Thursday, April 30, 2015

Iowa's three-year degrees

These degrees aren't accelerated, like you might think. Instead, students are required to carry a heavier load and work harder and more efficiently.  Year round.  It's hard to understand why most programs couldn't be completed in three years under those conditions. From The Gazette.

UI names majors open to three-year degrees
UI President Mason in the fall announced plans to begin offering three-year bachelor’s degrees in fall 2015, and on Thursday she specified the majors available under the “Iowa Degree in Three” program. 
Students majoring in communication studies, English, history, international studies, marketing, and theatre arts will have the option of pursuing a degree in the shortened time frame. After enrolling in the program and beginning classes, interested students will meet with advisers, establish “checkpoints” through their colleges and departments, and outline other requirements to keep them on track. 
The three-year options require the same number credits as four-year degrees, but they’ll require students be more aggressive by taking a heavier course load and proceeding at a faster pace. For starters, students can use the university’s new summer grant program, which offsets the cost of resident tuition for summer study. And colleges and departments can approve alternate courses or waivers when necessary to expedite the student’s progress. 
Mason said the first majors chosen for the three-year degree program are among the institution’s most popular.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

College pays

College is still a good investment, according to The Atlantic.

Widespread unemployment among recent college graduates during, and following, the recession combined with climbing student-loan debt, has left many wondering whether or not a college education is a good or necessary investment after all. 
In economic terms, the answer is still yes.

Though the cost of college is increasing, a variety of empirical evidence suggests that the earnings associated with a bachelor's degree still trump the debt that students incur in most cases. According to data from the New York Fed, college graduates earn 80 percent more than their peers who didn’t attend, or didn’t finish, undergrad—and they’re also less likely to wind up unemployed than those who didn't go to college.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Good riddence

One reason higher education is expensive is because of for-profits like Corinthian. Their students suffer tremendous debt for dubious degrees. From MainST.

Corinthian Colleges Shuts Down its Remaining Campuses as its Final Act
Corinthian Colleges, the embattled California-based for profit college, will shutter the last of its remaining campuses today. 
Corinthian, which completed a deal in February to sell 56 of its campuses to ECMC Group, a Minnesota-based student loan debt collector, is closing its 13 remaining Everest and WyoTech campuses in California along with 12 Heald College locations in California, Hawaii and Oregon. Everest College Phoenix, Everest Online Tempe in Arizona and the Everest Institute in New York will also shut down. 
Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) noted that until he learned of the shutdown on Sunday, Corinthian's remaining schools continued to receive aid from the federal government through the Title IV federal education program. Durbin remains concerned about Corinthian students with millions of dollar in loans, which he and other student advocates say should be written off. 
“Finally, we see the end of this rotten company, but there are still thousands of students who may never see the end of the damage Corinthian has caused if the Department of Education doesn’t move quickly to provide some relief,” said Durbin. “I am calling on the Department of Education to reach out directly to students impacted by the Corinthian closings and provide them with information on how they can receive a discharge of their Federal student loans. These students shouldn’t be on the hook for the debt they were misled into taking on.”

Monday, April 27, 2015

Promises, promises....

My recently-retired continuing education colleague insists that the whole concept behind Tennessee Promise started with Bill Locke and Northeast State Community College's "Educate and Grow" program.  Which in turn led to similar programs in Sevierville and Knoxville. He wants credit where credit is due, and he's probably right. From the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The Players Who Influenced Obama’s Free-College Plan
The Tennessee Promise
Tennessee was the first and most active member of Complete College America’s Alliance of States, and it readily embraced many of the solutions the group was promoting, including structured schedules and remediation overhauls. Complete College America had a hand in drafting the legislation tying state funds to graduation rates and other performance measures. "We’ve learned from each other," Mr. Jones said of its partnership with Tennessee.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

They'll have to pry my smartphone

From my cold, dead hand.  Addicted? I'm afraid so, but at least I don't sleep with mine.  It has to recharge, after all.  From Time.

3 Charts That Show Why We’re Addicted to Our Phones
Pew’s survey also found the 36% of U.S. adults didn’t own a smartphone, suggesting how millions of Americans, believe it or not, are getting by just fine without their Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy. In fact, most smartphone owners can complete tasks just fine when their phones aren’t by their sides... 
But in the end, Americans probably won’t ditch their smartphones if they don’t have to. Though about half of respondents said their phones made them feel distracted, the overwhelming majority also said their phones made them feel happy and productive.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Unhealthy Appalachia

Here in Northeast Tennessee, Washington County's Mortality rate is 421.7.  From Time.

The new edition of County Health Rankings from the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, places the county–which until very recently was called Shannon County–at the bottom of the class in the number of people who died before age 75, a common measure of public health. 
Oglala Lakota County sits inside the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, whose residents suffer from a number of well-documented health problems. While South Dakota has a number of counties with high rates of premature deaths, the unhealthiest region in the United States is arguably the heart of Appalachia, from eastern Kentucky into southwest Virginia and southern West Virginia. Many of the counties have rates of smoking and obesity north of 30 percent of the population....
Across the country, the median value for this figure is 376 people per 100,000, meaning 0.38% of population will die before age 75 in a given year. (That’s all people, not just those who pass away.) The value for Oglala Lakota County is 983.4, while the lowest in the nation, in Pitkin, Colo., is 118.5.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Timing is everything

Even in job interviews.  I always heard that you wanted to be either the first of the last person interviewed.  Turns out, even the time of the day is important. From

When is the best time to schedule a job interview?
So, what does this mean for job interviews? If possible, get your interviews scheduled first thing in the morning when people are fresher and better able to make decisions to evaluate your candidacy. If you’re interviewing later in the afternoon, know what you’re up against. At that point in the day, people are likely struggling with decision fatigue. That means you have to really bring your A-game to make sure you’re given a fair shot.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Great keynote at ACHE South!

A non-credit opportunity

And no, you can't really major in Britney Spears. Popular culture, now that's another matter or another major. But as an old English major, I can't throw stones. I enjoy popular culture studies and would certainly enjoy this course. From The Daily Beast.

Majoring in Britney Spears in Brooklyn: A Greenpoint Class Offers ‘Britney Spears 101’
They’re all here for a 90-minute presentation titled, “Britney Spears: Goddess, Feminist Icon, Pop Priestess,” a quirky but semi-serious workshop that discusses the singer’s unique role in feminism, sexuality, and pop culture. Call it nostalgic, call it crazy, but it keeps selling out. 
“I think the workshop has tapped into something. I don’t know if I would have put my finger on it beforehand, but I think there’s some kind of movement going on,” said Rachel Goldberg, co-creator of the Spears workshop, which she runs out of her apartment with business partner Suri Ratnatunga.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Iowa a haven for hipsters?

Evidently, as three of the top nineteen cities can be found in the Hawkeye State.  Ames, Iowa City, and West Des Moines. None in Tennessee, unsurprisingly. Although I've spotted a few in Knoxville. From CBS Moneywatch.

The definition of hipster is admittedly squishy -- this is not a group easily forced into stereotypes --but they are generally thought to share some characteristics. They have an "effortless nonchalance," according to FindTheHome. Their preferences cross societal lines, blending cheap beer and organic food, wordly cynicism and an aspirational idealism, recycled furniture and ultra-cool clothes. 
Those are tough characteristics to measure, so FindTheHome took an easier route and looked at four attributes that it thinks hipster cities have in common:
Young people. Hipsters can be any age, of course, but they're more likely to be between 20-34.
Education. A high percentage have a bachelor's degree.
Cafes. Where else would you debate the best method for brewing pour-over coffee?
Yoga studios. Because apparently hipsters and yoga are BFFs.
So when you look at the country through those hipster-colored lenses, what do you see?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

And I need to get out more at lunch

Time has some tips on things to avoid in order to improve your productivity.

10 Habits You Should Abandon Now to Improve Productivity
7. Eating lunch at your desk 
You may think that you’re being more productive by skipping your lunch hour, but what happens if you spill food or a drink on a key report — or your keyboard? You could ruin your productivity for the afternoon with a simple slip-up. In addition, you’re more likely to make poor food choices and overeat if you’re eating at your desk. Do your productivity a favor and get lunch away from your desk.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Nearly 2,000 ETSU students take most or all courses online

Online student enrollments at East Tennessee State University have reached a milestone, according to enrollment data provided by ETSU’s Office of eLearning. This semester, 1,046 students are taking 100 percent of their coursework online, with 900 additional students taking at least 50 percent of their coursework online.

ETSU Online offers 26 degree and certificate programs at the graduate and undergraduate levels in a completely online format. There are also several programs with most, but not all, coursework offered online. During the spring 2015 semester, which includes winter session, 639 individual online courses were offered.

As course offerings have grown, enrollment in online courses at ETSU has grown, as well – 93 percent since 2008.

“We’ve worked hard to increase the number of available online courses and programs,” says Karen King, vice provost for eLearning, “and we’ve been pleased with resulting growth in online enrollments.”

The flexibility, convenience and quality of ETSU’s online courses are likely reasons for the growth in ETSU’s online enrollments, King says. “Online courses and programs provide access to education, especially for non-traditional and graduate students, many of whom work full time and have a family or other personal responsibilities,” she said.  “Also, students appreciate that the same faculty teaching in ETSU’s classrooms are also the faculty leading courses online.”

Improved access through advances in technology have also affected enrollment, according to King. One such resource is WebEx, which the university adopted last year. WebEx is an online software platform that allows anyone who has an Internet connection, including mobile users, to join online meetings equipped with audio, video, screen sharing and recording.

“WebEx has allowed us to increase overall capacity for offering courses in a live-stream format,” says Director of Instructional Television Rob Nelson, “and the convenience of being able to be ‘in’ class in real-time from wherever they may be at class time has made enrollment in live-streaming course sections a popular choice among students.”

Multiple online course formats are available to students: asynchronous, which has no time-specific or on-campus meetings with all coursework being completed in an online learning environment (D2L); synchronous, which does have time-specific meetings in a virtual classroom environment (WebEx); and ITV, or instructional television, which is broadcast via the Internet to off-campus classrooms at ETSU satellite locations.

The ETSU Office of eLearning provides academic support services to ETSU students, faculty, and staff and provides support for the synchronous and asynchronous delivery of online course content.

For more information, visit ETSU Online at or call toll-free 855-590-ETSU (3878).

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Save the date

Tennessee Alliance for Continuing Higher Education
47th Annual Conference
November 11-13, 2015
The Park Vista--A Doubletree Hotel by Hilton
Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Growing a university

Without actually improving it.  All about the branding and lessons learned from vodka.  From The New York Times.

How to Raise a University’s Profile: Pricing and Packaging

Mr. Trachtenberg, however, understood something crucial about the modern university. It had come to inhabit a market for luxury goods. People don’t buy Gucci bags merely for their beauty and functionality. They buy them because other people will know they can afford the price of purchase. The great virtue of a luxury good, from the manufacturer’s standpoint, isn’t just that people will pay extra money for the feeling associated with a name brand. It’s that the high price is, in and of itself, a crucial part of what people are buying.

Mr. Trachtenberg convinced people that George Washington was worth a lot more money by charging a lot more money. Unlike most college presidents, he was surprisingly candid about his strategy. College is like vodka, he liked to explain. Vodka is by definition a flavorless beverage. It all tastes the same. But people will spend $30 for a bottle of Absolut because of the brand. A Timex watch costs $20, a Rolex $10,000. They both tell the same time.

The Absolut Rolex plan worked. The number of applicants surged from some 6,000 to 20,000, the average SAT score of students rose by nearly 200 points, and the endowment jumped from $200 million to almost $1 billion.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Simplify the FAFSA

It is a chore to complete the FAFSA.  The Atlantic argues that it could be easier to complete which in turn might spur college enrollment.

Why Are So Many College Students Turning Down Free Money?
The FAFSA is the first step toward receiving Pell grants. As its name implies, the application is free—and, for the low-income students who are deemed eligible, the money it generates is free, too. Unlike loans, students don't have to pay off the aid. With the maximum Pell Grant amount valued at $5,775 per student for the 2015-16 year, the FAFSA alone doesn't always make a huge dent in tuition for students, especially those attending expensive private colleges. But for many it could cover the majority of the tuition at many public two- and even four-year colleges. 
The amount of paperwork required complete the application could explain why so few people complete it. Filling out the lengthy form is a laborious process—and the Department of Education doesn’t try to hide that. In fact, the FAFSA "FAQ" page prominently displays the time requirements for each portion:
  • 55 minutes to complete and submit an initial application
  • 45 minutes to complete and submit a renewal application
  • 10 minutes to make FAFSA corrections
But those could be extremely conservative estimates, according to one 2007 study, which calculated the form takes as many as 10 hours to fill out—roughly five times the amount indicated by the feds. The study’s analysis factored in the time it would take to source the relevant financial documents, verify the information, fill out the forms, and revise for errors. In many cases, completing the FAFSA is more tedious than filing taxes.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Business Insider ranks the economies of all fifty states.  Tennessee ranks in the lower middle.

RANKED: The 50 US state economies from worst to best
32: Tennessee 
Ten Fortune 500 companies have their headquarters in Tennessee. These include FedEx, the Hospital Corporation of America, International Paper, and Dollar General. Given the state's central geographic location and the presence of FedEx, many more Tennesseans work in the courier, truck-transportation, and water-transportation industries than Americans do overall. 
Tennessee's housing market was recovering at a rate faster than the average, with housing prices rising 5.12% between Q3 2013 and Q3 2014. Job growth was also better than average, with a 2.39% gain in nonfarm payroll jobs between December 2013 and December 2014. That job growth, however, has not helped Tennessee's above-average unemployment rate of 6.6%.

Read more:

Friday, April 3, 2015

Thursday, April 2, 2015

ETSU recognizes its adjunct faculty members

The Office of Human Resources requests your assistance in continuing to recognize our outstanding ETSU employees (faculty and staff).  We regularly feature on our Human Resources’ web site an employee or group of employees who have displayed outstanding service to the university and/or our surrounding community. These are our employees who probably would not receive local media attention but deserve acclaim for the good work they perform.

The Office of Human Resources is proud to present our latest featured employees, ETSU’s Adjunct Faculty Members.