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Education Lab Blog

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

Category: Question of the Week
March 26, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Students: How have guidance counselors helped you?

As more and more young people set their sights on higher education, high-school guidance counselors continue to serve an important role. For many students, they are the only people available to help walk them through college applications, standardized tests, financial-aid forms and personal essays.

In an upcoming story, Education Lab will examine the growing workload of high-school counselors and how certain programs are working to give students more one-on-one attention. In the meantime, we’re reaching out to current high-school students and recent graduates to get their take on the current role of the guidance counselor:

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0 Comments | More in Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: counselors, high school, higher ed

March 10, 2014 at 1:02 PM

How do you save money on textbooks?

Michael Osbun / Op Art

Michael Osbun / Op Art

The high cost of college textbooks is nothing new, but technology could be making it easier for students to pursue cheaper alternatives.

On Sunday, reporter Katherine Long wrote about how college students in Seattle and Tacoma are pushing their professors to seek out free or low-cost online versions of textbooks.

Several readers offered their own advice on how to avoid paying full price for textbooks. From online commenter “drthompson”:

“To save students money, I required the previous edition of the text that can often be found on eBay or Amazon for less than $20 rather than the $140 new version. So many basic topics don’t really change, so there’s no reason to line the pockets of the publishers simply because they decide to ‘update’ textbooks every two years!”

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0 Comments | More in Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: e-textbooks, higher ed, textbooks

February 28, 2014 at 1:36 PM

Taken AP courses? Share your experience with Education Lab

Photo by Charles Dharapak / The Associated Press.

Photo by Charles Dharapak / The Associated Press.

Have you ever taken an Advanced Placement class, or a similar high school course for college credit? Education Lab wants to hear from you.

Our next story examines a new way of teaching AP courses that is being developed in partnership with the University of Washington. The new approach uses project-based learning as an alternative to a more traditional version of AP instruction focused on memorization and test preparation.

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0 Comments | More in Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: Advanced Placement, AP, high school

February 14, 2014 at 10:22 AM

What you wish you’d known about college ahead of time

We received several thoughtful responses to our most recent reader question, which asked: “What do you wish you had known about college ahead of time?”

The prompt was tied to our Sunday story about how mentoring programs at Western Washington University and the University of Washington are encouraging students to pursue post-secondary education by exposing them to the idea of college at a young age. Western’s program, called Compass 2 Campus, invites younger students to ask college kids whatever they’d like about campus life; the common questions can be both easy (“Do you live with your teachers?”) and more complicated (“What if you do not have money to go to college?”) to answer.

Here are a few examples of what our readers said they wish they had known about college when they were younger. Some responses have been edited for length and grammar.

I wish I’d been taught how to study. The primary way to get a study skills class in college is when you need remedial help. But how do you remediate what’s never been taught? I learned the hard way, and I eventually got it, but if there had been a class called How to Read in College, I’d have signed up right away.

—Drego Little, Seattle

I wish I had known to do more research about my major and what it would actually do for me job-wise. I don’t use my degree for my job now, and I keep hearing about many people who take out huge school loans and graduate with few job skills. I worked my way through school, which was not fun, but at least I got out of college debt free. With recent tuition hikes, getting out debt free is much harder, and students need to make sure the loans will be worth it.

—Michelle Jones, Everett

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0 Comments | More in Opinion, Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: college, Compass 2 Campus, higher ed

February 6, 2014 at 2:50 PM

What do you wish you would have known about college ahead of time?

WWU campus (Photo by Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times 2011)

WWU campus (Photo by Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times 2011)

For many young people, deciding to go to college isn’t really a decision at all. Whether it’s their parents, teachers or other role models, someone at some point makes it clear that higher education is part of their future.

The idea of college degree isn’t nearly as certain for other kids. In rural areas outside of Bellingham, for example, the percentage of high school graduates who go to college often lags the state and national average.

Our next full-length Education Lab story focuses on a mentoring program at Western Washington University called Compass 2 Campus. The idea behind Compass 2 Campus is simple: Convince kids that college is for them by exposing them to the idea of higher education — starting in fifth grade. Look for the story in print on online this Sunday, Feb. 9.

In the meantime, we’re interested to hear about readers’ own experiences surrounding higher education. Who first exposed you to the idea of college? Did you always see yourself on campus, or was it a struggle to get there? Even if you did not attend, what do you wish you would have known about college when you were younger?

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0 Comments | More in Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: Compass 2 Campus, higher ed, Western Washington University

January 30, 2014 at 4:18 PM

State Senate introduces REAL Hope Act — what’s your reaction?

Speaking Thursday at a news conference in Olympia, Sen. Barbara Bailey (R-Oak Harbor) WA Sen. Barbara Bailey says the GOP's REAL Hope Act will "make college a reality" for more students. (Photo by Brian M. Rosenthal / The Seattle Times)

Speaking Thursday at a news conference in Olympia, Sen. Barbara Bailey (R-Oak Harbor) WA Sen. Barbara Bailey says the GOP’s REAL Hope Act will “make college a reality” for more students. (Photo by Brian M. Rosenthal / The Seattle Times)

State Senate leaders made a surprising shift Thursday afternoon by announcing they had reached agreement on Washington’s version of the “Dream Act.”

Called the “REAL (Real Educational Access, Changing Lives) Hope Act,” Senate Bill 6523 is nearly identical to House Bill 1817, which the Democrat-controlled House voted to approve on the first day of the 2014 session.

The measure would require applicants to have lived in Washington state for at least three years before receiving their high school diploma and to fall under the federal requirements for deferred action.

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0 Comments | More in Poll, Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: Dream Act, financial aid, higher ed

January 16, 2014 at 5:13 PM

Your voices: Readers on why they would — or wouldn’t — hire a high school droput

Our latest Question of the Week stemmed from Claudia Rowe’s Monday story about a Kent-based dropout re-engagement program called iGrad. We asked: “Would you hire a high school dropout?” and gave readers three options “yes,” “no” or “only if he or she had earned a GED or other equivalency.” We also required respondents to provide a reason for their answers.

Here is a sampling of the responses (some have been edited for length):

Everyone has different abilities and motivations. A high school diploma does not indicate either of these attributes. If an individual shows they can do the required tasks or can be trained to do so, then a diploma is moot.

—Dana Briggs, Kirkland

School is EASY. If they cannot finish school, they won’t make it in the real world.

—Warren Trout, Seattle

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0 Comments | More in Opinion, Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: dropouts, igrad, your voices

January 9, 2014 at 4:49 PM

Question of the Week: Would you hire a high school dropout?

Illustration by Paul Tong / Op Art

Illustration by Paul Tong / Op Art

Last week’s blog post about the societal costs of high school dropouts drew a strong response from readers. According to a 2011 study from Columbia University, the average dropout imposes a lifetime cost of about $235,680 in welfare payments, food stamp, criminal justice and medical care.

With more than 30,000 teens and young adults disconnected from school and lacking diplomas in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties, the economic costs add up fast.

But the passage of ground-breaking legislation in 2010 made connecting dropouts with a diploma or other certification a renewed priority in Washington state. A popular Kent-based high school completion program called iGrad is the subject of Monday’s front-page story.

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0 Comments | More in Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: dropouts, igrad, question of the week

December 30, 2013 at 11:00 AM

Your voices: Readers share how schools could improve in 2014

Before Christmas, we asked Education Lab readers to think ahead to what they’d like to see change at their school in the new year. Specifically, we asked, “If you could offer the principal of your (or your kids’) school a one-sentence suggestion to improve student performance in the next year, what would it be?” Here…

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December 26, 2013 at 4:15 PM

Your voices: Readers share local examples of parents and schools working together

Earlier this month, we asked readers to share their examples of parents and teachers working together in the Puget Sound region. The request was tied to our Dec. 8 story about a renowned parent mentor program in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. We tried something a little different with this Question of the Week, using the  More

0 Comments | More in Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: Logan Square, parent involvement

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