Wednesday, February 27, 2008

55 Schools Join the Connect National Network™ in January

February 27, 2008- Since the gates have dropped, we have been off to a fast and furious start welcoming 12 colleges and 43 high schools to the Connect National Network™ this past January. The network continued to spread throughout New England as the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, Daniel Webster College, and Mass Bay Community College joined ten new high schools that have connected in the New England region. In the Midwest, two new Wisconsin colleges- Carroll College and Mid-State Technical College joined thirty-one new high schools in the network. Again, we welcome the new colleges and high schools to the Connect! Community. Great job to all involved!

Below is the complete list of the new colleges that joined the network in January.

Atlantic Union College (MA)
Carroll College (WI)
Centenary College (NJ)
Cooper Union (NY)
Daniel Webster College (NH)
Felician College (NJ)
Goodwin College (CT)
Mass Bay Community College (MA)
Mid-State Technical College (WI)
Regis College (MA)
St. Michael’s College (VT)
University of Massachusetts, Lowell (MA)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Access to Higher Education (Even During Tough Economic Times)

February 25, 2008- News out of the recent National School Boards Association annual legislative conference in Washington D.C. regarding next year’s school budgets is grim at best. As reported in eSchool News online, “about half of the 50 states are facing projected budget shortfalls” and as often times is the case technology and extracurricular activities are both going to be on the chopping block in many states including California and Nevada. As we all know, budget cuts are not new to our nation’s high schools, but this year cuts appear more ominous in light of the current economic issues facing many states.

Connect! was developed as a NO COST tool for several reasons- not the least of which would be to prevent local school boards from having to play “Edward Scissorhands” with their college and career planning resources. The primary reason that we provide the nation’s most comprehensive technology solution at NO COST is because we believe it is the right thing to do (see mission below)- regardless of a state or a school’s budget or whether or not the economy is prosperous at the time. In addition, in order to develop a sustainable network of high schools and colleges that exchange transcripts and documents electronically, the solution can not be dependent upon shrinking state budget dollars or struggling state student loan authorities. Students and their futures can not be dependent upon the changing winds of budget downturns … a sustainable solution, that is resistant to economic changes is a must!

When the dust settles and the cuts have been made, seeing what is no longer available to high school students is not what scares me, rather it is knowing that we all had a part in playing “Edward Scissorhands” with the future of these young people’s lives because we weren’t imaginative enough to pursue a sustainable plan… sad!

ConnectEdu’s mission is to democratize access to higher education and career opportunities for all students by empowering them and their advisors with the information, resources and collective bargaining power required to realize successful life-transitions.


Check out the complete story in eSchool News

Thursday, February 21, 2008

ConnectEdu in San Antonio This Weekend

February 20, 2008- As this week marks the 92nd Annual National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) Conference to be held in San Antonio this year, I paused for a moment to reflect on where we were a year ago this week as we prepared for NASSP in Las Vegas. For those that know me, the pause was literally 2-3 seconds.

Last year at NASSP, we introduced ourselves to many new high school principals from around the country. For some it was the first contact with ConnectEdu and Connect!. This time last year we were partnered with a few hundred high schools and were present in a handful of states. Over the course of this past year, the Connect National Network™ grew to over 500,000 counselors, students, and parents in over 1,000 high schools nationwide. Our network has expanded to new regions including California, Arkansas, Florida and Kentucky and has continued to grow in regions such as Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Connecticut and New Jersey.

It is appropriate that the NASSP Conference theme this year is, “Build the Team – Lead the Charge”. Over the last year we have done just this as we continue to build “our team” of dedicated high school and college partners who have begun to lead their own “charge” as they work with us to streamline the college admissions process and fundamentally change the way student’s transition to higher education and careers in this country.

This year at NASSP, some things will have stayed the same- namely, the needs of high school principals. Principals are still in search of a cost-effective, comprehensive, user-friendly solution that will allow them to create a “going-to-college culture” amongst their parents, students, teachers and guidance staff.

For those of you attending, you can visit ConnectEdu at BOOTH #648.

NASSP 2008- San Antonio

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Admissions Folks Continue to Feel the Pain of a Paper-Based System

February 12, 2008 - At first glance they appear to be stories of improvement, of fierce competition and drive, of the electronic age of admissions. Then as you begin to peel off the skin, you realize that these are in fact stories of missed opportunities, wasted resources and an industry that desperately needs to evolve in a hurry. The stories I refer to here are the numerous articles that have been written over the last few weeks and years in fact, detailing college admissions offices being flooded with applications. From the University of Texas that enrolls nearly 40,000 undergraduates each year to Rhode Island College which just surpassed the 2,000 application mark, colleges throughout the country are seeing an increase in the number of applications that come across their desk. An increase in applications, transcripts and letters of recommendation- bottom line: an increase in workload and an increase in paper.

With the increase in applications, admissions and enrollment teams are being stretched beyond their limit as students are applying to more schools, sending more transcripts, generating larger piles of paper than ever before. The impact this is having on institutional inefficiency and the environment are mind boggling to say the least. Although small steps have been made with the online application, hundreds of thousands of pieces of paper are wasted in the form of transcripts and letters of recommendation. As Susan Peterson points out in the Daily Texan online (UT Admissions Office Sorts Final Applications, 2/1/08), the University of Texas “processes about 24,000 pieces of mail every admissions season”. That is just one school during one admissions cycle!

Can you imagine if these admissions folks were receiving transcripts sent in directly to their SIS system from the high school SIS system? Can you imagine if so much time and energy was not wasted relying on a paper-based system and more time was devoted to matching students with the right college – a college that they will succeed at?

From data re-entry, to security, to cost and environmental issues, the higher education industry needs to fast track this problem. Data security and privacy issues abound; the photo of folders stacked up with sensitive student information inside on top of an unsecured desk says it all.

Check out this article from the Providence Business News

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Marching To The Same Beat

February 7, 2008- I was recently forwarded a fantastic online resource that has been published by the great folks at GEAR UP and is a result of the Principal’s Call-In Session from last October’s New England Gear Up Conference.

The online book entitled, 100 College Going Strategies: New England Principals Lead The Way excited me for several reasons. As I read through the pages of strategies proposed by this group of progressive principals, I couldn’t help but notice that the underlying themes of this book point to our core values here at ConnectEdu. As I have outlined below, there is a clear synergy between what the GEAR UP organization and progressive principals are looking for to improve their “going to college” curriculum and the endless opportunities provided through Connect!

RELATIONSHIPS

Build relationships with young people as early as middle school. Through the development of these relationships, expose students to the “concept” of college and possible careers. More importantly, gather feedback from young people about their college planning needs and goals.

Build relationships with parents by introducing them to Connect! and educating them on the many ways in which the technology can make college planning and financing less complicated.

Build relationships with employers so that students are exposed to actual career opportunities earlier on in their journey.

INNOVATION

Utilize technology to streamline the “going to college” process for students and their families.

Create a comprehensive solution that incorporates all aspects of college planning in one secure, online location to make life easier for students and parents. As Jeanne Tucker, Principal at Mt. Abram High School in Maine, advocates: “Utilize ConnectEdu to provide students, guidance and families one place to track, plan, and apply for college.”

Put the feedback from young people, parents, and counselors into action as we continually enhance and at often times create new features within Connect!

RESULTS

Create a cultural change for many young people by broadening their view of what is possible relative to college and career goals. Derek Pierce, Principal at Casco Bay HS in Maine, very appropriately calls for the creation of a “college ready” culture.

A new “going to college to career” process for young people in New England and throughout the country that provides greater access to higher education.
Collaborative communication between students, parents, and counselors and ultimately more college bound students.

It is great to see this synergy and to know that Connect! is a part of the strategy that these New England principals are advocating.
Check out the online book.