Have you heard of The College Transparency Act of 2017?

Have you heard of The College Transparency Act of 2017?

Written By CEO & Co-Founder

Dr. John R. Hall Ed.D

Have you heard of The College Transparency Act of 2017? This could be the thing that changes everything relative to TRUE transparency for students, enabling them to make data-driven decisions, as it relates to schools/programs to enroll at. Equally, it has the potential of making our institutions stronger! We could not be more excited about this.

 Right now, if I am a prospective student, I can find out what a school’s 6 year graduation rate, loan default rate, and demographic breakdown. Is that information valuable to me? Perhaps but it doesn’t tell you much! Consider these scenarios:

·       If I am a student of color who is thinking about majoring in Business, I may want to know what a school’s graduation rate was specifically for students of color who were business majors?


·       If I am a first-generation learner who is going to have to take $ 60,000 of student loan debt over the next several years, I may want to know what other first-generation graduates completed a certain program and average earnings?


·       If I am a returning solider from tours in the Mideast looking at using my GI benefits to get a degree in Homeland Security, it might be valuable to know the percentage of students who are veterans were successful and how much money were they making?


·       If I am a student considering one of our many fantastic 2 year community colleges, I may be turned off by “low” and otherwise arguably inaccurate graduation rates I gather from the general data now available.  What if I could get the training I needed, not go into debt, and under a certain program have an opportunity to make a greater income on average then if I selected a 4 year program in some other field of study? I would love to know that! More data connections allow for us to show that this is probably more prevalent in certain programs at certain schools that generalized research now indicates.

We saw bipartisan momentum this week in Congress to overturn the Student Unit Record Ban that was a part of the 2008 Higher Education Opportunity Act. This current ban prevents the Federal Government from connecting the dots using data the Department of Education and other federal agencies that already is collected. This is similar to a ban the federal government had prior to 9/11 as it related to the FBI and CIA being able to share relevant information to connect the dots.

 Proponents of overturning this ban argue through the connection of certain data points, DOE would be able to provide much deeper student success/outcomes data that might be practically useful. If this is possible, proponents argue we could start gleaning very specific data on how our institutions are performing relative to outcomes on a program-by-program/situational basis. Not only could we be more transparent with prospective students but we could help schools focus in what is successful and what needs improvement.

 By way of example, the IRS obviously collects data on an individual’s income history. Separately, DOE has student loan and other student demographic data that shows how much financial aid an individual student took out, their major, what school they graduated from, etc. Other agencies like DOD and the VA collect other data. None of this data can be aggregated to determine clear and specific patterns of student success per the ban. At present, one can just determine institutional level results (e.g. % of students graduated, default rates, etc.). All the data exists. It simply cannot be used even if all personally identifiable information is removed!

 While the momentum seems potent, this legislation has hurdles and some powerful opposition from people that feel the overturn of this ban could compromise student privacy. This a valid concern but commercially-available and acceptable safeguards can be employed. Many schools are also opposed but others (including many community colleges) are supportive of overturning the ban.

 In our opinion, this is just the beginning of the movement towards full data transparency in higher education. These connections will help champions of student success like Greenwood Hall, provide even more specific and focused proactive support measures and interventions, designed to further enhance where institutions are at their strongest and help accomplish positive changes where opportunities for great improvement exist. These connections will also help us better recruit and prepare new students for their educational programs. Finally, they will allow for schools to powerfully differentiate themselves based on data, not incomplete data, marketing spends, and perceptions.

 Whether the College Transparency Act of 2017 is the game changer, this type of transparency will come. Imagine true data-driven resources that help enhance decision-making by constituents of higher education, most importantly our students! Imagine data that helps our schools shine even more!

 Stay tuned! It’s going to be an exciting next couple of months for student success as well as the empowerment of students and schools alike to make the World’s best higher education system even more powerful!

To see more information about the College Transparency Act visit:https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/1121 

The Renaissance of For-Profit Education


The Renaissance of For-Profit Education

By: John Hall, Ed.D.

Until recently, it appeared for-profit higher education was headed for a mass extinction. Over the past seven years, a significant portion of the proprietary sector has died on the vine. With the University of Phoenix’ parent company being acquired for $ 1.1 billion in February by two of the largest global private equity firms and last week’s announcement by Purdue University of their intent to acquire Kaplan University, there is mounting evidence that for-profit education is emerging from the dark ages and morphing into a new era. Whatever we think of the merits of for-profit education, it will continue to pay a profound role in post-secondary in the United States.


We may look back to the last several years from now and point to The Renaissance of For-Profit Education.


Just as the case with utilities, hospitals, and other sectors that are comprised of public, non-profit, and investor-owned organizations; the infrastructure, expertise, and capacity required to meet the demand for post-secondary education in the United States is just too great for government or non-profit entities to tackle alone.


Arguably, with 7% of all enrollment, for-profit schools do provide needed capacity especially to the markets they serve – access that at times cannot be fulfilled by other parts of the sector. In the new paradigm of for-profit education, the first thing to understand is that “for-profit education” is more than for-profit or proprietary colleges. I believe the emerging for-profit sector will meld certain interests, hopefully in ways that ultimately benefit all parties. Most importantly, my hope is they will benefit the true consumers of education – students.


The Purdue-Kaplan deal is a strong acknowledgement which I believe we will see much more of in the coming months and years. In many cases, non-profit and public institutions have missions and capabilities that can better support academic performance. Like any business that wants to make a profit and have sustainability, it is hard to believe that for-profit entities would not want to deliver a superior academic experience if they could.


Conversely, many non-profit and public institutions realize that running a customer serving enterprise is not their strong-suit. It is extremely difficult to recruit and provide superior non-academic support services to students that essentially expect and need it on-demand as well as virtually-available. I have yet to meet any administrator or faculty member at any public or non-profit school that does not want to maximize access and support for students. Prior to the technological and demographic changes of the past two decades, institutions really did not need to operate such an enterprise. Thus, they are not equipped to do so in many cases.


Purdue needs to expand aggressively in the online education arena. Kaplan has the theoretical assets to support such an expansion. The proposed transaction, at least initially, provides a path that is less expensive and more than likely less risky than Purdue starting from scratch. As a for-profit, Kaplan was seeing significant declines in enrollment in what had become a difficult regulatory environment, nagging questions about Kaplan’s ability to deliver quality learning outcomes, and the stigma of being a for-profit. Thus, Kaplan needed the academic credibility and capabilities that Purdue brings to the table.


Now, whether theory plays out into practice, will be a different story. Traditionally, mergers/acquisitions whether in private industry or in the public/non-profit sector do not always work out well. That does not mean, however, that the Purdue-Kaplan cannot work if executed properly and under reasonable expectations.


Even before it can be determined whether the Purdue-Kaplan transaction will have positive long-term results, we expect more of these combinations and partnerships of convenience. There are plenty of schools like Purdue and thousands without the brand and reach of Purdue that need a lot of help in transforming themselves or putting in place back-end capabilities that support market realities, despite having strong academic credentials. On the other hand, there are a handful of service providers and for-profit schools that have real expertise and infrastructure that can propel institutions forward as it relates to expanding enrollment, student service, and the delivery of successful outcomes.


For the benefit of our students, we are hopeful that we are entering a renaissance of higher education in general, where for-profit entities and public/non-profit institutions work hand-in-hand in the pursuit of maximizing the power of higher education in the United States.

Serving millennial students in a microwave society

Serving millennial students in a microwave society

Written By

Larry Karcher-Vice President Business Development

If you begin doing research on how to best communicate with millennials you will quickly find hundreds of articles spanning the past three years that drive a consistent message: give reasons to read emails or be ‘clickable’, be direct, add visuals (infographics or emoji’s are great), and accentuate key points (because they are not often reading the entire message).

Everyone is interested in all of the typical behaviors of the millennial generation because they are 80 million strong, with 55.2 million already in the workforce, and slated to represent 75% of the total American workforce by 2020. That’s a big group of buyers, shoppers, decision makers, and service providers are eager to adjust to the preferences of this expanding consumer population. However, many colleges and universities have not adapted effectively to their new predominant student body.
Below are summarized points from all of those articles I mentioned earlier followed by what that means for millennials as our students.

-Prefer quick, easily accessible, and direct information.
-Prefer information to be readily available 24/7.
-One stop shop
-First generation to consider college an expense.

Millennials have evolved with technology that provides massive information that is more readily available than ever before. That does not mean that they are disinterested in talking or do not need support! Remember the ‘Rotisserie Cooker’ “set it and forget it” commercials? Millennials are not the ‘Rotisserie Cooker’ – you cannot set them with technology, forget about them, and expect they will pop out as graduates with your university.

Millennials are defined to be anyone between the ages of 20 – 36. Individuals in the millennial generation are each at different stages of life, they are each facing significant transition, and most value support along the way. These are all people completing college, starting college, starting jobs, or starting families. These are all people working through some of the most stressful milestones life has to offer. Millennials are still people who depend on relationships for support, change, or decision making.

*Key takeaway – Tech enabled initial engagements are great, but lasting relationships are critical for retention and student success.

Tips to build a lasting relationship with your millennial student:

-Use multiple methods of outreach. This way your potential student can choose which they prefer
-Be direct in your initial contacts
-Be proactive! Let them know you will be following up, when, how, and what you will accomplish.
-take time to learn as much as you can in conversations
-Be an active listener. Use tools like tone, empathy, and enthusiasm to effectively support students.

In our microwave society let us not forget that at times, you may have to check on your “students”. They still have oven problems that take a little longer to process and figure out. We cannot offer immediate access as a supplement for support. Relationships are built on trust, and trust can only be built through communication, learning, and support. Technology is a great supplement to initial and ongoing engagement, but it cannot completely replace the value of a great conversation or individual support.


Check out our student solutions we offer at Greenwood Hall Here.

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish…. Starfish?


One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish….  Starfish?

From the desk of Bill Bradfield

Fifteen years ago I was investigating the quality of student customer service at a major Midwestern university and was advised that they had just purchased $100,000 in helpdesk software and needed no more help. As I investigated, I discovered that while the school had bought the software, they had never implemented it!! The containers, with the software, were still sitting unopened on a bookshelf!! The Help Desk Director pointed to the shelf and said the school had “checked the box” and was satisfied they had addressed the student customer service issue.

While that example is extreme, it does point to a tendency to “rely” on a software solution when a personal touch can drive much more rewarding results. The parallel to that help desk example can be found in the sole reliance on software solutions like Starfish to resolve the current crisis in student retention. I don’t want to downplay the importance of early warning systems like Starfish. Like help desk software, they are an important tool in the solution to student success and retention. However, they are only tools and require supplementation by effective people and processes to be truly effective. More importantly, at risk student behavior does not get flagged until it has already occurred, which is often too late to truly change the factors behind the student behavior.

So what do we know about the success of retention software? Here are some startling facts:
• 93% of all post-secondary institutions have employed early alert retention systems.
• Only 40% of institutions found that the systems actually improved retention rates.
• First year student retention has only increased 2% from 2012 to 2015 (National Center for Education Statistics – 2016).

To address this, many schools have created student support and counseling centers who provide counseling services as students get “alerts” from the retention software. While the jury is still out on the efficacy of this approach, its reliance reacting to alerts to drive counseling services makes its long term success questionable. Maybe another form of “checking the box?”

Our experience with proactive strategic coaching solutions, supplemented by an early alert system provides a much rosier picture of how to impact student retention. In fact, results from schools who have implemented proactive strategic coaching are demonstrably more compelling than those where an early alert system with reactive counseling has been utilized.
• A reduction of 17.5% per term in the number of “alerts” per student
• An average increase in term over term retention of nearly 15%
• Rates of Return on Investment averaging between 350% and 500%
• Recovery of millions of dollars in tuition that had previously “walked out the door.”

I would love to hear from you about your ideas and experiences with the “people, processes and tools” of the retention trade.