Ready or not? Georgia pushes to get more kids into college

Determined to raise enrollment, Savannah State University President Cheryl Dozier began visiting high schools in metro Atlanta, telling administrators, “Let me talk to the kids who didn’t get into the colleges they wanted to attend. I don’t mind taking the leftovers of other universities.”

Once persuaded to enroll at Savannah State, students experience what Dozier calls “high touch.” She said if students are sleeping late and missing their first class, they can expect a knock on their door from a student affairs staff member telling them, “I heard you missed your 8 a.m. class for the last three days. Get up, get dressed and go to class.”

Graduate

Today, college presidents must worry about not only how many students enroll, but how many graduate. Once judged on how many kids walked in the door, colleges now face scrutiny from cost-conscious state legislatures on how many walk out with a marketable degree.

That concern is magnified in Georgia, where too few adults boast of the advanced education necessary for the job market. Now, 42 percent of Georgians hold a postsecondary degree; by 2020, 60 percent of jobs will require degrees, certificates or credentials beyond a high school diploma. At a forum Wednesday sponsored by the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, several public college presidents joined University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby in explaining how they are responding to that shortfall.

You can watch the entire forum here.

Huckaby said he became the head of public colleges at a precarious time: “Higher ed was really being questioned from so many points of view. We were too expensive. We weren’t relevant. Too much debt was being piled on students. We weren’t producing the kind of workforce Georgia needs.”

Now, Huckaby said, “The word of the day is ‘change.’ We have got to get more students admitted to our institutions, we have to do a better job of educating them, of advising them and helping them choose a path that is realistic for them, not only from an interest standpoint, but an aptitude standpoint.”

It’s a collective effort, said Huckaby, citing the state’s High Demand Career Initiative that considers which jobs are going unfilled for lack of qualified applicants. One of the first results was the new Georgia Film Academy, which grew out of the burgeoning movie industry’s need to import skilled workers from New York, he said.

“We are about to propose cyber security training, a joint collaborative center that will probably be at Georgia Tech,” he said. “There are thousands of jobs going unfilled in that industry.”

College professors contend the zeal to increase college attendance and completion has led to more unqualified students in their classes and more pressure to pass them.

Dozier acknowledged some Savannah State freshmen “lack the readiness for the rigor of college. With appropriate learning support, they are able to compete … not finishing in four years, but in five or six years.”

Sixty percent of Savannah State’s students are working their way through college, some at two jobs, Dozier said. “Like everyone else between the ages of 18 and 21, they would like to be on a campus where they could devote 100 percent of their time to academics, but they are unable to do that.”

Huckaby said more need-based aid is vital if Georgia hopes to spur college attendance. This fall, he said, 7,000 students fell off the rolls at registration because of money problems.

“So many students are not going to college or not remaining in school because they just don’t have the money,” he said. “It is heartbreaking to talk to students, and they are unable to finish for a lack of a few hundred dollars. These typically are first-generation students, a large proportion of them minorities, coming from economically challenged backgrounds.”

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44 comments
thenoticer
thenoticer

There are too many good conversations that take place here daily for it to go behind a pay wall. If administrators would pay close attention to this column, we might make some worthwhile changes in Georgia. I don't blame the AJC for trying to make a buck, but I wish someone would sponsor this blog as a community service. People share valuable information and insights.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@thenoticer 

So far, it appears that a good many of the regulars are AJC subscribers, I'm glad to see...although Quidocetdiscit has posted that she won't be among them, alas.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings


@OriginalProf

I am sure that you are correct about the specialized knowledge of college administrators; however, being aware of a wide range of aptitudes of students is not equivalent to understanding instructional principles.  We have seen that true with educational designers of NCLB. 

My comments are not meant to be insulting to anyone.  We all have our separate areas of expertise.  My comments are meant to inform, for those who are willing to hear.

What students should register for and what they actually register for are different, at times. Some students graduate from high school with high enough grades who are slow readers, and sometimes their grades have been inflated, as you have mentioned. Therefore, the college registrars who accept students' applications may be unaware of some students' functioning levels in reading skills. Professors rarely hear college students read aloud.

The point I was making was that there is a valid instructional reason that some students will choose to extend their time in college beyond 4 years, and that that is the best choice that these students should make who are slow readers. That fact should not be overlooked by college personnel.

Point
Point

Dozier's comment that these students may not graduate in 4 years, but possibly 5 or 6 is problematic.  When colleges state full-time status as 12 hours, students enrolling in only 12 hours will not graduate in 4 years.  The colleges benefit from collecting on 1 to 2 years additional tuition.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Point 

Remedial students who are behind, and behind because they may have lowered reading abilities, often take more than 4 years to graduate from college.  In fact, that educational design is often the wisest one for them to take as individuals, for these particular students will not have as many courses, and books, to read and absorb in any one semester as other students. Therefore, "time" remains the variable which needs to be allowed, and addressed individually, even in college, for all students who wish a college degree to achieve mastery of the course work in college - just as it should have been the variable allowed to students in elementary through high school, in order to have all students achieve mastery of high school curriculum. 

The creators of NCLB, evidently, had no instructional, working knowledge of this instructional truth when they demanded a model in which ALL students would achieve high school mastery within a decade, without also adjusting each child's instructional level to his/her precise functioning level and adjust rate for each student according to his/her ability to absorb concepts with 90% mastery before moving to higher conceptual coursework.


I am not so certain that college administrators are aware of these instructional facts/truths.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Point 

Sorry to report that, nationwide, the benchmark graduation time is 6 years. A great many students nowadays work part-time to avoid incurring student debt; many majors cannot offer all the required classes when students wish to take them; many students change majors at least once during college, which requires additional courses to be taken. It used to be that students expected to graduate from college in 4 years, but that has not been the average length of time for at least a decade.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@OriginalProf @Point 

All of the points you have made in your post, above, are true and so are the instructional truths which I have shared in my posts on this thread, regarding why some college students will choose to take less than the full requirement of coursework each semester. 

Sometimes slower readers are wise enough to know that they cannot pass their college work AND hold down a job if they take the full college course requirements per semester to graduate from college in 4 years.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@MaryElizabethSings @Point 

"Remedial students" probably should attend one of the 2-year "access colleges" in Georgia, and if their grades are high enough then transfer to one of the 4-year colleges or Universities. Their test scores and high school GPAs would probably rule out their being admitted to the 4-year schools. I think that college administrators, esp. those connected with the USG, are well aware of the spectrum of student aptitudes and intelligence.  That's why there are the differently ranked USG colleges and universities.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

I am sure that you are correct about that; however, being aware of a wide range of aptitudes is not equivalent to understanding instructional principles.  We have seen that true with educational designers of NCLB.  My comments are not meant to be insulting to anyone.  We all have our separate areas of expertise.  My comments are meant to inform, for those who are willing to hear.

@OriginalProf @Point 

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

I am having computer technical problems in typing on this blog.  By "about that" I was referring to the specialized knowledge of college administrators.  Hopefully, we all should be able to learn from others.  Hubris is destructive.

@OriginalProf @Point 

Point
Point

@OriginalProf @Point Last figure I saw was 60% taking more than 4 years.

The university both my sons graduated from doesn't allow students to declare a major until they have completed 30 hours.


OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Point @OriginalProf 

Yes, 60% taking more than 4 years in Georgia sounds about right. The figure I saw puts the # taking 4 years at 29%.

"Declaring a major" is the formal step with paperwork. But usually students take several courses in their major to be sure they want to "declare." Often, they find that required courses are not a good fit, and they change their minds...sometimes several times.  My own daughter wanted to have a pre-vet. major until she hit Organic Chemistry.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

The Savannah State President should check with Georgia State for more savvy ways of keeping college students on track than knocking on their dorm rooms if they miss class. Really! Georgia State has won national awards for its retention efforts aimed at minority students who are not from college backgrounds.  Advising programs that help students plan their coursework, mentoring programs, etc.

Point
Point

Post-secondary institutions are reacting to the change in government mandates attached to funding, just as k-12 schools have been forced to do after NCLB was enacted.  NCLB has not turned out college ready students as promised.  Knocking on a dorm door to get a student to class is not preparing them for the real world.

Regarding grade inflation and HOPE, my experience has been pressure coming from parents for teachers to provide lots of safety nets to make up work and re-take tests to raise their grades.

Until the people creating education law give educators an equal number of seats at  the table as they allow lobbyists, education will continue to be a social experiment.

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

The University's have one goal in mind, GET THAT MONEY by whatever means possible, no matter if the student walks away with a worthless degree in some obscure subject and 50K in student loan debt, the Bureaucrats have theirs. 

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

Can the state please provide a list of the "shovel ready" jobs with pay and benefit info, and the specific degrees that will allow the graduates to get these jobs?


Why is it incumbent on schools to produce educated, well trained, graduates for a vague description of "It’s a collective effort, said Huckaby, citing the state’s High Demand Career Initiative that considers which jobs are going unfilled for lack of qualified applicants." Does the state not owe it's citizens better data with which to choose education and training?

class80olddog
class80olddog

One way to better prepare Georgia students for college is, after they graduate high school, then teach them how to read and write!

CSpinks
CSpinks

@class80olddog Sad but true. My alma mater was swept down the tubes by an admissions policy which enrolled all comers with a pulse, the money, and a piece of paper from the Richmond County School System attesting to their prolonged enrollment there. A 4%, four-year graduation rate alerted the USG to the problem which they are correcting.

BLW56
BLW56

The focus should be on ensuring GA students are adequately prepared to succeed in college not just get in.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

I noticed a week ago or so that USG announced that they would begin issuing Associate (2 year) degrees to those students who had completed several years at USG schools but dropped out before graduation. This will improve the numbers of USG college graduates and possibly the graduation rates of the colleges involved, but will it really help the drop-outs on the job market?

popcornular
popcornular

Kinda like Armed Forces recruiting. 

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

This sounds more like college presidents trying to keep the money flowing.  From the inception of the HOPE Scholarship, colleges began enrolling marginal students, staffing the remedial classes with part time instructors, and bled the system dry.  Now that they have killed off that Golden Goose, they are struggling to find ways to keep the money flowing in.

I don't believe the "60% needing degree" statistic.  Again, that sounds more like propaganda to justify allowing these students into school that are not academically qualified to be there.


"She said if students are sleeping late and missing their first class, they can expect a knock on their door from a student affairs staff member telling them, “I heard you missed your 8 a.m. class for the last three days. Get up, get dressed and go to class.”"

Word to the wise, attendance is one of the few things that businesses can fire you for nowadays.  And no, we do not hire you off the street and start allowing you to telecommute first thing.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@OriginalProf @Lee_CPA2 

Actually, the more fundamental reason why colleges find themselves "enrolling marginal students," who are in need of remedial classes, is that from elementary through high school many students have not been taught on their individual, precise instructional levels throughout 12 years of school. That is the fundamental problem which must be addressed, as far back as elementary grades, in order to correct the problem of "all those marginal students needing remediation in the first place" in colleges.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@OriginalProf @Lee_CPA2

Good point, and it is probably a combination of both.  Grade inflation allowed them to get in and HOPE eliminated the financial risk.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Lee_CPA2 @OriginalProf 

If the students had been correctly placed and instructed on their individually correct levels for 12 years, irrespective of grade level demarcations, there would have been no need to inflate grades.  Students would be mastering concepts and skills at their own rates in order to achieve full mastery. 

We must get to the root of this remedial problem, and not simply analyze the bandaid that has covered it up - grade inflation. Remedial students have existed for as long as I have taught school, beginning 45 years ago.  Until the sound instructional principles within continuous progress/mastery learning are implemented from grades 1 - 12 or 13, some students will continue to be "remedial," from their elementary years into their college years.


MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@BurroughstonBroch

As an instructional model, social promotion is not the same as continuous progress/mastery learning. Neither is failing students in entire grade levels the same as continuous progress/mastery learning.  I learned from the best.  I am simply trying to share what my former innovative principal understood, decades before his time, with those working to improve traditional public schools today, before I pass, for the benefit of countless children today and of those students and teachers of the future who will continue to function within not for profit, public education.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Lee_CPA2 

I really would not blame HOPE problems on the colleges for "enrolling marginal students" and "staffing the remedial classes classes with part time instructors."  I would say that the rampant grade inflation in Georgia's high schools after HOPE began had more to do with producing all those marginal students needing remediation in the first place.


BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

@MaryElizabethSings @BurroughstonBroch  Regardless of the technical name, moving a student into a higher grade when the student has not mastered the requirements of the present grade is a sham and a travesty, leading to today's situation. Two of my children who teach today (Fulton and Gwinnett) say there is hell to pay and their careers are at risk if they try to hold a student back.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Lee_CPA2 @OriginalProf 

HOPE required a B average while in college, which was the downfall of many students whose high school GPA had been inflated.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@BurroughstonBroch @MaryElizabethSings 

"Continuous Progress/Mastery Learning" is not a "technical name"; it is a fundamental change from the "grade level" perceptions of instructing students and is based on the sound principles of child developmental.

It is obvious that you have never been an educator.  Your instructional ignorance is showing. 

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@OriginalProf 

Which, again, indicates that legislators have little knowledge of instructional truths and instructional facts needed to pass educational laws which will result in the growth of all students.

Even more sadly for the parents, teachers, and students, these lawmakers evidently do not have the humility to acknowledge that some teachers may know instructional truths better than they do as lawyers and businessmen and women.  Social status. determined by career power and wealth, weighs more heavily in their thinking of who knows best instructionally for the development of students, and teachers are on the lowest ring of totem pole status in their minds.  Lawmakers would be wise to shift their thinking to start to respect teachers, or teachers, I believe, will insist on Teachers' Unions in this state. Truth cannot lie dormant forever - including instructional truths.

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

@MaryElizabethSings @BurroughstonBroch  I am not an educator but I am an educated person. Regardless of whatever educator's technobabble term you use, the problem remains - students are being placed in a higher grade than their accomplishments. What was the Peter Principle in business has become the Peter Principle in the public schools - promoting students beyond their accomplishments. This leads to today's scandal of high school "graduates" unable to read at a 7th grade level.

JK1951
JK1951

I wonder how many beginning students of Savannah State end up making more than an ac man or plumber? Especially if they start a small business. My guess would be not many after paying off their loans and losing 4-5 years of earnings.

DoubleSubject
DoubleSubject

Pushing too many young people who are unwilling (or at best ambivalent) about higher education AND who are academically unprepared is a foolish proposition. 

Many drop out having managed only to increase their debts and find themselves back at home living with their parents in dead-end jobs.

Students need to have more options presented to them that include skilled trades or a stint (or career) in military service.  

WardinConyers
WardinConyers

I was a professor in a university system college for 13 years.  Many of the students were terribly unprepared for college, and not just academically.  I had students who had few behavioral skills.  Many would show up late without regret.  Cheating was rampant, and after the first semester, nearly half of them were gone.  Many only went to assuage their parents who were often clueless as well.  I truly believe that college is not for everyone.  Society pressures kids with no direction to go anyway, only to fail. Some even gamed the system by coming to class only long enough to grab the financial aid, then disappear.  What a joke.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@WardinConyers 

A great many of the loopholes that  allowed students to game the system thus have been eliminated with the colleges' general rise in admission standards, change in the rules for PELL grants, and the USG removal of remedial courses from  the list of college-credit courses. I think this change came when the state began basing funding on graduation rates several years ago, not enrollment rates.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@WardinConyers 

Your testimony give credence to the adage that "a mind is terrible thing to waste."  The saddest part of our present K - College instructional design is that the students and the parents, and probably most of the teachers, have no idea why this disaster of lack of educational success has happened to so many students in the last half century. Their ignorance will cause them to continue to blame one another, instead of tackling the root instructional problem.

Ignorance of instructional principles and of child development has not been bliss for our society.  Even most educational leaders are naive to the instructional truths I have tried to share for years on this blog.  (Thank you, Maureen Downey, for this avenue of communication to others.)

CSpinks
CSpinks

My concern is that unready enrollees will be pushed out four, five or six years later unprepared for adult life.


That GaPubEd graduates so many kids unprepared for college, other post-secondary schooling, work or other aspects of adult living is  SCANDALOUS.


GaPubEd needs an exhaustive evaluation by "the fresh eyes" out-of-state experts would bring it.

NewName
NewName

@CSpinks - We don't need anyone from out-of-state. 


If parents were willing to parent and teach their children responsibility, teachers were allowed to teach w/o administrative policies forcing them to take late work through the remainder of the grading period w/ very little grading penalty and administrators would help build programs that would offer relevant and varied vocational training, I guarantee you we could fix a LOT of this.


Students who are responsible and want to do their work would do it and grade inflation wouldn't be an issue. Students who aren't as academically inclined would have a reason to come to school and could get a leg up on their future.