We wore hooded-sweatshirts

Last month I attended a national college fair in Minneapolis. The fair, held in a large convention center downtown, featured hundreds of universities from across the country, and for three days university representatives met with hundreds of students looking to make an important decision about their future.

I saw mostly stuffy, traditional, conservative, (and a handful of edgy) university identities on full display–most had the same “we’re unique like everyone else” messages for the swaths of high school students they encountered:

“Your adventure awaits.”

“Find yourself.”

“Ready to thrive.”

You get the idea. Continue reading

Build It. They Will Come

Attracting high school females to computing majors isn’t easy. If it was, we wouldn’t need national initiatives to solve the problem. At Michigan Technological University, we’ve been trying to crack this nut (er…code) for a few years through targeted communications, name buys, and information sessions.

Thanks to a grant from the National Center for Women in Information Technology (NCWIT), we were challenged to rethink our strategy. Rather than tell young women about careers in computing, how do we show them what they can do with computing?

It’s simple really. Build it.

Build code. Build a circuit board. Build a robot. Build an on-campus program. Continue reading

Co-op/Internship Experiences Increase Student Self-Efficacy

Co-ops and Internships are situations where students take their knowledge for a test drive. Companies hire these university students to work at their operations for 3 to 8 months, assigning them mentors and giving them real world work to complete individually and with teams or seasoned professionals. So what is the impact on the student of this experience?

A team of researchers led by Joseph Raelin at Northeastern University conducted a study to explore how these corporate experiences impacted the student’s self-efficacy. They created three categories of student self-efficacy to measure: work self-efficacy, career self-efficacy, and academic self-efficacy. They found that students that participated in co-ops and internships experienced increases in work and career self-efficacy, but actually experienced an incremental decrease in academic self-efficacy. Continue reading

First Year Retention

Like most institutions, Michigan Tech studies which of our students tend to fair the best academically. One of the ways we measure success is how many of our students persist from their first year to their second year. This metric, called first year retention, can be influenced by all sorts of variables. This past year 87% of our students retained from their first year to their second year.

Recently we asked ourselves, of all of the data points we know about accepted students before they enroll which of those tended to correlate highest with students who persisted from their first year to their second year. We looked at everything students tell us on both the application and in the Free Application for Federal Financial Aid (FAFSA). In addition we reviewed what we know about them from their behavior such as when they applied for admission or if they visited campus. We narrowed down that list to 61 variables and then looked back in history for the last three years to see which of those variables correlated highest with the students who retained from their first year to second. Continue reading

Different Types of Education Debt

There are no shortage of news stories citing that student borrowing (nationally) has surpassed $1.1 trillion. That figure covers every loan from private for-profit trade schools, to community colleges, to non-profit, to public, to grad schools. Borrowing covers education for skills/degrees ranging from beauticians to cardiac surgeons.

A comprehensive study released by Brookings, looks at the characteristics of borrowers, the institutions they attended, and how that contributed to rising loan default rates that are so much a part of the news. Continue reading

Higher Ed Marketing is Playing Catch Up

Higher Ed marketing is playing catch up. Administrators are figuring out what the business world already has—brand is just as important as the product.

With more than 2,500 universities and colleges in the United States—it’s clear prospective students have options.

So how does a college stand out? The answer: a memorable brand. A brand that connects.

Michigan Tech is looking inward by developing its brand to clearly understand the It Factor that attracted 1,277 new undergrad Huskies this year.

What is a brand anyway? And how does it fit into higher education?

A brand is the emotional connection our audience has with what we offer as a university. Conveying that message is the tricky part. It has to be simple and flexible for all departments, organizations, and units to effectively use. Continue reading

Industry Demand for Top Talent Continues to Rise

“The key is that employers can no longer afford to improvise when it comes to attracting and retaining talent to meet the aggressive demands for business growth at most companies. Rather, employers need to get serious about establishing a data-driven compensation strategy to meet their talent needs now and into the future” (Attack of the out-of-date comp plan, Payscale.com).

According to survey results from Payscale.com, 81% of industry is rushing to create a formal compensation strategy. With 73% seeing increased revenues, 89% are providing raises to retain top talent. Over 60% of the companies are worried about retaining top talent while similar results illustrate their anxiety to attract top talent coming out of the college pipeline. Companies are turning to active use of bonuses and a renewed focus on professional development and learning opportunities for their employees. Continue reading

Putting the Pieces Together

Undergraduate recruitment is like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Fun, challenging, frustrating, and gratifying when all the pieces come together. The only problem with the recruitment puzzle is that the final picture isn’t always clear. Here at Michigan Tech, we have several directives: recruit smarter students, more students, more female students, more students interested in STEM, more non-STEM students, more diverse students.

Despite all of this—or perhaps because of it—we welcomed the largest incoming class this fall since 2008. In addition, we had the highest number of applications in University history, the highest number of applications from female and minority students, and enrolled the highest percentage of female students in the incoming class in Tech’s history (28% if you’re curious; up from 19% in 2005). Continue reading

ROI on Higher Education

While return on educational investment (ROI) is not everything students and parents look for when they select an institution, it’s certainly more top of mind than it used to be. Payscale has a new interactive webpage to compare 20 year ROI against student loan debt upon graduation. Here I’ve filtered the scatterplot to show only research institution and noted a few stand-outs against Michigan Tech.