First-of-Its-Kind Dual Enrollment Program Enables Xceed Anywhere Students to Earn University of Pittsburgh Credits

WESTON, Fla., Dec. 3, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — When Faith, a Florida high school student, learned she could earn college credits from the University of Pittsburgh from the comfort of her own home and at no cost to her, she couldn’t wait to sign up.

“I was excited to hear that I will be able to take a college-level course in a subject I like and earn credits toward my first year in college,” Faith said. “I’m looking forward to taking Psychology and I’m happy Xceed Anywhere is giving me this opportunity.”

Faith is a student at Xceed Anywhere (XA), a private virtual school for students in grades 6-12 known for its innovative, personalized and flexible educational model. Through a new dual enrollment partnership with the University of Pittsburgh and Outlier.org—the first of its kind in the country—11th and 12th grade students at Xceed Anywhere can earn college credits, online, in a timeframe that aligns with their schedules. The cost is included in their tuition.

“This unique opportunity with the University of Pittsburgh and Outlier.org further extends our mission of building learning plans around our students’ needs, passions and goals,” said Dr. Brent Goldman, founder and CEO of Xceed Anywhere and Xceed Preparatory Academy. “Our students will graduate with credits from one of the top research universities in the country. This is a value-added benefit we are giving our kids.”

“The University of Pittsburgh has a long history of providing opportunities for high school students to gain college credit as they work to complete their high school diplomas and advance their long-term goals. Pitt’s College in High School is one example of our existing efforts—and we are excited to further expand our outreach nationally through Xceed Anywhere,” said University of Pittsburgh Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Ann E. Cudd.

Xceed Anywhere students will take their courses through the University of Pittsburgh’s partnership with Outlier.org, which was just named one of TIME’s Best Inventions of 2020. Created by MasterClass co-founder Aaron Rasmussen, Outlier.org is an online education platform working to increase access to quality college education for all and reduce student debt. The virtual learning platform features immersive courses, cinema-quality video and interactive exercises that are just as effective as in-person classes. Courses are taught by engaging professors from leading universities such as Columbia, Yale, Duke, NYU, MIT, Cornell and University College London and include Calculus I, Intro to Astronomy, Intro to Psychology and Intro to Statistics.

“As a former dual-enrollment student in high school, it was formative in building my confidence in my ability to do college-level work,” said Aaron Rasmussen, founder and CEO of Outlier.org. “Part of our mission is to increase access to quality college-level courses for students worldwide, and I’m excited about giving this opportunity to students at Xceed.”

Betty Norton, Head of School for Xceed Anywhere, agreed, stating, “Our students are poised to have a competitive

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This Texas higher education campaign is working to stop declining enrollment in its tracks

Hundreds of counselors and college professionals are getting more support as they work harder to get students into college amid declining enrollment at institutions of higher learning during the coronavirus pandemic.

College enrollment took a 3% hit during the current academic year and two-year institutions suffered a much sharper 8% decline, says the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. TxCan, an Educate Texas initiative, also reports October data showing Texas at a 17 percent Free Application for Federal Student Aid completion rate, a 3 percent decrease from last year.

That’s left educators scrambling for a way to hold the line during the COVID-19 pandemic. A new coalition of more than 700 counselors and college access professionals aims to provide more support for school counselors in Texas who need to reach prospective college students.

According to the Texas Education Agency, 354,312 seniors were enrolled in Texas public schools during the 2019-2020 school year. John Fitzpatrick, executive director of the education nonprofit Educate Texas, says safety protocols to stop the spread of COVID-19 in public schools are limiting counselors in how they can reach these students.

“Our high school counselors and college admissions officers are working so hard to engage these 350,000 students,” said Fitzpatrick. “But as all of us are experiencing, it’s incredibly hard in the time of COVID. A year ago it was really easy to find a high school senior in the hall at school, but now the student may not even be in the building.”

This is where the new statewide Future Focused Texas campaign comes in, Fitzpatrick said at a Tuesday news conference announcing the initiative. With the help of the higher education coordinating board and Educate Texas, the effort seeks to get data and resources into the hands of counselors now mostly limited to online access to students.

“Every week, we are curating timely and compelling content for them to share with students, we are giving them cut and paste handouts, resources, website communications, that make it easier for them to communicate with students virtually,” said Fitzpatrick. “We are particularly focused on many of our small rural districts that have even fewer resources and we are trying to do everything from helping with (federal student aid) completion efforts to engaging students.”

Fitzpatrick says 25,000 visits to the new coalition’s websites shows its efforts are working.

The free research-based digital content for school counselors to help their students graduate and enroll in college is provided through a partnership led by Get Schooled and Educate Texas/TxCAN, as well as the higher education board, Texas OnCourse, United College for Success, and College Forward.

Future Focused Texas is also delivering tips and tricks to students via social media to guide them through the college application process.

To directly engage students, the higher education board created a virtual advising project that includes a chatbot feature, called ADVi, that reaches students via text messaging.

“We have advisors that are trained and funded by the College Advising Corps and the state of Texas to

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Texas leaders say enrollment, FAFSA applications down because of COVID-19

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The number of Texas high school seniors filling out the federal financial aid application for college, known as FAFSA, is down so far from last year, a sign worrying state higher education leaders that the COVID-19 pandemic is still disrupting many students’ pathway to college.

According to the National College Attainment Network’s FAFSA tracker, just 24% of Texas seniors have filled out the vital financial aid application as of November 20, a 14.6% decline compared to the same time last year.

Preliminary enrollment data from the state shows this fall’s college enrollment was down 3%, or more than 47,000 students, primarily among community colleges.

The enrollment and application data was discussed at a Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board press conference, where officials said they are concerned that the pandemic is disproportionately affecting underrepresented students, including low-income students, Hispanic and Black students, and rural students.

Higher education leaders across Texas say high school counselors are struggling to connect with students virtually and students aren’t receiving the same information about college applications and financial aid that they would be if they were in school every day.

“A year ago it was really easy to find a high school senior in the hall at the school, but now the student may not even be in the building,” said John Fitzpatrick, executive director of the nonprofit, Educate Texas, on a call with reporters Tuesday.

To combat the declines, the state recently launched a public-private partnership called Future Focused Texas to better support counselors and students, and maintain the state’s college enrollment numbers during the pandemic.

The program includes weekly resources that school counselors can pass to students with deadlines, financial aid eligibility requirements and FAFSA supports. The state also created a new chatbot called ADVi that can immediately answer students’ questions 24-hours-a-day, send reminder texts and connect students with virtual advisers during the week.

So far, 700 counselors across the state have already opted into the program, but the group is trying to double that number. More than 100,000 high school seniors have signed up for the text message program.

Program leaders say they are trying to meet students where they are on social media.

“They will listen to another kid on Tik Tok or something a lot more than me as their dad,” said Fitzpatrick, referring to his own teeangers. “We’re trying to use the same tools to create this sense of this online community so kids and families can do the same thing they do with Amazon to apply and get into college.”

Students can also get feedback from peers on the college admissions essays.

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench in Texas’ progress toward its 60×30 plan, which aims to ensure 60% of Texans age 25 to 34 have some kind of postsecondary credential by 2030. According to a report presented to the board

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Why for-profit college enrollment has increased during the pandemic

  • For-profit colleges are faring better than their public and private nonprofit counterparts during the pandemic, according to higher education researcher Molly Ott.
  • She says students are attending for-profit colleges because of their additional flexibility, financial resources, and expertise in remote learning strategies.
  • According to Ott, for-profits can afford to be financially nimble during difficult times, which is why they have considerably more online programs than nonprofits that can flourish during the pandemic. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

When COVID-19 hit the US, many experts warned that America’s colleges and universities could be devastated. Some of them predicted enrollment declines of up to 20%.

So far, those initial forecasts were worse than what has actually taken place. One month into the fall semester of the 2020-2021 academic year, overall enrollment was only 3% lower than at the same time a year earlier.

One kind of school, however, is faring better: for-profit colleges. Their average enrollment is up by 3%.

In contrast, at public and private nonprofit four-year universities, enrollment fell by about 1.4% and 2%, respectively.

Enrollment has declined much more at community colleges, which had 9.4% fewer students this year. This change occurred even though some experts anticipated community colleges would be more attractive in the COVID-19 era because of their lower costs and flexible transfer policies.

Factors behind the trend

Why are more students attending for-profit colleges in the middle of a pandemic?

This growth is even more surprising given that enrollment at for-profit schools — often criticized as being high priced and low quality — had fallen by an average of 10.5% annually between 2015 and 2019.

As a higher education researcher, I see several factors at play.

For-profit colleges and universities tend to be highly experienced with remote learning, they have more flexibility to deploy financial resources as needed and they have enjoyed favorable policies under the Trump administration, which notably rescinded an Obama-era rule meant to hold them accountable for ensuring that graduates are gainfully employed.

Given the recent presidential election results, I also suspect the increase in for-profit enrollment may be short-lived. Graduates of for-profit colleges are defaulting on their tuition loans at higher rates, and President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to stop these schools from “profiteering off of students.”

Read more: 3 Great Recession grads who have earned 6 figures while working for Netflix and Bank of America share the steps they took to land a job during a downturn

Recognized in remote learning

More than 1,000 US colleges and universities — over one-fourth of the nation’s postsecondary institutions — started the fall 2020 semester with some form of in-person instruction. But the face-to-face learning environment has been transformed by COVID-19 prevention measures: social distancing, mask wearing, virus testing requirements, hybrid attendance options, and serious restrictions on extracurricular activities, such as sports and clubs.

What you may think of as the “traditional” college experience — where students live, learn and socialize in close physical proximity — is largely not happening this year.

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Gold lauds UNO for enrollment growth, academic expansion in State of the University speech | Education

Gold has been chancellor of both the NU Medical Center and UNO for about three years. He was given the UNO role by then-NU President Hank Bounds on an interim basis and then a permanent basis when a national search for a new chancellor failed to find a leader.

Gold will continue to run the med center, which he has overseen for about seven years. Carter last week also named Gold executive vice president and provost of the NU system, which includes institutions in Omaha, Lincoln and Kearney.

Our best staff images of September 2020

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Record enrollment helps University of Tennessee finances

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Record enrollment has helped the University of Tennessee to make up for much of the revenue lost due to the coronavirus crisis, system President Randy Boyd said this week.

Lost revenue and added costs totaled around $147 million including about $40 million in lost revenue from sports, the Knoxville New Sentinel reported. However, thanks to grants, reduced expenses and an increase in tuition revenue, the total deficit was around $9 million, which was covered by reserve money, Boyd said at a Friday Board of Trustees meeting.

Enrollment increased 1.9% across the UT system to an all-time high of 52,559 students.

“Even though we had zero increase in tuition, our enrollment is up, and thus, our revenue from enrollment is up,” Boyd said. “Second, we get a third of our funds from the state of Tennessee. The state of Tennessee gave us the same amount of money this year as they did last year, so we didn’t take a cut there. And then third, our research dollars were actually up this year 1.4%, so all the key sources of revenue were either flat or up.”

Boyd said he does not have financial concerns for the spring semester.

To help cover the athletics deficit, the athletic department is instituting a tiered salary-reduction for employees earning more than $50,000 annually, effective Nov. 1 through the end of the fiscal year. The pay cuts are expected to save up to $1.6 million.

UT Knoxville will also cover several annual costs that the university typically charges the athletic department, including academic services and parking fees and will loan the athletic department any needed funds if assistance is unavailable from the SEC.

The Board also voted to reaffirm its diversity statement and add alumni to the statement. It now reads, “The Board of Trustees recognizes that diversity in the educational environment, including an outstanding and diverse student body, faculty, staff, and alumni, and an environment conducive to learning, adds value to the educational experience and the degree earned.”

Of the current UT system students, 19.6% are people of color. Meanwhile, current public high school juniors and seniors in Tennessee are about 36% people of color, according to Brian Dickens, chief human resource officer and chief diversity officer.

“If you look, two and three, four years out in terms of the diverse population that’s going to be coming through for potential students, it’s important that our campus reflects that population,” Board Chair John Compton said.

The Board also discussed plans to add Martin Methodist College, in Pulaski, to the UT System.

Discussions are still in the early stages, but UT hopes to have a special-called board meeting about the addition before the end of the year, Boyd said.

“We believe this is a win-win-win for Martin Methodist and that community,” Boyd said Friday. “We’ve talked with the faculty and the staff and they are incredibly excited about the opportunity to be a part of the state system.”

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As coronavirus threatens Latino college enrollment, a university works to retain students

Jessica Martinez spent her weekdays from mid-May through early August in front of a computer screen, tuning into an online law school preparation course for hours on end. She finished leftover assignments at night, then clocked in for 12-hour shifts on weekends as a pediatric home nurse during a pandemic.

“I definitely didn’t sleep very much,” says Martinez, a senior and the student government president at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). “And I did have to work to pay off my summer classes, so it’s not like I could have taken the time off.”

Nick Ortiz, a senior at UTEP’s College of Science and a senator in student government, says he even contemplated taking a break amid the pandemic, but the thought only lingered for a day or two thanks to a generous scholarship as well as support from his peers. One friend, however, still wrestles with whether to enroll for future semesters if their coursework remains online.

Science classes are difficult by their very nature, Ortiz said, “but when you go from in-person learning to online learning, they become exponentially harder.”

On top of adjusting to a completely different academic framework with remote learning, many Latino students across the country are facing a stark reality as their communities are disproportionately affected not only by Covid-19, but by the devastating economic downturn.

Jessica Martinez, a senior at UTEP, has managed to forge ahead academically. But she’s well aware of the difficulties some of her classmates are facing as they also try to stay on track amid the coronavirus fallout.Courtesy of Jessica Martinez

Soon after the pandemic hit the U.S., almost two-thirds of Latino students reported dealing with insecurity around even their most basic needs, such as food and housing, according to a survey by Temple University’s Hope Center for College, Community and Justice, a research group focused on the needs of college students.

Another survey in August by the polling firm Latino Decisions found 37 percent of Hispanics nationwide said their families were thinking about pumping the brakes on college attendance. In California, the state with the largest Hispanic population, a majority of Latinos with student debt were considering returning to school only part time or not at all, at least temporarily.

That potential exodus jeopardizes hard wongains in Latino college enrollment — up almost 150 percent since 2000 — and Latino college completion, which has been steadily increasing. Despite gains, almost a quarter (24 percent) of Hispanic adults have at least an associate’s degree, compared with 46 percent of non-Latino whites.

With the coronavirus, even nationally recognized Hispanic-Serving Institutions such as UTEP — with a student body that’s roughly 80 percent Hispanic — saw some decline in enrollment this fall. A cohort of first-year students and transfers from El Paso Community College (EPCC) decided against attending the four-year Texas university this year, when recent high school graduates accounted for almost all of the modest 1.2 percent decline in headcount enrollment compared to last fall.

Those

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Illinois community colleges see big drop in enrollment amid the coronavirus pandemic, reflecting national declines in higher education

Enrollment at Illinois community colleges plunged nearly 14% this fall, an indication that low-income and older students who typically favor the institutions might be struggling to pursue higher education because of the coronavirus pandemic.



a large brick building with grass in front of a house: Enrollment at Oakton Community College, whose Skokie campus is shown here, dropped this fall by about 12.4% to 7,079 students.


© Erin Hooley / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Enrollment at Oakton Community College, whose Skokie campus is shown here, dropped this fall by about 12.4% to 7,079 students.

All but three of the state’s 48 community colleges saw substantial headcount declines, according to initial data from the Illinois Community College Board. Compared to last year, about 37,200 fewer students enrolled in for-credit classes this fall. Some of the biggest drops were among students over age 30 and in career-track courses such as nursing, construction and welding.

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The preliminary data, collected in an online survey at the end of class registration, mirrors national trends. The latest analysis by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center shows community colleges are suffering the greatest losses, with first-year students down nearly 23%. Countrywide, undergraduate enrollment declined about 4% across all colleges and universities.

In Illinois, community colleges serve a significant population of minority and first-generation students, said Brian Durham, executive director of the ICCB.

Many of these students already face financial or technological hurdles, which have only worsened during the pandemic, Durham said. Enrollment for African American and Latino students were down about 19% compared to a 12% decrease for white students, Durham said.

“Even those that might enroll virtually, they may have a challenge getting access to a computer,” Durham said. “They may have a challenge having enough computers to also allow their children to do virtual instruction. Or of course, it could be that people have lost jobs, or they are having housing challenges.”

In the survey sent to Illinois community colleges, many identified the pandemic as the biggest issue affecting enrollment. Colleges reported large dips in areas such as career technical education and adult education. Those courses typically require in-person instruction, which has been difficult to offer during the pandemic and possibly undesirable to students, Durham said.

Though the state’s community college enrollment has been decreasing in recent years, the drops this fall are steeper. In each year since 2016, enrollment fell between 3% and 4%, according to ICCB. This fall, overall headcount fell by 13.7%.

During economic downturns, community colleges often see demand surge. Instead of entering a shaky job market, recent graduates and adults have enrolled to earn professional certifications and increase their earning potential. This year, community colleges tried to present themselves as affordable options for students who would otherwise be living at home and taking online classes at expensive four-year universities.

Out of the grim data, one bright spot emerged from City Colleges of Chicago. While enrollment at six of the network’s seven schools decreased, the overall headcount at the Malcolm X campus on the Near West Side jumped by 4.7%. Outside of the city, McHenry County College in Crystal Lake and Shawnee Community College in downstate Ullin, near the Missouri border, saw

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Fall enrollment decline could result in $54M loss for Michigan State University

EAST LANSING, MI — Enrollment is down nearly 900 students at Michigan State University compared to last year, and it could cost the university $54 million in revenue as officials keep working through the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Enrollment for the fall 2020 semester is 49,695, which is 883 less students than the 50,578 enrolled in fall 2019, according to MSU’s enrollment report. There are drops in both out-of-state and international undergraduate students, which MSU President Samuel Stanley said could play a large role in the university’s revenue loss.

“The current tuition revenue reflects both a decline in total enrollment and an adverse change in student composition,” Stanley said in a letter to the MSU community. “It also is essential to note, a smaller class will have at least a four-year impact on our budget as that class moves through each year toward graduation.”

From 2019 to 2020, MSU’s international enrollment declined by 1,165 students, according to the report,

According to MSU’s office of admissions website, in-state freshmen pay approximately $14,524 for tuition and fees. That number increases to $39,830 for out-of-state freshmen and $41,330 for international students.

MSU chose to freeze tuition for the 2020-21 academic year, marking the third year in a row tuition did not increase at the university.

Michigan State University freezing tuition rates amid coronavirus pandemic

This summer, Stanley and MSU administrators implemented cost-cutting measures after predicting losses of between $150 million and $300 million for fiscal year 2021, including:

  • Deferring some capital projects
  • Reducing unit spending by a minimum of 3%
  • Cutting pay for all MSU executive managers and deans, ranging between 2% and 10%
  • Furloughing more than 800 union employees and 700 student employees in units with severe budgetary challenges such as residential and hospitality services
  • Reducing wages for non-union faculty and academic staff, ranging from 1% to 7%, with those earning less than $50,000 annually exempt from reductions
  • Reducing the employer-match in retirement contributions for all faculty and academic staff from a 2:1 ratio to 1:1
  • Reducing university-related travel, contractors and vendors

MSU is also utilizing some of its reserves to fill remaining budget holes, Stanley said. MSU also has increased costs related to the coronavirus pandemic due to online class delivery, technology upgrades, cleaning and sanitation and COVID-19 testing and detection efforts, Stanley said.

MSU is delivering almost all its classes online, and Stanley — along with University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel and Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson — said he doesn’t expect students to return to the classroom until next fall.

Students not expected to return to in-person classes until fall 2021, college presidents say

Cost-saving measures will continue, Stanley said, adding he plans to meet with the board of trustees in the coming weeks to discuss the university’s finances.

“In the meantime, MSU will continue to deliver on its core mission as an inclusive community with strong academic disciplines and a liberal arts foundation,” Stanley said. “Despite our challenges, we will continue providing a world-class

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