Monday, December 17, 2007

Keep Your Eyes Out for This Year's Top 25

December 17, 2007- As numbers are almost through being crunched, we are getting excited to once again announce our 2nd Annual Top 25 Colleges & Universities. Ok, so our Top 25 list may not create the controversy that the BCS (Bowl Championship Series) will create in college football this holiday season, but the results nonetheless will turn some heads. Early polls are indicating that we may have a new #1 as well as some new schools joining our list.

Our Top 25 Colleges & Universities are based on the number of students choosing the college for their college list. College lists represent the schools to where students will use Connect! to apply this year. Connect! students have already applied to nearly 2,500 colleges and universities in the U.S. this year.

Stay tuned for the posting of our list in early January…

Friday, December 14, 2007

There Is a Star Among Us!

Congratulations to CDU Team Member, Jeff Alderson and his Acappella Group- Overboard

December 14, 2007- Our very own Director of Strategic Partnerships, Jeff Alderson and his acappella group Overboard have been selected among thousands as a Top Five Finalist in the CBS News Early Show/Boyz II Men Acappella Competition. If Jeff and the rest of the members of Overboard win the competition, (and we are certainly all pulling for you Jeff) they will be performing this Wednesday, live at CBS in New York City at 8:00 AM with yes – Boyz II Men.

We are also thrilled to be having Overboard perform this evening at the CDU Holiday Party. Best of luck Jeff!

Click here to watch the announcement of the finalists.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Connect! in the News in Ohio

December 5, 2007- The Connect! National Network! has quickly become the nation’s largest “going-to-college-to-career” web solution. We’re the only solution with integration that builds a data bridge between high schools and colleges…and more importantly for students focusing on college choice…we’re national, so students are not limited by state borders.

A recent news story featured Connect! in Ohio and showcased a student making college plans to one of our college partners in Michigan. As our regional networks strengthen, we expand opportunities for young people and help them find the schools that are a best fit, regardless of location.

Check out this great story below from WTOL-TV in Toledo.

Record-Breaking Month for ConnectEdu

November 29, 2007- This Fall the Connect! National Network™ has welcomed a record number of colleges and universities. In November over twenty new institutions joined the Connect! Network, highlighted in our recent press release. In addition to expanding our network nationally, these additional partners have strengthened our regional networks in Missouri, Michigan and New Jersey.

With four new colleges – Central Christian College of the Bible, Drury University, Washington University and William Woods University- our total participation by colleges in the Show Me State is now 20. In Michigan, Ferris State University became the 13th college to join the Michigan network and in New Jersey, we welcomed both Bloomfield College and Montclair State University to our expanding east coast network.

This fall we’ve also launched Connect! in new states including North Dakota, West Virginia, Illinois, and Tennessee. In Massachusetts and Kansas, we are establishing a two-year to four-year pipeline as more community colleges in those states recognize the value of an integrated web solution to streamline admissions and the transfer process.

While these state and regional networks continue to grow, more and more students are enjoying national exposure to higher education. Good stuff!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The World is Your Classroom

November 6, 2007- When I think back to my own education, much of what I have learned relative to leadership, character, relationship building and determination was the result of numerous “out-of-classroom” experiences. Whether it was speech & debate, student government, or athletics, the student, the entrepreneur and the person that I am today was largely shaped by opportunities that were not part of my core academic curriculum.

With the latest release of Connect! v.5.0, we introduced C!Opp- a new feature that exposes students to “out-of-classroom” educational opportunities directly through Connect!. These opportunities range from leadership to study abroad to service learning programs. C!Opp is designed to broaden horizons, introduce new opportunities, and show students that the world is their classroom.

In addition, C!Opp was designed to insure that overworked counselors or underfunded guidance departments still have the ability to introduce their students to a variety of fantastic learning opportunities, each of which has a high correlation to college-bound rates. We are open to suggestions with C!Opp, so if you know of an “out-of-classroom” program that provides students with fantastic experiences, please let us know.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Connect! Counselors Sending 200+ Transcripts and Letters of Recommendation Daily

October 31, 2007- While the college admissions cycle for Fall 2007 is just beginning and applications are just starting to flow, CDU has already processed documents to nearly 508 different colleges/universities. Connect! high schools are, on average, sending 200+ transcripts and letters of recommendation DAILY!

Check out the full list of colleges/universities that our high schools are sending documents to today.

If you are a college on this list and you are not registered for C!Doc – our FREE electronic transcript and letter of recommendation solution – we would encourage you to make the lives of HS counselors and students everywhere much easier by getting your institution registered.

You can register by going to: http://www.connectedu.net/solutions/college/CDoc/. Once you have arrived at the link, follow the 3 Simple Steps that are described. If you need assistance, email– clientservices@connectedu.net –and a ConnectEdu Account Manager will assist you.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ludlow High School – A Connect! Model High School

October 23, 2007- The Register, a weekly newspaper in Western Massachusetts, ran a great article earlier this week featuring Ludlow High School and their utilization of Connect!. In the article, Ludlow High School’s Director of Guidance Arlene Tierney and Counselor Linda Duame point out several of the key benefits that both the high school and the students are experiencing with Connect!:

-It’s Comprehensive… tracking of the entire college process for counselors to monitor student’s progress across each step of their college/ career planning

-Free… which allowed Ludlow to end the contract with a similar solution that was charging them $1,000 per year

It’s great because we’re saving money for our school, and it’s also cost-saving for students, too,” said Tierney.

-Simplification of the process itself… user-friendly service that allows students convenient access at both school and home

“The entire registration process for each student is simple. It’s a two-part process, and it only takes about 15 minutes,” said Duame.

-Utilization… their kids are using Connect! and are already sending out college applications, and by the end of the school year all students will be registered

We have only 49 seniors and 41 juniors left that need to complete registration,” said Duame.

-Service… the Guidance Department at Ludlow High has taken advantage of free service and training from their CDU Account Manager and has been provided with “excellent technological service

-Growth… the Connect! Network™ continues to expand both in New England and throughout the country providing students at Ludlow, with more opportunities

“Although ConnectEdu is a fairly young company, it is expanding rapidly, grabbing the attention of many school systems throughout New England,” said Tierney and Duame.

Read the full story in The Register

Friday, October 19, 2007

Connect! v.5.0 Offers a Solution that States Have Been Waiting For

October 19, 2007- On a recent trip to the Midwest, I met with state education officials and educational professionals both from public and private schools (high school and post secondary). After a great discussion with the group, a couple of the attendees tracked me down in the hallway. They wanted to discuss the comprehensive nature of Connect!, and specifically they were curious if Connect! was simply college focused or if it included an integrated (automated coordination with the HS’s Student Information Management System) COLLEGE AND CAREER solution.

So as I stood there listening to their questions and their reasons for why such a solution was needed, I was unable to hold back the grin on my face. Not only were they exactly right, but we had just deployed Connect! v5.0 that morning.

With the release of Connect! v5.0 (this past Monday) - we have marked a new path in providing high school students, parents and counselors with a comprehensive, integrated Career and College Planning solution. As our CTO stated at our internal ‘release party’, “Our team has ventured to boldly go where no organization has gone before when it comes to providing students with a comprehensive college and career planning solution. Our curriculum guide and its interconnectivity to the high school student information system, careers, college majors, as well as actual college and employer profiles is a first step in answering the age old question facing young people – ‘Just what the heck does this class have to do with the rest of my life?’ … and a darn good first step, I might add.”

The tireless efforts of the CDU design and development team, coupled with the direct feedback from our high school advisory board and beta schools, has resulted in an innovative solution to help students, families, and counselors make education and career transitions in a thoughtful, integrated manner.

In v.5.0, students are able to create curriculum plans to map out the courses they plan to take at their high school based on graduation requirements and incorporated transcript data. In addition to being able to track their progress relative to graduation requirements and their curriculum plan, students are able to map their curriculum plan to one of over 300+ careers that are now included in Connect! and over 150 majors that may lead to those careers.

We even added information on over 27,000 employers so that students can research the organizations that specialize in their areas of interest.

In addition, the normalization of high school curriculums and course guides provides our college partners with a unique opportunity to begin to normalize plans of study across multiple high schools as they make admissions decisions … further leveling the college access playing field!

For counselors and parents, v.5.0 provides the tools necessary to engage your students and begin to develop and complete their “road map” to success!

Kudos to our design, development and advisory teams for producing a solution that is sure to change our industry as we continue to help families navigate both college and career transitions.

For more information on Connect! v.5.0 call us at 888-887-8380.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What a Difference a Year Can Make NACAC 07

October 10, 2007- NACAC 2007 lived up to the hype as both NACAC and the City of Austin were great hosts for this year’s annual conference. While in Austin, I was thrilled to see the number of current partners that stopped by to see us at the booth or came out for the CDU Late Night. It was great to spend time with our current partners as well as have numerous discussions with those looking to join the Connect! Network.

NACAC for me is about these relationships – rekindling the old and getting acquainted with the new as well as spending time with our own field based team. As Connect! spreads from state to state and provides more access to higher education than ever before, our relationships with our partners (counselors and admission officers) are at the core of our organization.





Over 300% More Visits to Connect!

October 4, 2007- Numbers, as you know, can be used to serve many purposes and are often manipulated and inflated in our industry. But when accurate, numbers can tell a story. At ConnectEdu, we have experienced incredible growth over the last 12 months … and not all of this growth can be captured in numbers, but let me give it a shot:

•From 75 high schools to over 1,000
•From 15,000 registered students to over 500,000
•From 15 employees to 75+
•From 1,000 recurring visitors per day to nearly 7,000


During the middle of last week alone, we experienced a 300% increase in the number of daily visits.

ConnectEdu is no longer the new kid on the block in the college admissions process. More and more, high schools, colleges and community colleges are joining our network and deploying a better, more streamlined way to manage the “going to college” process. The numbers are one thing, but the real story is in the opportunity to help so many more students realize their goals!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

NACAC Sure To Be Productive … as well as A Good Time

September 13, 2007- The ConnectEdu team is looking forward to this year’s NACAC Conference in Austin, Texas. With only two weeks until the conference kicks off, the team has a number of exciting announcements and product updates in store for release at the conference in addition to a robust calendar of events. Attendees have already received their pre-conference invitations. For those of you that are loyal blog subscribers, check out CDU’s planned activities including our Thursday presentation, CDU Late Night, and more:

ConnectEdu Schedule at NACAC 2007

For the real, “double secret probation” announcements, call my phone and present the “secret password” … then I’ll let you in on the secrets. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at NACAC.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

ConnectEdu Makes Electronic Documents Available to High Schools, Community Colleges and Colleges…For Free

September 11, 2007- That’s right, re-read that headline…ConnectEdu is making the transmission of electronic transcripts and letters of recommendation available to high schools, community colleges and colleges – FOR FREE. Consistent with our ongoing belief that the transmission of PDF transcripts is of limited value by comparison to our ability to more effectively connect (no pun intended) students and colleges as well as transmitting XML or EDI documents, we have decided to make signing onto our electronic document transmission network a NO BRAINER.

We are calling this new electronic document exchange product – C!Doc. (We voted and the team liked it…should have seen some of the other suggestions.) At any rate, if you are an authorized recipient of electronic documents at your college and would like to register to begin receiving PDF transcripts and letters of recommendation call 888-887-8380 to initiate the registration and download process. Keep in mind that we will require a verification process to insure that you are indeed an authorized recipient for your college.

This is a big move in the development of transcript exchange networks. High schools, colleges and state governments that have been paying for document exchange networks- come on over, you’re welcome here and the price is right!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Looking Forward to Speaking with Presidents at the CNCTYC Conference

September 7, 2007- I am looking forward to following up my CNCTYC Summer Academy presentation in Santa Fe with the CNCTYC group at the Traverse City, Michigan conference next week. ConnectEdu and CNCTYC (Council of North Central Two-Year Colleges) have kicked off a national discussion regarding the deployment of a new service model for Transfer Student Advisement including the provision of course articulation information to students.

As the community college environment focuses on strengthening transfer advisement programs and developing effective course equivalency systems, ConnectEdu is proud to be a comprehensive partner with community colleges in addressing these needs. Each year, there are 6 million community college students that indicate they desire to complete undergraduate, four-year degrees, yet only 750,000 students move onto four-year institutions. There is a clear opportunity to positively impact the college access discussion by providing transfer advisors with better service models, scalable guidance platforms, comprehensive transfer preparation resources and effective course equivalency solutions. We are certainly looking forward to moving the discussion into action with our CNCTYC Partners.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Colleges Throughout the Midwest Join Connect! This Summer

September 5, 2007- While the rest of the country was away enjoying their summer vacation (myself included), the ConnectEdu College Partnerships Team was busy registering College Partners across the United States. In particular, it is the tremendous traction that the team has achieved throughout the Midwest that has captured my attention – perhaps it’s the Midwesterner in me! At any rate, the University of Iowa, University of Kansas, Kansas State University, Johnson County Community College (KS), Oakland University (MI), Lindenwood University (MO), and Henry Ford Community College (MI) have all joined the Connect! Network this summer.

From four-year to two-year colleges, large public universities to small private colleges, our partners in the Midwest are deploying Connect! and demonstrating the value of the Connect! Network- from electronic data exchange to improved student relationship development. Best of all, the going-to-college process for students throughout the Midwest is becoming a lot easier with Connect!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

High School Pipeline Bulging- More to Come!

August 30, 2007- The ConnectEdu high school pipeline is bulging with schools planning to deploy Connect! in conjunction with the back-to-school season. The account management and client services teams are working overtime to provide these high schools with the implementation and training support that they need to be successful this fall. The current pipeline of Connect! high schools will add an additional 141,028, college-bound, 9th-12th grade students to the current 500,000+ students engaged in the Connect! Network. And while the CDU account management and client services teams are busy getting these high schools implemented and trained, the ConnectEdu high school account executive team is busy signing up more high schools to deploy Connect!.

ConnectEdu’s account executive team has projected that an additional 187,688 college-bound, 9th-12th grade students will join the Connect! Network based on the current pipeline of high schools planning to register and deploy Connect!before Nov. 1st. Needless to say, it has been a busy summer and promises to be an even busier fall at ConnectEdu.

We couldn’t be having more fun … and it feels like it has just begun!

Several New Faces Join the ConnectEdu Team

August 30, 2007- ConnectEdu has added six new members to our team over the course of the past month. The new team members include Frank Vastola, Senior Vice President for Sales and Marketing, Sarah Franey, High School Account Executive, Ed Jedlicka, High School Account Manager, Matt Walsh, High School Account Executive, Ann Friedrich, College Partnerships Director, and Patrick Hughes, College Partnerships Director. We are excited to have the newest members of the ConnectEdu team on board and are looking forward to having them positively impact our growth and service to our partners.

These folks join ConnectEdu after having had successful careers as college admissions directors and/or high school college counselors. In fact, this marks the first time that two former Connect! users have joined the ConnectEdu team. Both Ed Jedlicka and Sarah Franey join ConnectEdu after having deployed Connect! into their schools as high school guidance counselors. Their understanding of the pressures facing high school college counselors and first hand knowledge of how Connect! can be used to assist counselors with their administrative burdens, allowing them to spend more time with students, will be invaluable to our current and future high school partners. Welcome to the new members of the team!

Friday, August 10, 2007

ConnectEdu Sends XML Transcript Files Into Banner SIS Platform

August 10, 2007- Right on schedule for this fall's admission season, ConnectEdu has successfully completed integrations with our newest college partners, including several using Oracle's Peoplesoft SIS and SunGard Higher Education's Banner SIS.

Banner is the latest SIS platform that the ConnectEdu technology team has integrated for our college partners. In addition to already receiving pdf transcripts and recommendation letters, these fully-integrated college partners are now receiving these documents as XML data into their SIS directly from high schools and community colleges. ConnectEdu and its progressive college partners are streamlining the process and setting the standard for paperless admissions.

Kudos to the ConnectEdu integration team and our College Partners using the SunGard Higher Education’s Banner SIS platform.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Folks Are Beginning To Take Notice

August 7, 2007- This weekend in the Detroit News, ConnectEdu’s partnership with the Detroit Public Schools was applauded for its role in strengthening the academic connections between high school students and higher education opportunities.

Tyrone Winfrey, Chair of the Detroit School Board’s Academic Achievement Committee, cited the progress of ConnectEdu in an article examining the candidates running for the Detroit School Board. Winfrey was quoted as saying:

“But incumbents like Tyrone Winfrey, 48, who works in the admissions office at the University of Michigan, said the district already is strengthening academics and his experience with the university and private schools will continue to be an asset. Winfrey, who chairs the board’s academic achievement committee, points to new DPS programs like ConnectEdu, where high school seniors can apply to more than 4,000 colleges and universities.”


Read the Detroit News article

Read more about our network in the Detroit area

Monday, July 16, 2007

Summer Anything But Quiet at ConnectEdu

July 16, 2007 - A month ago I was writing about my excitement due to the ConnectEdu team’s record number of high school implementations: over 100 new high schools in each month since March. Deploying Connect! to improve access to higher education is our primary goal here at ConnectEdu and our work continues. This July, we have more than doubled the number of Connect! users from a year ago and are continuing to build on our utilization figures. Each week more students are logging in to access Connect! than the week prior – that’s right these young people are taking advantage of the summer to get an edge up on their college planning. Good for them!

As we stop today and take a short breath, I’d like to congratulate the ConnectEdu Team for continuing to set the bar higher each month. The growth of the Connect! Network (a Quarter-Million Students!) is exciting as we work with counselors, admission officers and countless others to empower students as they take control of their futures.

Let’s keep it going… we’ve only just begun!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Recruitment 2.0- A New Era of Electronic Recruiting

July 11, 2007- This week, Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, became the first private university in the state to join the Connect! Network. For Missouri high school students using Connect!, this means direct access to our eleventh institution of higher education in the state. For ConnectEdu, the partnership represents a new frontier in Missouri.

Up until now, our college partners in Missouri have been large public universities seeking innovative technology to reduce application costs by exchanging electronic transcripts.

This benefit will never change and continues to drive the market.

But Lindenwood, like Clark University and a handful of other private colleges in the Connect! Network, has put value on another Connect! feature that is making noise and providing meaningful savings. They now have the ability to identify and meet prospective students from within the gated Connect! Network, a safe, online environment where colleges can develop relationships with students in a location dedicated to the "going to college" process.

We know from reports that private colleges spend on average 4 times more than public universities to recruit a single student and the cost is rising each year. Ask a high school junior or senior how they feel about all the glossy brochures and the bells and whistles that stuff their mailboxes every day. They're not impressed, and statistically 80% would prefer an electronic communication first. A generation that lives their life in new media has new expectations. Colleges that don't embrace Recruitment 2.0- the new era of electronic recruiting,­ will clearly find it difficult to keep up and will certainly suffer when it comes to building relationships with this generation.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

ConnectEdu Reaches Quarter-Million College-Bound Student Mark!

June 19, 2007- Word is spreading fast about Connect! and as a result, The Connect! Network of college-bound students is growing by leaps and bounds. In just one year, the number of college-bound students using Connect! to manage their college preparation, search, application and financial aid process has grown from 15,000 to 250,000 students. From rural towns in Maine, to urban districts in Michigan, to metropolitan communities in California, students are engaged and using Connect! to plan their college path.

In fact, over the past month the average Connect! student has been visiting Connect! twice per week and spending over 20 min. per visit. Many of these visitors are juniors (rising seniors) that are busy determining their college lists, planning campus visits and finalizing summer activities. With Connect!, these students will be able to utilize the platform each of the subsequent stages in their college application, financial aid, decision making and matriculation process.

And, with over 300 more high schools scheduled to deploy Connect! to their juniors and seniors in the Fall, we expect many more students to begin getting Connect!-ed and making informed college choices.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

CDU Continues to Build Momentum with High Schools Nationwide

Implement- (v.) to put into action

June 12, 2007 - Recently we reached yet another momentous milestone at ConnectEdu as our implementation team achieved its third consecutive month of implementing a record number of high schools. In June alone, over 125 high schools implemented Connect! and entered into the Connect! Network. As we continue to grow and deploy Connect! to more and more high schools, we will continue to strive toward our goal of implementing and training them within 60 days of their decision to join the Connect! Network.

Congratulations to the ConnectEdu team for this achievement and … WELCOME to our newest high school members!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

A College Admissions Process Accessible to All

June 7, 2007-I continue to talk to people around the country involved in both the college planning and financial aid process about two major themes – the need to simplify the process so it is easier for families to understand both the steps involved and the opportunities, and the need to receive feedback during the process in a more timely manner.

Some things in life should be quick and easy!

As we continue to spread the Connect! Network nationwide, I want folks that are weary of the integration of new technology into the educational environment, both families and counselors, to understand that we are here to make the process easier and more accessible for all.

Recently, I discussed the need to simplify the college planning and financial aid process with KQ2 in my home state of Missouri.


Thursday, May 31, 2007

Connect! En Español

4 de junio de 2007 - Con frecuencia, al asistir a conferencias o encuentros nacionales, he tenido la oportunidad de conocer a consejeros provenientes de estados como Texas, California y Florida. He podido hablarles sobre Connect! y el modo en que puede ayudarles a abandonar la labor del papeleo y concentrarse en la consejería universitaria. Desde luego, cuando les digo que además es GRATIS, piensan que es algo demasiado bueno como para ser cierto.

También he oído una y otra vez que los consejeros de estas regiones necesitan un formato bilingüe para ayudar a las familias que hablan español. A través de Connect!, los estudiantes que están planeando su futuro, y que son los primeros en sus familias en asistir a la universidad, pueden obtener la información, los recursos y una mejor comprensión del proceso completo, desde la búsqueda de universidades hasta las solicitudes de asistencia financiera. Uno de los beneficios adicionales de Connect! es que invitamos a los padres a participar en el proceso, y para las familias que hablan español, tener acceso a instrucciones bilingües puede marcar una diferencia importante al pasar por dicho proceso.

Estos son los datos en los que se basa la solicitud de este nuevo recurso:

El 71% de la población hispana habla español en casa.

El 51% de la población hispana de los Estados Unidos prefiere visitar sitios Web en español.

El número de estudiantes hispanos que obtuvieron una licenciatura aumentó en un 105% la década pasada, y representa el grupo étnico de mayor crecimiento en la educación superior.

A medida que ConnectEdu sigue ampliando su presencia en los Estados Unidos, son recursos como éste los que nos ayudarán a llegar a más familias y continuar nuestra misión de asegurarnos de que cada estudiante tenga acceso a las herramientas adecuadas para “ir a la universidad”.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

ConnectEdu and Michigan- Only Case Study Presentation at Annual PESC Conference that Highlighted PESC XML Capability

April 25, 2007- I wanted to take a few minutes to congratulate both the ConnectEdu and University of Michigan development teams on their recent case study presentation at the Annual PESC Conference. From what I understand, the team did a fantastic job of walking everyone through the process by which Connect! is delivering EDI transcripts directly into Michigan’s Student Information System. With Connect!, we support both PESC XML, currently being utilized with Michigan State University, and EDI. The CDU/Michigan teams also explained the process by which ConnectEdu and the University of Michigan are automating the recalculation of applicant grade point averages and the matching of applicant data. This partnership is saving the University of Michigan nearly $20 per applicant in processing and data entry costs that simply do not exist anymore – POWERFUL!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Community Colleges Make Financial Sense

April 20, 2007- In a few days, I will be meeting with members of the Council of North Central Two Year Schools in Chicago to celebrate our recent partnership. I’ll also have the opportunity to explain how Connect! can help their community college as it’s done for our community college partners in Missouri. Paperless admissions, automated degree audits, online academic advising, career planning – there are countless features I was planning to highlight. Then I came across the following article and I knew exactly what I wanted to tell these potential partners.

http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/04/08/cutting_colleges_cost/

Echoed by the article, for a growing number of college-bound high school students, community colleges are the first choice on a path to earning a bachelor’s degree. It’s not because they need to improve their academic performance or because there’s a situation that requires them to stay close to home. The reason so many students are choosing this route is because it makes good financial sense. Students can save tens of thousands of dollars by completing their first two years at a community college. Undeniably, the 2+2 option will only continue to grow as tuition escalates.

Community colleges are a pipeline to a four year institution with limitless possibilities. Unfortunately, of the 6 million students starting at community colleges each year, only 750,000 (12.5%) actually move on to a four year college/university despite their original intentions. While transfer advisors are doing their best to meet and advise thousands of students, provide accurate transfer information, and process the application paperwork – hundreds of thousands of students are not taking the next step on their college path. They are simply falling through the cracks. In addition to helping students navigate the transfer process with confidence, Connect! is designed to give transfer advisors all the tools they need to help more students transfer to four-year schools. With a solution that simplifies the process, community colleges can start to fill the gap.

We’ve always made sure that Connect! provides the tools that allows students to map their education at an earlier age, especially with the option of a two-year school. With online articulation agreements, Connect! takes the guessing game out of academic advising so that transfer students can stay on track and make the right decisions that will lead them to a 4-year school. Automated degree audits show students how their courses will transfer at the colleges of their choice. There is now a transparency into the process that has traditionally been clouded by a lack of reliable information.

Community colleges are now able to provide automated online tools, not only to show students how much they’ll be saving in tuition, but exactly what they need to do to make it happen.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Families Didn’t Need Two Harvard Scholars To Tell Them FASFA was Difficult

April 18, 2007- During a cross-country flight this week I was catching up on my reading and came across article after article about the disarray of financial aid…on all sorts of levels. If you’ve been following the news, you know I was kept pretty busy for the entire flight!

One article that truly caught my attention was about “two Harvard scholars” who have suddenly determined that applying for financial is difficult. I laughed out loud when I read it. I am glad that these two individuals have voiced their opinion, but I am even more pleased with the hundreds of thousands of families that figured this out a while ago and actually did something about it by joining Connect!

Years ago, I figured it out when I was put to the task of filing a FASFA. That’s one of the reasons why I founded ConnectEdu. About eight years ago the federal government also figured it out and claimed they would do something, too. Like the hundreds of thousands of folks who are required to navigate the FAFSA, I’m still waiting.

Until the federal government simplifies the federal application for student aid, there’s Connect! We developed our own “Turbotax” for the financial aid process. By making the experience more consumer friendly: doing all of the math, determining what supplemental forms need to be completed, running an auditor to insure that mistakes haven’t been made, and filing forms for families in a seamless fashion, Connect! has won huge favor with our families.

Already this year, thousands of Connect! families connected with the FAFSA filing process, at last, and many of them did it in fraction of the time with far less confusion, aggravation and mistakes. Plus, now everything they need to renew their forms for next year is stored securely for next year’s refiling. It’s that easy.
Take a look...




Friday, April 6, 2007

Students Come First

April 6, 2007- This past month I was meeting with a group of college-bound students like I often do to discuss the evolution of the “going to college” process. The subject turned to “recruiting”. These students wanted to know how so many colleges and universities got access to their personal information to clog their email accounts and stuff their mailboxes. A junior named Corey was amazed that a small liberal arts college in California was trying to recruit her when she clearly knew, and had indicated to her counselor, that she wanted to attend one of the dozens of business schools in Boston. She was glad to find a viewbook from Bentley and Babson, which her counselor requested, but she said the number of brochures she tossed was a shame. I asked the group to think back to when they registered to take the SAT. I reminded them of all the personal information they gave the College Board at that time.

During the same focus group, Rick was a senior who used a web portal at one point during his application process- unfortunately, it wasn’t Connect! Now with his calculator, he’s evaluating his options and like several hundred thousand students like him, he is struggling with the cost gap between the tuition and his financial aid awards. Rick agreed with Corey about the viewbooks piling up in his trash can, but he warned her about what was coming next – the lenders. In addition to the “preferred lenders”, Rick said he was being bombarded by loan offers from people who he had never met. He wanted to know how they knew he needed money. I asked him to think back to when he registered for the retail web portal. I reminded him of all the personal information he provided to get online.

One of the many reason that I meet with young people in the “going to college” process is to figure out how we can make Connect! better for students. I’m learning our commitment to privacy and security (click here to view our Privacy Policy) is helping us become one of the most preferred web portals available, but it appears that privacy isn’t a priority for everyone. This week, Attorney General Cuomo announced that several colleges/universities had agreed to sign his Code of Conduct that focused on removing any deceptive practices relative to student lender/college practices. At the same time, a jury awarded a settlement of $4.5M to CollegeNet as a result of Xap’s violations of the Lanham Act. Ironically the Xap settlement was focused on this retail web portal’s deceptive practices relative to selling personal student information to student loan companies. (Click here for a summary of the judgement.)

As several State Departments and State Student Loan Authorities endorse many of the XAP Powered Mentor sites, there seems to be a disconnect between helping students transition into college and actually doing what’s best for students. Fortunately, at ConnectEdu we’ve made that connection from the start. I’m excited about the possibility of introducing Connect! to more colleges as these governments that implemented mentor sites start looking for a more viable, student-friendly solution. As we continue to expand Connect! across states like Maryland and Virginia, our most recent additions, we’ll continue to help students in the “going to college” process with best practices that put students first.

It Was Great to Be Back Home

April 6, 2007- My recent trip to Missouri and my hometown of Maryville provided me with a chance to enjoy some time with family (albeit brief). While in my home state, I had the opportunity to talk to folks in St. Joseph, both at KQ2-TV and at the St. Joseph News-Press, about the great things that are happening as more high schools in Northwest Missouri join the Connect! Network each week. In fact, Missouri high schools this spring have connected at an average of 10 schools per week. We now have nearly 100 high schools and expect to close the school year with over 200 high schools participating throughout the state.

For the first time, high school students in the state are connected to institutions of higher education across Missouri via a secure, online network to communicate, exchange data and simplify the entire “going to college” process. The momentum at high schools in Missouri that we’ve achieved in less than a year far surpasses the utilization of the state-mandated solutions in North Carolina and Indiana, for example, that have been implemented for much longer periods. Kudos to our ConnectEdu team in Missouri!

Click here to read the article from the St. Joseph News-Press.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Old Dominion and Towson Join the Connect! Network

April 5, 2007- It’s been a great start to the month as we announced our partnerships with Old Dominion University, our first university in Virginia, and Towson University, our first university in Maryland. With their leadership and forward-thinking approach, we’re thrilled about building a regional “going to college” network free to all high schools in Virginia and Maryland, as well as welcoming these universities and high schools into our national network. Click here to read the releases.

As Old Dominion and Towson create a paperless admissions office by choosing Connect!, we’re looking forward to introducing Connect! to their feeder high schools. ConnectEdu’s current models are demonstrating that over 30% of their feeder high schools will adopt Connect! within 12 months and that within 34 months over 85% of their feeder high schools will be participating. In partnership with engaged colleges and universities, ConnectEdu has demonstrated an ability to bring high schools into the Connect! network at an unprecedented rate.

Perhaps of greatest value is that these high schools and colleges have been given the option to choose to participate in the Connect! network on their own timeline. This approach also avoids state-wide mandates which have demonstrated that they do not work and struggle to drive high school adoption.

Our philosophy at ConnectEdu is that a quality solution, great customer service and engaged college partners will cause high schools to adopt a college planning solution much quicker than state-wide mandates and restrictive solution contracts.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Some Really Passionate Folks...and "yes" it's FREE

March 26, 2007- I initially debated a few different titles for this entry- "It's All About the Relationships," and "Kudos for Katie" both of which seemed very appropriate. Ultimately, I settled on "Some Really Passionate Folks... and 'yes' it's FREE", but more on this after you've had the opportunity to read the email below that was forwarded to me by Chad Schaedler, our Senior Regional Director for New England.


From: Regan, Barbara
Sent: Friday, March 23, 2007 2:24 PM
To: Chad Schaedler
Subject:

Hello Mr. Schaedler: I wanted to take the opportunity to compliment one of your employees. I received an email from Katie Jordan about ConnectEdu, and through emails and phone conversations I determined that I wanted to find out more about this program. Katie answered every question I had and was very patient with my comments of "Are you sure this is free?" about every minute. She came to our school to do a presentation about the program, and we were very impressed with her. She did an informative presentation and was again very patient with our questions and comments. I have to say that she truly was the determining factor in our decision to join the ConnectEdu family!

Bet Regan/Guidance Counselor/Hull High School


Katie’s commitment to Barbara and the ConnectEdu mission are symbolic of the type of organization that we are focused on building at ConnectEdu. Our team is committed to developing deep, supportive relationships with our partner high schools, community colleges and colleges. In addition, we are passionate about reaching as many counselors as we can to deploy our solution so that in turn they can spend more time practicing the art of counseling.

On some occasions our emails and phone calls may be interpreted as “pestering” or “pushy.” But please remember, our folks are so darn persistent because they care about helping counselors assist more students with the "going-to-college process".

Congratulations Katie! And welcome Barbara and Hull High School to the Connect! Network™ and ConnectEdu family.

Friday, March 23, 2007

More Good News out of Missouri

March 23, 2007- As I make my travel arrangements for a trip home to Missouri, I'm reminded of how my home state has quickly become a model for the Connect! network. While we're building amazing partnerships in dozens of other states, the synergy in Missouri between high schools, community colleges and universities is phenomenal. I am not the only one proud of what's happening in the Show-Me State; the media is taking note as well. The most recent article is a celebration of Connect!, printed in a college partner's newspaper. Northwest Missouri State University is currently welcoming dozens of high schools in their region to the Connect! platform and is eagerly anticipating the paperless admissions office they'll create during their upcoming admissions cycle.

Click here to read the full article.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Over 3000 High Schools Now Have the Ability to Connect!

March 19, 2007- This morning we announced our latest data integration project with Rediker Software, Inc., one of the nation’s leading providers of high school student information systems with 3,200 schools across the country using their software. Besides the added simplicity of data export for ConnectEdu high schools who use Rediker, the real story lies in the genesis of our relationship with Rediker.

During one of our ConnectEdu account management meetings, it became evident that many of our high schools were using Rediker products. On top of that, the level of technological experience at each school varied dramatically. Some counselors had no problems exporting data, some needed a quick tutorial each time, and some just weren’t familiar with the process at all. But they all had one thing in common: they were using the same SIS platform.

Some of our progressive high school partners, like Nancy Stella from Middletown High School in CT and John Bennett from Harwich High School in MA, had a great idea. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a standardized export from Rediker? They consulted with the ConnectEdu account managers about making it happen.

Jeff Alderson, our Director of Strategic Partnerships, and our team quickly took to task on the project and the rest is history. Now any high school that uses Rediker as their SIS provider will be able to export data into Connect! right from their SIS.

This is just a small example of how ConnectEdu values our relationships with high schools and values their feedback. As partners in the “going-to-college” process, we actively look to solve the obstacles that get in the way for counselors and students. Furthermore, since our business model is dependent upon students successfully moving from high school to college, these obstacles are our problem, too.

We’re excited to be partnered with such a quality organization as Rediker and look forward to expanding SIS partnerships. These partnerships enhance our ability to make a difference for students and counselors engaged in the “going-to-college” process.

Let us know about your SIS provider and how we can make the process easier for you. Email us at: info@connectedu.net

Reflections From a Week in the Midwest

March 19, 2007 - I was fortunate to spend time a few weeks back traveling through my favorite part of the United States- yes, the Midwest (perhaps I am biased having grown up there). And while snowstorms and the resulting flight schedules out of O'Hare were less than ideal, I enjoyed meeting with various colleges, community colleges, high schools, and state agencies regarding the issues that face them and the "going-to-college" pipeline.

During the week, many of my discussions focused on the usual questions- "Is it true that you can deliver True Electronic Transcripts™ directly into our SIS?" ..."Is Connect! really free to us and you'll provide training?" We spent time answering these and other questions regarding the "going-to-college" process and did I mention I love this stuff? Honestly, these conversations were a lot of fun. But perhaps the best discussion I had all week was with two young men while I was in Topeka, Kansas.

After a very long day driving from Iowa City to Topeka in an awful snow storm, I was looking forward to dinner with my colleague, Jonathan Fernands. What I hadn't anticipated was the conversation that would transpire with two of the young men working at the restaurant in Topeka.

As my colleague and I engaged our waiters in conversation, we learned that both of them were products of the Kansas Public High School system. One of them, (I'll call him John) had graduated from high school, went onto Kansas State University and was currently enrolled in law school at Washburn University. John was a hoot!

The other young man (I'll call him Dave), had attended college for one year and then had dropped out. Both John and Dave were very engaging and intelligent. We chatted about Kansas basketball, Kansas politics, methamphetamine problems in the Midwest, the Washburn University mascot- the Ichabods, Midwest wrestling (John had wrestled in high school and passed on an opportunity to wrestle in college), and we discussed education. Specifically, the life paths that each of them had followed and the critical decisions points along the way. It's worth noting that John and Dave had a lot in common. Both were from relatively successful households, both had been married early on in life, both had kids, and both valued education. Most importantly, both felt that the educational process had not worked for them. They felt they had wasted time and money pursuing degrees that were not for them. They had completed career placement surveys that weren't helpful and served more to confuse them than to assist them, and they both struggled with what they would do in the coming years. Ironically, John was the most fervent in his frustration with the process. He in particular, was not sure that law school was for him. Both felt that their high school counselors and college advisors were overwhelmed- interesting.

My discussion with John and Dave served as a validation of the issues that I have come to routinely hear about from students that are engaged in the "going-to-college" process. We know that counselors are overwhelmed, forced to spend too much time on administrative tasks as opposed to spending time building relationships and guiding students. We know that there are more young people, similar to John and Dave, experiencing the same obstacles throughout the country.

As I woke up the next morning to prepare for my presentation on our electronic transcript solution to the Kansas Board of Regents, one thing became really clear to me. Exchanging transcripts electronically is only part of the solution that John, Dave, and other students, parents, counselors, community colleges, and colleges/universities require - a small part! We must pursue the movement of electronic documents with an eye for the "big picture". Our counselors need solutions that free them from administrative tasks so that they are able to spend more time engaging their students. We need a solution that helps to demystify the topic that students and families often dread the most - financial aid. And we must avoid limiting, single-point solutions that do not account for the multiple elements involved with the "going-to-college" process. We need a comprehensive solution, not another temporary band-aid.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Connect! Launched at Springfield Area High Schools

March 14, 2007- In addition to the national going-to-college network that ConnectEdu is building, the regional connection between high schools, community colleges and colleges is shining in the spotlight. On March 13, ConnectEdu joined our College Partners Missouri State University and Ozarks Technical Community College to welcome Springfield area high schools into the Connect! network at no charge. KOLR, the CBS affiliate captured the activity on the evening news as Connect! was presented to dozens of high school guidance counselors.
This network in Springfield is quickly becoming the model for regions across the country as Connect! becomes the preferred web solution for college planning in Michigan, Connecticut and New Jersey to name a few.


Click here to view video

Monday, March 12, 2007

Extra Extra, Read All About It!

March 12, 2007 - Check out the latest issue of the Greentree Gazette. This nationally distributed higher education magazine featured us in their technology section this month. Highlighting the partnerships we've established with colleges and high schools throughout Michigan, the article recommends Connect! to help build a paperless admissions office. We're thrilled that our work in the state of Michigan is being recognized nationally and look forward to garnering more media attention as we help colleges and universities simplify the "going to college" process.

Click here to read the article.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Sometimes They Just Say It Better – “A Story From The Road”

Mary O’Malley (ConnectEdu Account Manager, Missouri)

March 9, 2007- There’s nothing better than coming into the office in the morning, popping on my computer and reading about our folks, in concert with an engaged college counselor making a difference. These “stories from the road” not only warm my heart, but they also serve as reminders as to why single-point solutions are limited and simply do not work in the education marketplace.

E-mail Transcript (3.8.07 – 9:38AM) from Mary O’Malley – Account Manager, Missouri – to CDU team members:

Hi all,

Yesterday, I was able to see Connect! up front, live and making a difference in the life of a junior at Adair R II High School in Brashear, MO. It was absolutely amazing. I had a wonderful, wonderful workshop with the junior class. Since students may not have internet at home, we spent some time letting them do the interview during training. One student, who has had his heart set on UMKC, immediately pulled up the profile from his matches after the interview and was stunned. He had never thought that there were requirements for admission and quickly realized his foreign language wasn’t up to snuff (1.5 years instead of 2 or 3) for admission to UMKC. He was able to pull his counselor over to his computer, have a quick talk about it, and, by the time we were done training, he was mapping out a plan so he could take a language class to prepare for admission to UMKC.

It was wonderful. Thanks for letting me be a part of this.

Mary


Aside from the emotional high this email brings, Mary’s story also stresses the need for a "big picture" college planning solution - not a limited, one-sided offering found in transcript delivery tools or isolated college search engines.

In this situation, the student would definitely have benefited from having Connect! much earlier in his college planning. Despite the detour, because of Connect! he still has time to make the necessary changes to reach his goal of attending UMKC.

It's amazing to me that although he set his goal years ago, he had no path to follow to get him there. There was no comprehensive college planning solution available to him...until Connect! Now, with plentiful resources and concise information, his counselor was able to point him in the right direction and will now help empower the next generation of college-bound students.

But what if his introduction to Connect! never happened?

I'm sure he would have searched for UMKC's deadlines and online application on one of the many website out there. I'm sure his transcript would have been delivered securely like so many solutions say they do. But I'm also sure he would have received a denial letter. I'm sure his dreams would have been shattered. I'm sure he would have fallen through the cracks. That's why my team built Connect! - to make sure no one falls through the cracks...ever. We hope you'll join us if you feel the same way.

Mary, nice work… keep it up…and, thank you for caring and sharing!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

A Powerful Statement About A Problem That Can No Longer Be Ignored




March 8, 2007 - The ConnectEdu Team did a fantastic job of illustrating the paper processing issues that face college admissions officers, high school guidance counselors and students this past week at the AACRAO conference, held here in Boston. By stacking 123,000 pieces of paper in the ConnectEdu booth, admissions officers couldn’t help but take notice. And it’s not surprising that Tom De Santes and Mike O’Connor (the CDU team members responsible for the booth design) came up with such a dramatic representation of the problem. Prior to joining ConnectEdu, De Santes worked as a Vice President of Enrollment Management and O’Connor as a Director of Admissions. Their only regret was that they were only able to stack 123,000 pieces of paper, which pales in comparsion to the actual paper they received at their institutions. In fact, many of ConnectEdu’s college partners receive closer to 600,000 pieces of paper each admissions cycle that must then be processed … and often times copies are made of this inbound paper which further exacerbates the problem.

The 123,000 pieces of paper that ConnectEdu stacked into the exhibit hall served as a small, but very visible reminder of the problems that face all involved with the college admissions process.

Here are just a few:

1) The laborious processing task and costs involved with college admissions
2) The data re-entry errors that are prevalent in most college admissions offices as GPAs are retyped and recalculated manually
3) The lost data error rates (see below from AACRAO booth - illustrated at a 1% error rate with the color paper on the desk … most of CDU’s studies point to a
10 – 13% error rate in many college admission offices)



4) The data security risk of student records that are processed in a paper environment and stored in non-SAS Level III certified environments
5) The lengthy time it takes (up to 90 days) to process a college application – in this day and age, million dollar home loans are processed in hours
6) The barrier that the paper creates in the relationship between students and their admissions officers. There needs to be more time and money invested in developing relationships and less time processing paper
7) The burden that our college admission process puts on our environment – literally, the trees that are victim to this paper process

It is time for college admissions to come out of the dark ages and move into a truly electronic (not a PDF, paper) process. ConnectEdu stands ready to make this happen for more college partners just as we have for the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of Connecticut and several other leaders within the enrollment management industry.

It’s Electric – A Great Article on Electronic Transcripts … And the Differences Between ConnectEdu and Xap Are Significant

March 7, 2007 -Ann McClure of University Business published a timely article on the 5th outlining the electronic transcript movement that is sweeping throughout high schools, community colleges and colleges. If you had a chance to walk the exhibit floor at AACRAO, I’m sure you noticed the electronic transcript theme. Click here to read the article and you’ll see that McClure nicely summarizes an overview of the electronic transcript movement and the two leading solution providers – Xap and ConnectEdu.

McClure also clearly defines the differences between scanning and scraping technology versus actual receipt of electronic documents, something that distinguishes us from the rest. It’s worth noting that ConnectEdu integrates with both imaging systems as well as dropping data directly into Student Information Systems. In fact, through our partnership with the University of Michigan we are actually delivering transcripts into both their ImageNow platform as well as their PeopleSoft platform. Not only are we “capable” of doing it like you hear from competitors, we are doing it today...with great results. Ted Spencer, Associate Vice Provost & Executive Director of Undergraduate Admissions at the University of Michigan, during a University Business Virtual Roundtable this past January said,

"We're particularly excited about a new partnership with ConnectEdu that will allow us to receive electronic transcripts and letters of recommendation that will go directly into our student information system not PDFs that go into our imaging system. We think this is the direction admissions will go in the future as we transition from a paper-based process to an image and data process, to strictly a data process over the next five to 10 years. There is so much you can do to manage your admissions process better and to analyze retention when you have data in your student information system."


With the data captured in electronic format, we can translate the information into multiple formats (.PDF, XML, EDI, etc.). It’s electric!

As the electronic transcript debate heats up, you’ll be reading about the differences between Xap and ConnectEdu. Just ask our national flagship universities why they partner with us, even after they’ve invested in Xap mentor systems. If you’re interested in helping students make the best choices without limits, we welcome the opportunity to demonstrate our solution and show you the results.

What Happens In Vegas Stays in Vegas... I Hope Not!

March 7, 2007- A few weeks back I had the opportunity to participate in the National Association of Secondary School Principals Conference out at the Las Vegas Convention Center. With over 2,500 high school principals from all parts of the country gathered to discuss the prevalent issues facing them, I hope that their challenges and strategies for addressing those challenges do not as they say “stay in Vegas”.

Several things came to light at the NASSP Conference including:

College planning and matriculation are becoming a community concern in many school districts.

Principals are increasingly focused on the need to track and measure student retention and success.

It is clear that the technology available to high schools is not matched with the training and support tools needed for our teachers.


First off, the lack of support in the “going to college” process is not a Midwest, an East Coast, or a Mid-Atlantic concern – it is a national concern. As we continually heard at the NASSP Conference, our high school principals are looking for a solution that offers both user-friendly technology and, more importantly, the personal guidance necessary to work with students, parents and counselors as they navigate the college admissions process - a process that presents too many barriers, detours and roadblocks. At ConnectEdu, we understand that the technology behind our web solution is only part of the answer to the issues these principals face. Our dedicated team, many former counselors and education administrators themselves are working with high schools on a daily basis to help tackle the issues discussed in Las Vegas. As each principal we met took the next step to implement Connect! at their high school, it was obvious why they embraced our solution. They want to simplify the process for everyone involved, reduce the administrative burden, and help their guidance counselors return to the art of counseling.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Come Join Us! We're Hiring!

March 6, 2007 - These are exciting times at ConnectEdu. If you haven't noticed our ads on a variety of job boards including Chronicle, allow me to break the secret - WE'RE HIRING! We are looking for mission-driven folks that are passionate about the "going-to-college" process and like to work in a fast paced environment. We routinely look to hire experts from the software and technology industries, client services industries as well as folks that have spent time as Admissions Directors, VP's of Enrollment Management, or College Counselors. We have available positions located in our corporate office in Boston and across the nation.

Click here to view the available positions.

We look forward to meeting you!

Monday, February 26, 2007

ConnectEdu Welcomes AACRAO to Boston

February 26, 2007 - We are excited to be hosting a number of our clients and potential clients in Boston for the Annual AACRAO conference this week. This year's conference will certainly provide an exciting venue for the exchange of new ideas and generate discussion on emerging trends. We are looking forward to participating in several discussions surrounding our ability to deliver XML transcripts, letters of recommendation, essays and financial aid documents to the SIS platforms of colleges and universities.

If you are planning to attend AACRAO, and would like to participate in any of our exciting events including the CDU Late Night at Excelsior or the drawing to win a Red Sox Trip later this year, stop by booth #609 for more information.

To RSVP for the CDU Late Night, contact Daryl Slater at dslater@connectedu.net.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Show-Me State Shows the Way

ConnectEdu's True Electronic Transcripts™ and Direct Data Partnerships Will Save Missouri Colleges Millions in Unnecessary Processing Costs

February 21, 2007 - I couldn't be prouder of my home state of Missouri and our progressive partners that are focused on improving the "going-to- college" process for students, counselors, parents and admissions officers. Earlier today, we announced a data integration with SIS K-12 and STI-K12 to seamlessly integrate Connect! for our collective partner high schools. (Click to read release) SIS K-12 and STI-K12 account for 80% of the high schools in Missouri, representing over 580 high schools that will be able to move data into Connect! with the click of a button. Once fully deployed throughout the state, this seamless integration of high school SIS systems and Connect!’s industry leading position as THE ONLY XML transcript delivery platform available to colleges will result in cost savings of $10.9M to Missouri colleges and universities.

Our ability to deliver transcripts seamlessly and effortlessly from high school student information systems directly into college partner information systems will improve and expedite the college admissions process for Missouri students and admissions officers. In addition, Connect!’s ability to automate the recalculation of GPA’s, transcript receipt notifications and the delivery of actual data points into college SIS platforms will save our College Partners $14-$25 per transcript. (See our College Partner white paper to understand the analysis that supports this cost savings.)

Now using our data integration with SIS K-12 and STI-K12, high schools will be able to deploy Connect! with no set-up time and update student records at the push of a button. Life just got that much easier for Connect! high schools in Missouri. This year, students in Missouri will apply to an average of 8 colleges and send their transcripts to these colleges 3-4 times on average costing the colleges between $14-$25 (per transcript) in processing expenses. Based on our current implementations, Missouri colleges and universities will save $4.5 million dollars, which is by all means a conservative estimate. With Connect!'s data network, the burden of unnecessary transcript processing expenses has been eliminated.

These are exciting times for students, counselors and college partners in Missouri!

Monday, February 19, 2007

A Great Week for Standards- We Couldn't Be More Excited!

February 19, 2007-This past week was a great week for the standardization of K-12 and post-secondary data systems. The announced agreement between the Post Secondary Education Standards Council (PESC) and the Schools Interoperability Framework Association (SIFA) to generate standards and specifications to enable interoperability among education software solutions should dramatically advance the movement of seamless data exchange from high schools to community colleges and colleges. ConnectEdu applauds this initiative on behalf of students. We are committed to working with high schools that utilize the SIF standard.

Today, ConnectEdu is seamlessly extracting data from numerous high school SIS platforms and translating data into the PESC standard for delivery to post-secondary institutions. As SIFA gains traction amongst high schools, it will provide our partner high schools a more streamlined integration with the Connect! platform relative to the way in which we currently extract/exchange data with high schools.

In fact, we are actively soliciting partner high schools that would like to develop a secure data exchange process using our Connect! platform and the SIF standard. In the meantime, we’ll continue to securely extract and share data with our high school partners in the formats that they desire. We’ll keep you posted as our partners join us in this standards movement.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Sometimes They Just Say It Better...High School and College Partners Speak Out

February 6, 2007- In the midst of announcing our exciting partnership with the Council of North Central Two-Year Colleges (CNCTYC), a local NBC affiliate in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan was running a story on our high school and college partners in the region. As I've come to understand, once again our high school and college partner's best described the benefits that Connect! provides to both them and their students.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Community Colleges Are The Critical Link to the Access Pipeline

January 31, 2007- In the Spring of 2003 I received a phone call from Ty Patterson, Vice-President of Student Services at Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield, MO. In that phone call Ty challenged me that if ConnectEdu was going to be a company focused on improving college access, then it would have to become very focused on supporting community colleges and community college students. Admittedly I was initially surprised … what was he talking about?

Since that phone call I have spent time personally understanding the issues facing community college students in addition to developing a team at ConnectEdu to focus solely on community colleges. Ty Patterson could not have been more right! Just think, each year approximately 6 million students enroll in community colleges with the goal of eventually completing an undergraduate degree. However, each year only about 750K students move from community colleges into four-year institutions to complete an undergraduate degree. And here is some irony for you; the 750K students that do successfully transfer from their CC into a four-year college tend to out-perform (i.e. graduate on time) by comparison to their traditional high school-to-college counterparts.

Until now, transfer students had to work within high school-specific solutions. Transfer advisors had no management tools to benchmark and track their student’s performance. Plus, transfer advisor-to-student ratios makes the high school counselor-to-student ratio look like a piece of cake. On top of that, I am constantly reminded of the communication gap between community colleges and 4-year institutions around degree audits and/ or articulation agreements. Connect! is the only comprehensive college planning solution that has a module dedicated to these specific needs of community college students.

In fact, the most progressive solutions – Connect! notwithstanding - in the marketplace require student’s go to a website, input all of the classes they’ve taken, and wait for a report that indicates which courses will transfer at a limited number of four-year schools. Assuming they’ve keyed their transcript information accurately, it still may be too late if they’ve already completed the wrong courses over the past four or more semesters. Transfer students want to know, before they begin enrolling, which courses will transfer to a variety of four-year institutions; not just the one closest to their community college. Students want to be informed, they want access and they want choice. And Connect! gives them the tools.

Today, ConnectEdu and the Council of North Central Two-Year Colleges have partnered to provide community college students, transfer advisors, transfer admission officers and receiving institution registrars with a comprehensive solution to this very important and comprehensive problem. The goal of the CDU/ CNCTYC partnership is to leverage the model that ConnectEdu has deployed in partnership with the high schools, community colleges and colleges in Missouri. The CDU / CNCTYC will expand the Connect! community college network across 19 states. We hope this will be the start of a national movement to meet the needs of community college students!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

If You Can’t Automate GPA Recalculation – It’s Not Electronic

January 16, 2007-What is a “True” Electronic Transcript?

Seems like everywhere you look these days, people are talking about delivering electronic transcripts. It’s true, “true” electronic transcripts save time and money. They create paperless offices, streamline tasks such as GPA recalculation and applicant materials matching. And they make the admissions process more efficient for all involved - especially students and parents. Of course, it’s only true if we’re talking about the same “electronic transcript.”

Our marketplace tends to confuse the definition of an “electronic transcript.” If you have to print out the .pdf attachment, it’s not electronic. If you have to scan or image the .pdf, it's not electronic. If you can't import data to automate GPA recalculations, it's not electronic. Without knowing the facts, it’s easy to fall for a delivery system that really doesn’t solve the problem. Don’t allow yourself to be confused.

Ted Spencer from the University of Michigan, one of our college partners, summed it up best in this month’s University Business when he defined the “true” electronic transcript we deliver through Connect! -
"We're particularly excited about a new partnership with ConnectEdu that will allow us to receive electronic transcripts and letters of recommendations that will go directly into our student information system, not .pdfs that go into our imaging system. We think this is the direction admissions will go in the future as we transition from a paper-based process, to an image and data process, to strictly a data process over the next five to 10 years. There is so much you can do to manage your admissions process better and to analyze retention when you have data in your student information system."
Click here for the full story

For the hundreds of thousands of Connect! users, ours is a “true” electronic transcript and the first step toward a faster, more secure admissions process.