100 institutions.

The White House staff heard loud and clear the we are not going to solve this nation’s challenges of moving more low-income youth into higher education without the community colleges being front and center. We educate 40 percent of our nation’s low-income youth at 1,200 two-year colleges, so we’ve got to be part of the solution.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Community colleges, remediation

August 6, 2014 at 5:00 AM

College finance trends: Students, families borrowing less

Has the national anxiety about student loan debt caused parents and students alike to pay more college costs out-of-pocket, and choose community college over four-year institutions?  Those were some of the possible takeaways from  “How America Pays for College,” an annual report by financial services company Sallie Mae. In 2014, students and families borrowed funds to…

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Comments | Topics: higher education, Sallie Mae, student loans

August 4, 2014 at 5:00 AM

New UW provost may expand online classes for working adults

Rovy Branon. Photo courtesy University of Washington

Rovy Branon. Photo courtesy University of Washington

An educator who helped develop the University of Wisconsin’s program that allows working adults to earn college degrees online will lead a similar department at the University of Washington.

Rovy Branon has been chosen to become vice provost for UW Educational Outreach, the arm of the university that offers continuing education for professionals, as well as degree programs that allow students with some college credits to finish their degrees online at the UW.

Branon comes from the University of Wisconsin-Extension, where he led the development of that school’s Flexible Option program, a competency-based online degree program that gives students credit for skills they have learned in previous jobs. He also helped develop eCampus, a gateway to online degree programs throughout the University of Wisconsin system.

Is that a signal that the UW will continue to expand its online offerings for working adults who want to finish their bachelor’s degrees? Perhaps.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: online degree, University of Washington

July 28, 2014 at 9:03 AM

More for your money: UW-Bothell ranked best in the state

The UW Bothell campus. Photo by Jim Bates / The Seattle Times 2008.

The UW Bothell campus. Photo by Jim Bates / The Seattle Times 2008.

A new national ranking of college quality scrambles the usual rating of Washington state’s colleges and universities, making the University of Washington-Bothell the top-rated school in the state.

The ranking, by Money magazine, aims to tell students and parents which schools give the best value for the money, and looked at metrics such as the quality of the education, affordability and outcomes, which were based in part on how much graduates were making five years after they left school.

The UW-Bothell ranked above the main campus because it “dramatically outperforms its peers on graduation rates and alumni financial success indicators,” the magazine writes. Although UW-Bothell isn’t particularly selective, more than two-thirds of freshmen go on to graduate, and earn salaries averaging about $52,000 within five years of graduating.

In the survey, UW-Bothell came in 37th in the nation overall, earning an A- for value. The main UW campus in Seattle ranked 47th in the nation, getting a B+ for quality. The Seattle campus appeared to rank slightly lower than the UW-Bothell because the average annual salary within five years was slightly lower ($49,300) and the school is more selective.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: higher ed, rankings, UW

July 28, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Free textbooks: New website helps profs find best e-books and videos

The OPEN Washington website

The OPEN Washington website

Building on several years of work with free textbook development, the state’s community college board has created a website that highlights the best available free- and low-cost textbooks and other educational resources from around the country.

The website is called OPEN Washington, and its aim is to help professors and college instructors find free or low-cost online textbooks, videos, curricula and other resources from a wide variety of sources.

It was created by the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC).

Along with everything else in higher education, textbooks have zoomed in price in recent years; some studies suggest that the average college student spends as much as $800 to $1,000 per academic year buying textbooks. And students are often stuck with books that they can’t sell back to the bookstore because versions change from year to year.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: e-textbooks, higher ed, textbooks

July 21, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Liberal-arts consortium knits together 5 small colleges

This summer, three small Northwest liberal arts colleges are teaching a course together as part of a five-college collaboration that could eventually help the schools deliver education more efficiently and provide stronger class offerings to their students.

It’s a move that reflects a growing national trend  among colleges to pool talent and resources.

The schools — including the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma and  Whitman College in Walla Walla — established the consortium three years ago, and this summer will offer their first class, in local food systems.

The project is called the Northwest Five Consortium, and it also includes Lewis & Clark College and Reed College, both in Portland, and Willamette University in Salem, Ore.

The Whitman College campus in Walla Walla. Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times 2009.

The Whitman College campus in Walla Walla. Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times 2009.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: higher ed, liberal arts

July 7, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Mellon grant will boost humanities studies at UPS

Students read outside on a warm spring day at the University of Puget Sound. Photo by Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times 2013.

Students read outside on a warm spring day at the University of Puget Sound. Photo by Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times 2013.

Who says the humanities are dead? Last week, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation announced a $600,000 grant to the University of Puget Sound for use in the school’s new humanities and honors-program initiatives.

UPS officials say they’ll use the grant to develop new classes and to explore new ways of learning.

With the grant, UPS will expand and restructure interdisciplinary classes in the humanities, arts, culture and technology. Classes will be taught across disciplines, and experiential learning will be expanded to involve hands-on projects or community activities.

The grant money will also allow UPS to involve more students in honors and humanities studies. The school will develop classes in film, video and new media, and the study of queer cultures will be included as integral to the study of humanities.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: higher ed, humanities, University of Puget Sound

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