Inside Higher Ed

Sample Questions, More Details on the Redesigned 2016 SAT

The College Board today released some 250 pages of specifications for the redesigned 2016 SAT, including sample questions. According to Cyndie Schmeiser, chief of assessment for the College Board, today's information includes "everything a student needs to know to walk into that test and not be surprised." However, the College Board announcement stressed that all the information about the redesigned test is in draft form, "not a full reflection of what will be tested," and subject to change.

College Admission reported the major changes in the redesign last month -- Big Changes Coming to the SAT in 2016:

·        The essay isn't gone, but it's optional and will be scored separately. Students will be asked to read a passage and analyze how its author used evidence, reasoning and stylistic elements to build an argument. The essay will be scored on the strength of that analysis, as well as writing ability.

The American Freshman: More Price-Sensitive, More Liberal and Headed for Business and Medical School

More than three-quarters of this year's freshmen were admitted to their first-choice school but an all-time low of 56.9 percent chose to attend, with price and financial determining the college where they eventually enrolled. The annual survey, The American Freshman: National Norms, which canvassed 165,743 first-time, full-time students entering 234 four-year American colleges and universities, was released yesterday. It found last year's freshmen to be more price-sensitive, increasingly liberal, not very likely to take an online course, and largely focused on careers in business and medicine. You can see the entire report here. And extended reporting from the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed.

How America Pays for College 2013

A new study from Sallie Mae, How America Pays for College 2013, evaluates how families view and manage the cost of a college education today. Among the findings:

  • Increasing optimism about the value of college. A higher percentage of parents than in previous years — 85% — express an unwavering belief that college is an investment in their child's future.
  • A post-recession cost consciousness. Parent out-of-pocket spending has decreased 35% since 2010. Overall, parents now fund approximately one-quarter of college expenses, down from a peak of one-third.
  • A growing reliance on grants and scholarships. “Free” money is filling part of the gap left by lower parental contributions.
  • Larger student contributions. Students are funding more of the college bill through borrowing and savings/income than they did five years ago.

And for more analysis of the survey, see "Holding the Line" in today's Inside Higher Ed.



Admission: The Movie

Admission opened nationwide on Friday and we all rushed out to see it. We mostly agreed with one College Admission friend, a high school college counselor, who thought the movie was fun and said, "There were many admission-related happenings in the movie that rang true, but of course it was dominated by stereotypes." We have one further criticism, but it's a spoiler, so we will keep it to ourselves for now. When you see it, we're sure you'll agree. The blogosophere and media are brimming with reviews this morning. We liked Inside Higher Ed's approach. They invited three college admission experts to view the movie on opening day and share their thoughts. You can read them here.

Walking the Talk

We wanted to bring to your attention an excellent piece from Stuart Schmill, dean of admissions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that appeared in Inside Higher Ed. In "More to Life than AP," Schmill addresses the messages that colleges send to students about how they make their decisions and the role colleges play in shaping students' behavior. He addresses the "holistic" process; what MIT is looking for; and why parents and counselors should give students the confidence to pursue their true interests instead of ignoring them in favor of what they think a college wants.  Candid and reassuring, Schmill's commentary is a must-read.

Changes to Federal Student Loan Programs

The interest rate on student loans will remain at 3.4% thanks to Congressional action last week. But there are other important changes to federal student loan programs that students and families need to be aware of. For example, the "grace period" on subsidized undergraduate loans -- under which the government paid the interest for six months after students left college -- has been eliminated. Inside Higher Ed has a good brief article on the highlights of the new status quo here.