A number of education stories made a lasting impression in 2016, from early college and career readiness conversations to the growing popularity of the post-high school gap year. Here’s a look at key insights we shared on the Hobsons Education Advances blog in 2016.

  1. College and career conversations are starting earlier.
    We saw many news stories in 2016 about how college and career readiness programs in middle and even elementary schools have intensified the debate about how soon might be too soon to plan for life after high school. No matter where you sit, we found that savvy school leaders are shifting the college planning conversation from “when” to “how” in order to improve outcomes without creating undue anxiety for kids and families. For example, school counselors like Lori Batts in Maryland are helping students visualize their futures before they reach high school by understanding their learning styles, interests, and talents. Because students are eager to explore their interests beginning at a very young age, it’s critical that all students have access to quality information that will help them later in life to make the best educational decisions to reach their goals.
     
  2. Dual enrollment is a growing student success strategy.
    Dual credit programs have been part of the educational landscape in the United States for more than 60 years, but recognition of their value and benefit to students is on the rise. After surveying members of AASA, The Superintendents Association, we learned that dual credit programs are ubiquitous, benefit students and families, and strengthen collaboration between K-12 and higher ed. And, through our research with the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), we found that higher education institutions are embracing dual enrollment as a strategic enrollment initiative.
     
  3. It’s OK for students to consider a gap year. Just ask Malia Obama.
    The news that Malia Obama is taking a hiatus from classrooms before she enters Harvard University in 2017 piqued interest in the “gap year,” a popular option for high school seniors who seek experiences outside of the classroom before starting college. No longer just for affluent students, we found that gap programs are becoming more accessible and the stats really do support gaps. In an episode of Upgraded by Hobsons, we explored how gap years can help students discover a new path, gain an extra year of maturity, add depth to an existing interest, or even prevent a costly mistake, like picking the wrong major or school.
     
  4. More must be done to support students in their postsecondary journeys, particularly for lower-income students and nontraditional students.
    According to a recent study from the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy, students from low-income backgrounds are not only less likely to complete college, but they are also more likely to attend colleges with lower graduation rates. But providing strong support in the form of counseling and advising during key periods during students’ college-search and college-going experience can have a significant effect on the number of lower-income students who attend college. In addition, transfer students make up a large, and growing, student population, and they require careful attention. Research shows that too many transfer students are not able to accomplish their goals, but there are many strategies that can be employed to make transferring a meaningful and productive pathway for students.
     
  5. Higher education institutions are turning to predictive analytics to individualize student success.
    Colleges and universities are being held accountable for accurately identifying students likely to succeed, finding students who can succeed with targeted supports, and achieving specific performance outcomes. Luckily, using predictive analytics can help institutions align people, data, and systems across an institution and throughout the student experience to foster a culture of student success. And, technology is key for institutional leadership to be able to make data-informed decisions, measure student outcomes, and empower students to engage with their campus communities.
     

2016 Year in Review Infographic

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