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Education Lab Blog

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

Topic: college

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October 20, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Free Seattle college fair features 325 schools

Mark your calendars: The Seattle National College Fair, a free event that brings 325 colleges and universities to Seattle for a weekend, will be held Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 this year at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center.

The event gives students and their families the chance to gather up reams of brochures and leaflets about the colleges, ask questions of admissions representatives and learn about financial aid offerings. Participants include two- and four-year colleges and universities, both public and private, including many from outside the United States.

The event is always highly recommended for high-school juniors, as well as seniors, because it can help younger students get a handle on what the admission process is all about.

The fair runs from 9 a.m. to noon on Oct. 31, and from noon to 4 p.m. on Nov. 1.

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

October 6, 2014 at 5:00 AM

College kids now: socially liberal gamers stressing about bucks

William L. Brown / Op Art

William L. Brown / Op Art

Millennials get a lot of grief  “self-involved” and “entitled” are among the adjectives frequently used  so it’s interesting to see how they view the rest of the world.

Since 1966, pollsters at UCLA have been recording the attitudes of incoming college freshmen across the country on a variety of topics, and last year’s crop revealed themselves to be more fiscally focused and socially liberal than their predecessors.

Nearly half of the 166,000 students surveyed said financial aid offers were “very important” in deciding where to enroll, the highest rate ever reported in The American Freshman.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: college, higher ed, millennials

September 12, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Brigham Young tops list of WA’s out-of-state college choices

Recently, we wrote about the large number of Washington state students who go out of state for a college education. Of all the western states, Washington loses the most college-bound students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, a federally-run data clearinghouse.

Where do they all go? Believe it or not, the two most popular out-of-state schools for the 2012-13 school year were Brigham Young University-Idaho and Brigham Young University in Utah. Those two schools account for nearly 9 percent of the 7,409 Washington students who graduated in spring 2012 and went immediately to out-of-state colleges in the fall.

State universities in Idaho, Oregon, Montana and Arizona were also big draws. Popular California schools included the public California Polytechnic State University (or Cal-Poly, as it’s known), and three privates: Santa Clara University, the University of Southern California and Chapman University.

But what’s also striking is that the top 25 schools only account for 40 percent of the students who leave the state. That suggests to us that Washington students choose many, many different schools across the nation when they decide to leave home.

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Comments | Topics: college, out-of-state

September 8, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Excellent Sheep? Author says higher education system is broken

A new book questioning whether an education at one of the country’s elite colleges prepares students to find true meaning in their lives is getting a lot of buzz in education circles this fall.

“Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life,” by William Deresiewicz, argues that the nation’s elite colleges don’t promote intellectual curiosity, and leave students without a sense of purpose, unwilling to take a chance on pursuing their passions and largely all pursuing the same high-paying but soul-sucking jobs  in finance, or as a consultant.

A Hungarian shepherd drives a herd of sheep near Hortobagy, a village 183 kilometers east of Budapest. Photo by Zsolt Czegledi/European Press Association.

A shepherd drives a herd of sheep near Hortobagy, Hungary. Photo by Zsolt Czegledi/European Press Association.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: college, excellent sheep, higher ed

March 24, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Understanding the quirks in state’s college completion rate

Washington’s public four-year colleges have long bragged that their completion rates — that is, the percentage of students who finish their degrees and graduate — are among the best in the nation. And according to a federal postsecondary analysis of data, they are.

But a new study by the respected National Student Clearinghouse, which verifies college degrees to employers and also collects tremendous amounts of data on college completion, appears to show that Washington’s six-year graduation rate for four-year public colleges is not, in fact, the nation’s best — that it’s worse than the national average.

How can that be?

It’s a quirk in the way colleges are classified. In 2007, a few of Washington’s community colleges started offering applied baccalaureate degrees, or four-year degrees. Currently, 11 of the state’s 34 community and technical colleges do so, and more of these degrees are likely to be approved in the future. Some of these colleges have also dropped the word “community” from their names.

So, are they still two-year colleges, or not?

According to the way colleges are classified, they’re now four-year colleges — even though only a  fraction of the students they graduate get baccalaureate degrees.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: college, graduation rates, higher ed

February 25, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Washington study: College grads make 20 percent more than high-school grads

It’s widely accepted that earning a bachelor’s degree will boost a person’s earnings potential over a lifetime. But how quickly does it pay off?

A new Washington study shows that in the first two years after graduation, students who earned a bachelor’s degree made about 20 percent more than those with only a high-school diploma.

Perhaps not surprisingly, women fared worse than men in the study. Two years after graduation, a woman with a bachelor’s degree only made about as much as a man with a high-school diploma.

The report comes from the state Education Research and Data Center, which keeps data on academic performance from pre-kindergarten through graduate school.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: bachelor's degree, college, high school diploma

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

October 31, 2013 at 7:30 AM

Arne Duncan: College rating system to spotlight good deals for the money

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Going to college has never been more important — or more expensive — says U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The federal Department of Education is working on a college rating system, expected to go live next fall, that will promote college affordability and value.

In a telephone press conference with reporters Wednesday, Duncan discussed elements that will likely be part of the rating system.

He was deliberately short on specifics, emphasizing that the ratings system doesn’t exist yet, and won’t be drafted until after a series of four public forums and other meetings to determine what measures should be included. (Only one of the forums will take place on the West Coast, in California on Nov. 6. More details are available here.)

Duncan called the nation’s higher-education system “the best system in the world, but a very inefficient system (with) a tremendous lack of transparency.”

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Arne Duncan, college, higher ed

October 24, 2013 at 2:20 PM

How to ace a busy college fair

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Gary Winchester, M.Ed., a program coordinator at the University of Washington, speaks to a student at a transfer fair held at Bellevue College earlier this year. (Photo by Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times)

College fair season is here again.

Some 15,000 high-school students and parents will descend on the Washington State Convention & Trade Center Nov. 8-9 for the annual Seattle National College Fair. Part of the National Association for College Admission’s circuit of fall fairs, the free event is the biggest college fair in our area—and can also be the most daunting.

Planning to attend a college fair this year? Here are a few tips to help you make the most of the experience:*

  • Do your homework. Many events offer a list of participating schools ahead of time. (Attendees at the Seattle National College Fair are listed here.) Budget your time by mapping out your must-visit booths—and keep in mind that you might have to wait in line to talk to admission reps at the more popular schools.
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Comments | Topics: college, college applications, college fairs