Perceptions on Market Research: How Essential is College?

Lumina and Gallup recently released some information regarding education polls that highlight some insight into the necessity of college from the perspective of the public. In terms of our own research at CALL, further analysis of such information is imperative to understanding who is saying what.

The polls state that:

Most Americans see a college degree as a necessary step toward attaining quality employment. Nearly 7 in 10 U.S. adults (69%) strongly agree or agree that having a college degree is essential for getting a good job in this country, according to a recent study by Gallup and Lumina Foundation for Education.

This data aligns with the idea that people with college education fair better in the volatile job market that exists today.

What we do find odd is that most of our students and applicants (86%) are full-time or part-time employed and still seeking a degree in some form. Many of these do not have a degree, or lack a four-year degree, but are simply looking for more knowledge.

The report continues:

Advancement and Career change seem to be the most motivating factors in this survey. Agreeably, it is hard to argue with the necessity of consistent monetary gain, but again, CALL Research on students and applicants tells us that the number one reason that people go back to college is for Fulfillment, which, according to Gallup might mean “To become a well-rounded person” or “To learn more about the world.”

For CALL research, it was not education status that determined the difference in motivation, be it Fulfillment, Job Promotion, Job Eligibility or so forth. Age and time were the leading reasons for motivations to change.

Since CALL researched a focused group of people who inquired in, applied to or actually were part of the CALL program, those students had a particular perspective, one different it seems from the populace as a whole (represented by the 1,001 Gallup respondents).

Although we plan to have more in store for the “Perceptions on Marketing Research” column (especially with Complete College America’s data release this week that we are anxious to begin discussing, the idea of “perception” was unclear, because that is the problem.

While Gallup is showing that people “perceive” college to be important and essential to finding a job, our research shows that most students and inquirers already have jobs. And while we have not completely digested CCA’s new report, it also brought to light the idea of the changing student, one who takes longer to get a degree, because they are ALREADY working in a job.

We know that changes lie ahead for education, and for our adult students, but perception seems to already be the answer. It may not be the answer we wanted to this problem, but maybe we all perceive this problem differently, and until we find common ground, there will be no answer.


Source: Gallup

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Defining Success In Other States

Adult students are finding success throughout the country. The Chicago-Tribune shares a piece today about adult students and how they work through their responsibilities and add a degree to their skill-set.

Today universities and colleges are making it more convenient than ever for adults to return to the classroom. Although many adult students find it to be a challenge they also look back and can’t believe how quickly the experience goes.

The article outlines the challenges of school and the various needs of adult students, from studying around work, and the responsibilities of children.

Finding a quite place, taking walks, cooking meals ahead, telling family when you can’t be interrupted and keeping a calendar of home priorities and school assignments were top among students’ suggestions to making it to graduation. Ladwig finds music alleviates his stress as well as taking breaks.

We know our adult students can relate. Find the full article here.


Source: The Chicago-Tribune

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Older Students Increasing in Numbers

Keeping up with national trends, a new blog post has surfaced about the increase in older students. As graduation rates remain stagnant, and the country pushes towards increasing degree attainment, older students are one of the biggest factors in raising the numbers.

According to the National Center for Education, between 1995 and 2006, the enrollment of students over age 25 rose by 13 percent. Its 2007 statistics indicated that over 40 percent of the 16 million U.S. college students were over age 25. 2010 statistics from the U.S. Department of Education reveal that approximately 5 million, or 25 percent, of college students nationwide are over age 30.

Many middle aged Americans have been the victim of the recession, layoffs, and corporate downsizing. Many have turned to taking college courses as a way to learn new skills, have a career change, or get an advanced degree. Some see it as a way to reinvent themselves.

We see adults return for various reasons. Sometimes they want to change their lot in life. Sometimes they want to earn something they stopped earning a long time ago. Sometimes they want to change their career.

But the blog points out:

The advent of online or distance learning has also made it easier and more convenient for older students to go back to college. Most major public and private four year universities now offer courses online…

As the status of education changes, so does the modes we offer education in, molding it to fit our growing populations. Hopefully this trend will continue and offer the many necessities for the adult learner: Online and accelerated learning, PLA credit acceptance, and specific support services.

See the full piece here.


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Targetting “Some College, No Degree” Statewide and Nationally

Inside Higher Education outlines some of the national efforts to contact those with “Some College, No degree.” In Washington, the Institute for Higher Education Policy met to discuss these topics and whether or not they were the key to certain benchmarks being set throughout the country. From the President, to regional and state governments, many units are setting new graduation goals, trying to raise the graduation rates for the entire country.

We know that in Louisiana, even graduating every single high school senior will not help the issue, we have to turn to other options. One such option are adults with some college and no degree.

Clifford Adelman, a senior associate at the institute, discussed the group’s Project Win-Win, which in its first seven months helped nine institutions award nearly 600 associate degrees and identify almost 1,600 students using a chosen set of parameters, including missing a degree by nine or fewer credits and the grades required for graduation.

Project Win-Win is another project that has worked alongside CALL in the state of Louisiana. Specifically targeting those who are a few credits away from a degree. While CALL targets specifically working adults who need certain services and program types to meet their needs, Project Win-Win has been instrumental in pursuing higher college graduation rates in the state of Louisiana.

Part of what we do is find specialized degrees:

Thompson said students want a specialized program, something they know they will be able to use in the workforce.

CALL tailors the degree offerings to Louisiana Workforce Commission data so that your knowledge and skills are expanded into employable areas.

“If we can capture this low-hanging fruit, we begin this process that is important not just to those men and women, to your institution, to your cities and your metro regions, but literally to the planet. It is that important.”

It is that important to the state of Louisiana, which is why CALL and even Project Win-Win have been enacted in the state. We are trying to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to adults. Check out our homepage for more information!


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20 Surprising Higher Education Facts

U.S. News and World Report wrote a recent post about the “20 Surprising Facts in Higher Education.” The post details some facts about higher education related to cost or attendance. And again we see the very problematic figure:

15. Less than one third of Americans hold at least a bachelor’s degree, but at least 30 percent of adults in 16 states—mostly on the coasts—have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher.

We know that in Louisiana the rate is less than a third. Rates in the country as a whole are very low. Mostly due to other factors like:

10. The annual family income of more than 47 percent of undergraduates is less than $40,000.

And this goes for potential CALL students where the average income of a CALL student is $34,000.

16. Between 1999 and 2009, undergrad enrollment at for-profit schools soared 539 percent compared with 32 percent for public institutions.

The growth of for-profit universities, which usually cater to adult students and those with varied responsibilities. But, the cost at these institutions is far higher, students exit with far higher debt than they would from a state university.

See the rest of the article here.

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Program Spotlight: Family and Child Studies

The Family & Child Studies degree program at McNeese State University is
a program offered through CALL. Classes are online and are offered in an accelerated format to allow flexibility to non-traditional students who have job and family commitments and therefore have difficulty attending classroom sessions during the regular work day.

Online courses allow you to access class information and assignments at a time convenient to you. CALL classes are offered in quarter sessions. This means that instead of the regular 16 week long semester course, classes will be taught in 8 week sessions. For example, if you wish to take 4 classes in a semester, instead of taking all 4 classes all semester long, you will take 2 classes at a time, during an 8 week session. At the end of those 8 weeks, you will follow up with another 2 classes for the remaining 8 weeks in the regular semester. You can take as many courses as you can successfully handle in the time available to you. Advisors are available and accessible to help guide you through your class selection process and for general advising during your time in the program.

You may pursue your BS Degree or your Associate’s degree with a concentration in Family & Child Studies. Many State, Non-profit, Faith-based and Private agencies need specialists in Family & Child Studies to work in services such as: Adoption and Foster Care; Child Care & Day Care; Child Protection; Children & Youth Services; Extension Programs; Family Support Services; Parenting Education; Headstart; Community Family Services; Juvenile Justice; Programs for the Disabled; Services for the Elderly; Social & Recreational Development; Social Welfare. A Bachelor’s degree qualify you for jobs in Family Service Agencies, Projects and Departments, and Private Sector Employee Services; Jobs include: Case Worker, Case Manager, Child Care Manager or Supervisor, Family Advocate; Family Group Counselor; Headstart Provider, Teacher or Manager, Parent Educator, or Youth worker. You may also be self-employed in home-based Day-Care services. An Associate degree qualifies you to be a Headstart aide or Family Services Aide for senior citizens or the disabled.

Admission into CALL is reserved for non-traditional students (25 years of age and over), or students who have difficulty balancing job and family with school. To get admitted into the program as an in-coming student or a transfer student, you must:

  • Meet the required standard for acceptance into McNeese State University as a degree-seeking student
  • Officially enroll at McNeese State University for acceptance into the Family and Child Studies on-line program
  • Contact the CALL office at McNeese for registration information
  • Complete a CALL application
  • Contact an academic advisor for the Family & Child Studies Concentration
  • If you are a current McNeese student wishing to change majors and pursue a major in Family & Child Studies, you should simply contact the CALL office listed below.

Through the CALL program, you will be on the fast-track to complete your degree through on-line classes and services, accelerated course delivery, and Prior Learning Assessment.

Contact information:
e-mail to
Telephone: 337-562-4220; FAX to 337-562-4223; Regular mailing address BOX 90135,
MSU, Lake Charles, LA 70609

Or Start Now!

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Self-Assessment: Knowing is Half the Battle

Or so goes the old saying from G.I. Joe. Most likely, you are either old enough to have watched the show, or have kids who did or do. And as ridiculous as men shooting random blue and red lasers around can be (and new movies), the idea that “Knowing is half the battle,” is quite poignant.

Our research has shown that potential adult students treat school like a large purchase. This isn’t just research, this is logical. Adults have life experience and responsibilities. They might have made some bad purchases in the past, they might have a tight personal budget, they might consider every single purchase they make, looking for the best value.

As with any large purchase, CALL wants to make sure you feel like it is a good investment, like you can do it. Our tools for self assessment are part of that. Most importantly, our newest website tool, the SmarterMeasure Assessment, is a far more comprehensive assessment that can give you, as a potential adult learner, a much more in-depth view of your own skills.

It tests your reading and writing skills, your technical competency and even your environment, a critical part of your path to success. By allowing a potential student to see where they fit in, the assessment can let them make the most informed and viable decision. Potential students can make sure that their future investment is worth it. Even if an adult is looking at school for personal fulfillment (another indication of our research) financial concerns are still the #1 obstacle to obtaining a degree.

Self-assessments can that decision easier.  Please see our new online assessment.

In a future post we will specifically highlight the self-assessment test.

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Collaborative Learning: What Does it Mean?

A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education question the idea of how learning is continually changing. Collaborative Learning is not a new concept. In fact, it existed before it was a concept at all, seeing as community is the beginning of collaboration.

But that simple idea has taken on so much more meaning as the internet has grown and changed. The growth of smartphones, the immediacy of content and the ability for anyone anywhere to connect make the problem more complex, the issues for education, more critical.

In her article, Cathy Davidson makes the point that:

Unfortunately, current practices of our educational institutions—and workplaces—are a mismatch between the age we live in and the institutions we have built over the last 100-plus years. The 20th century taught us that completing one task before starting another one was the route to success. Everything about 20th-century education, like the 20th-century workplace, has been designed to reinforce our attention to regular, systematic tasks that we take to completion. Attention to task is at the heart of industrial labor management, from the assembly line to the modern office, and of educational philosophy, from grade school to graduate school.

Are we behind the times? Davidson goes on to explain collaboration in terms of new words like “crowdsourcing,” and apply the concept to grading specifically. But the underlying idea here is that our own ideas, our own criticisms can be more interconnected, and that some of our best learning and practices should be done together.

This idea goes for both universities and colleges, as they need to change with the times, and students, who should seek out the help of others more effectively. Davidson notes:

Students who had grown up connected digitally gravitated to ways that the iPod could be used for collective learning.

So adults, as one of there obstacles to overcome, can broaden their own learning by mimicking the interconnectivity that young students more easily display.

When I had both samples in front of me, I discovered something curious. Their writing online, at least in their blogs, was incomparably better than in the traditional papers. In fact, given all the tripe one hears from pundits about how the Internet dumbs our kids down, I was shocked that elegant bloggers often turned out to be the clunkiest and most pretentious of research-paper writers. Term papers rolled in that were shot through with jargon, stilted diction, poor word choice, rambling thoughts, and even pretentious grammatical errors (such as the ungrammatical but proper-sounding use of “I” instead of “me” as an object of a preposition).

Davidson’s findings supported the idea that a more collaborative environment produced better, more attentive students (at least for the small sample size).

Our question to adult students is: Do you think more collaborative learning would be beneficial to your educational progress? Do you think CALL’s classes encourage collaborative learning?

Davidson ends by saying:

There are many ways of crowdsourcing, and mine was simply to extend the concept of peer leadership to grading. The blogosphere was convinced that either I or my students would be pulling a fast one if the grading were crowdsourced and students had a role in it. That says to me that we don’t believe people can learn unless they are forced to, unless they know it will “count on the test.” As an educator, I find that very depressing. As a student of the Internet, I also find it implausible. If you give people the means to self-publish—whether it’s a photo from their iPhone or a blog—they do so. They seem to love learning and sharing what they know with others. But much of our emphasis on grading is based on the assumption that learning is like cod-liver oil: It is good for you, even though it tastes horrible going down. And much of our educational emphasis is on getting one answer right on one test—as if that says something about the quality of what you have learned or the likelihood that you will remember it after the test is over.

We see so much new collaboration out there, a constant and ever-evolving flow of information. Why should education be any different for the students?

Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education

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CALL Featured on National Radio Program

CALL has been featured on a national radio program. American RadioWorks, a subsidiary of American Public Media, has just released a report on the growing problem of some college and no degree in our country.

American RadioWorks

In the report are producer Emily Hanford’s analysis of the problem through the eyes of faculty, private sector management, administration, and most importantly, students.

Hear the stories of two CALL students, John McGee and Marilyn Johnson Jackson, as they tell what it is like to be a potential and graduated adult student.

Listen to their stories here.

Find more information at the American RadioWorks website.

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Online Education Myths

Check out College Degrees Today’s post on Myths About Online Education.

Included is a comment on the fear of not learning with a community:

Myth: Distance learning is too independent, what if I need help?

Fact:  Just like traditional schooling, distance learners can contact their teachers and interact with students. The method for asking questions may be different than simply raising your hand and being called on. But, you can contact teachers through e-mail, Skype or even through phone calls, depending on the teacher’s preference. Many courses encourage students to interact through forums where they can ask questions about the material and discuss their opinions.

Find the full article here.

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