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Review of Documentary "Ivory Tower" - Monday Musings
During the Aligning Experts conference in Chicago, a sneak preview was held of the documentary Ivory Tower. A quick-take review concludes that the movie generally sensationalized a number of topics and spent too much time focusing on outlier institutions. Allow me to explain: The opening spent significant time discussing Harvard. The mainstream media love to write and talk about the Ivies; however, that’s not the reality of higher education for 99% of students and families. There was also significant time devoted to Cooper Union and the school’s recent decision to begin charging tuition, which sparked campus protests and the occupation of the president’s office for about 2 months. Again, what percentage of the college-going population…Read more

Tuition Remission and the Discount Rate - Monday Musings
As many of you know, the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) calculates discount rates by taking all institutional aid including athletic aid (whether from unfunded sources, endowment, or annual gifts) and dividing by tuition and mandatory fee revenues. However, tuition remission for the dependents of faculty and staff is NOT included as institutional aid because NACUBO considers such funds to be an employee benefit and therefore a human resource cost. While we agree that treatment of tuition remission makes sense, it can produce some strange results, particularly at small institutions. Taken to its extreme, if the entire freshman class at an institution was comprised of faculty/staff dependents receiving…Read more

Is a makeover needed for liberal arts colleges? - Monday Musings
A recent Wall Street Journal article reported on the “muscular makeover” of the Hindu gods that was happening in India. What is driving the change? According to the article, “the changes are part of a reimagining of Hindu stories that supporters say makes them more relevant to India’s middle-class youth, who are navigating a far different world than the one in which their parents lived.” As I read the article, it occurred to me that many liberal arts colleges in the United States are also going through a “makeover” in order to remain relevant to today’s college going youth and their parents, who are concerned about how well a college degree—particularly in the liberal arts—will prepare them for today’s workforce. In April…Read more

Gamification in Higher Education - Monday Musings
[Note: we occasionally ask friends and colleagues to act as guest bloggers. This post is provided by Julia Kurz, Associate Account Manager at Cognitive Marketing Inc.] The word “gamification” has been thrown around a lot lately in the world of higher education. Originally used in the marketing sector, gamification’s popularity stems from its ability to sell a product or brand more effectively by using metagames (short, playful experiences) to interact with customers on a more engaging level. Educators have already begun using gamification principles in the classroom, encouraging student academic success. For example, the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts has implemented gamification principles in the form…Read more

Managing Melt - Monday Musings
Whether or not your institution met its freshman enrollment goals by May 1, the challenge is on to minimize the “summer melt.” There will always be students who change their enrollment plans for a variety of reasons, some the institution can influence while others it cannot. There is little to be done about matters of personal choice and circumstance, such as family needs, medical emergencies, sudden interest in a field of study you don’t offer, etc. However, carefully managing students’ expectations and actively engaging them early can combat pressures like: being admitted off a wait-list at another institution, coming up with funds to pay the bill, and plain old cold feet. Meaningful connections Ensuring students form meaningful…Read more