NEXT: Ready or Not – Just How Prepared are Students for College?

Submitted by BNCAdmin on Thu,10/27/2016-13:56

Two years ago, in their research of Millennial-age students, Barnes & Noble College discovered that when it came to career preparedness, students admitted they had put little thought into organizing themselves for the next stage of their lives. With an evolving learning landscape, and a new generation of students on college campuses this semester, a logical precursor might lie in asking, just how prepared are they for college in the first place? In a recent study by the Center for Community College Student Engagement at the University of Texas, Austin, 86 percent of polled students enrolling in community college said they believed they were academically prepared for college, yet 68 percent needed to take at least one developmental education class. “So they’re not as prepared as they think,” Assistant Director of the CCCSE, Courtney Adkins, explains. “What we’re seeing is that most students are getting by — but they are really struggling,” she adds.



If students aren’t as academically prepared for college as they could be, this new generation of learners does have high expectations about college in general. That was just one of the striking themes to emerge from a new survey recently released by MONEY and Barnes & Noble College this summer. “In some respects, they’re going into college with their eyes very much open,” says Barnes & Noble College’s Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Lisa Malat. “This new generation of students is much more practically minded than their Millennial predecessors, and although they’re still optimistic, they’re very focused on taking majors that will land them a good job,” she adds.





They also seem to have a grasp on just how much it’s all going to cost. “Traditionally, we tend to think it’s just the parents who are preoccupied with the cost of college, but what our research told us is that students are even more concerned,” Malat says. The survey highlighted that while parents put greater weight on a school’s reputation, students are looking to balance and measure the true value of a particular institution and are perfectly capable of deleting candidate schools from their list because of cost.


Where family disconnect exists is that almost 30 percent of students were blissfully unaware of the sacrifices their parents were making to pay for their tuition, according to the survey. “What the survey tells us is that, with so many options out there, today’s students are really trying to look at the bigger picture of what the university has to offer. They’re looking not just for the name brand, but asking themselves, ‘does it feel right to me, can I fit in here, am I going to make friends and connect?’” Malat says.



While Washington administrators point to a fifth consecutive year of improvement in the nation’s high school graduation rates, and while Common Core and STEM initiatives might have helped academically, many students are still being ‘taught to the test,’ without the necessary life skills they’ll need to rely on in college. Forty-seven percent, or almost half, of American high school graduates fail to complete a college-ready course of study, and that lack of readiness is resulting in some challenges for colleges and universities. The New York Times refers to a ‘dropout crisis,’ citing more than a quarter of those who start college and abandon their effort without earning a degree. It’s a major factor in low college graduation rates, and first-generation and non-traditional students are particularly at risk with less opportunity for academic preparation and fewer support resources.


Barnes & Noble College believes support should be available to students in the early stages of their transition from high school to college. “Our students have told us, through our research and store experiences, that they’re not necessarily prepared to hit the ground running from their first day on their new campus — and that they appreciate a ‘road map’ to help them better connect with their new school,” says Malat. “Barnes & Noble College stores build on pre-acceptance email outreach; with in-store events like our VIP Nights, which bring students into the campus community,” she says, adding, “This is more than just about helping them find the right textbooks. By using the bookstore, social media outreach and collaboration with the school’s other support services, we can help them familiarize themselves with a new learning and social environment from day one.”


Despite the rising cost of education, a college degree is still one of the best investments that a young person can make. In 2015, the median income among workers aged 22 to 27, with a bachelor’s degree, was $43,000, compared with $25,000 for those with just a high school diploma. Over a lifetime, a person with a bachelor’s degree typically earns $800,000 more than someone who has completed only high school — even after netting out tuition costs.


The school orientation process can be extremely stressful for new students. They ...continue »

NEXT: The Class of 2020 Brings New Preferences and Expectations to Campus

Submitted by BNCAdmin on Mon,10/10/2016-12:18

As the Class of 2020 settles into the rhythm of their first semester at college, what are they discovering about their new campus and the learning and social opportunities it affords them? Familiarizing themselves with an environment that is very different from the high schools or jobs they’ve just left, how might the student journey they’re just beginning already take a different course from that of this year’s graduating class?



One very obvious place where change is most influencing the college experience is in the classroom, as colleges and universities begin to more firmly embrace technology in teaching. More technology in the lecture hall or lab is a change that this year’s freshmen class is already familiar with, having already used laptops, tablets and multi-platform digital learning experiences since middle school and high-school. “In the print versus digital debate, Gen Z just might be the group that finally tips the scales,” explains Barnes & Noble College Research Specialist, Steve McSpiritt. “Our research has told us that, typically, Millennials prefer reading in print by a four-to-one margin over digital,” he adds, “but 46 percent of Gen Z students have already used tools like e-textbooks and adaptive learning in their classrooms, with over 80 percent finding them very or extremely helpful.”



Although Gen Z is just now hitting college campuses across the country, another demographic is growing on campus — and online: non-traditional students. According to the Center for Post Secondary Education study, non-traditional student enrollment is projected to grow more than twice as fast as traditional-age students (8.7 percent and 21.7 percent respectively) from 2012 to 2022. “As student demographics continue to shift, we felt it was critical to gain a better understanding of this particular student population,” says Lisa Malat, Vice President and Chief Marketing Office for Barnes & Noble College, in reference to their new Achieving Success for Non-Traditional Students report. “These findings help define and compare educational paths between traditional and non-traditional students, and will also be helpful to college and university administrators — and the higher education industry — to improve success for non-traditional students.” Non-traditional students are described as learners who might be juggling higher education with a full or part-time job, or those looking to retrain between careers, pick up their education after active service in the military, or those with responsibilities of managing children or other dependents. Malat’s advice to colleges and universities on how to deal with this growing demographic is to “stay relevant and connect with students in a personal way based on their own journey.”



Even ‘Digital Natives’ have to eat, and Lisa Shapiro, Barnes & Noble College’s Director of Café and Convenience, believes that this year will see a continuation in the popularity of some perennial snack favorites, along with some new cravings freshman will consider all their own. “Some staples that students have always traditionally turned to are developing their own popularity,” Shapiro points out, citing the phenomena of bar snacking.


As a food group, Shapiro says that bars have met the essential student criteria of being portable, snackable and easy-to-eat —and  on-the-go between classes — yet the category is growing with brand extensions such as meat jerky options and, increasingly, greater protein options. “Good protein is really, really important to our students — not just for athletes, but across our entire customer base of students who are looking for something that doesn’t have a lot of calories, but has that extra nutritional benefit.” She points to best-selling products like Quest Bars, a brand firmly targeted at the young, health-conscious consumers, and which is proving popular not only with students, but also faculty and staff who regularly visit the campus store. Also, alternative protein options such as beans, chickpeas, quinoa, and nut butters are appealing to this more knowledgeable generation of consumers who are also demanding packaging transparency and cleaner ingredients.



There are changes also afoot when it comes to how students share their college experiences. Social media has become a staple in the way students communicate, but it’s likely the Class of 2020 will be keeping the chat to a minimum. “When we moved to status updates on Facebook, posts became shorter,” says Dr. William J. Ward, Social Media Professor at Syracuse University. “But then micro-blogs like Twitter came along and shortened our updates to 140 characters, and now we’re even skipping words altogether and moving towards more visual communication with social-sharing sites,” he says.


This trend toward the visual is something also being tracked by Sandra Webb, Social Media Specialist at Barnes & Noble College. “Instagram will likely have staying power with Generation Z just because it is so visual,” she points out. Pew research found that 53 percent of young adults aged 18-29 are using Instagram and logging high engagement levels — nearly half (49 percent) of all Instagram users reported daily activity.


Webb also points to better technology, higher definition cellphone cameras and video-sharing as influencing the trend. And students aren’t just using their devices to keep in touch. Compared to just three years ago, the portion of students on college campuses using mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets to study, climbed to unprecedented levels, with an 81 percent jump between 2013 and 2014, according to research from McGraw-Hill Education and Hanover Research.

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