Obama Pushes College Priority For 2020

In a speech at the University of Texas, President Obama highlighted the dramatic drop in college graduates. According to a recent College Board report the United States ranks 12th among 36 developing nations in the number of college graduates ages 25-34. Not only are we losing college graduates we are faltering as an economic power. We can no longer wait to reposition ourselves by investing so little of the nation’s budget in K12 and college education.

The door is open for the United States to make education an economic priority. There are rapid changes all over the world which require students who can think and create new products and services at a fast rate. Too many countries are ahead of the United States in marketing and selling products to the world. Producing more college graduates by 2020 will make America’s companies more competitive. The United States must open the doors to college at all levels. Community colleges must be a part of the plan to increase college graduation rates. A community college education can be beneficial for the traditional and non-traditional age college student. Part of creating a sustainable society is looking at all dimensions of the economic challenges that we face. It seems that education takes second place to other national priorities.

Arne Duncan Secretary of education says that 60 percent of the population who are ages 25-34 need to graduate with a college degree. Currently, only 40 percent of college age students are graduating from their university. It’s time to find a way to close the education gap that persists at the K12 level. There is a big question regarding who is qualified to receive a college education. Too many students are 3 or 4 years behind their grade level when they graduate from high school. The root of the K12 problem must be addressed simultaneously with the college push.

Too many people do not understand the economic importance of increasing the number of college graduates. They act like we’re still an agricultural and manufacturing society. The information age is shifting the way that we manufacture and sell products around the world. Students need to be competent at higher levels to create the new businesses that will compete and raise our economic position around the world. If we do not change our approach to education students will continue to slide and incomes in the United States will remain stagnant.

President Obama has a plan to invest in education now. The congress and the senate must act on his initiatives rather than focus on policies that are politically expedient. Underfunding education will result in bigger problems in the years ahead. We need to increase the number of college graduates to fill the demands as the baby boomers begin to retire. If we do not prepare the next generation companies will continue to move abroad. Companies will get employees wherever they can find them. It’s important that we find ways to maximize the learning opportunities for every student.

Choosing the Right Private School Education

You have made the decision to give your child a private school education. With so many options, how do find the right one to fit your child’s needs? The first steps are to consider your priorities, arm yourself with a lengthy list of questions and start setting up appointments. Your child’s education is too important not to take the time to choose the perfect fit.

Why Choose a Private School Education?

Those sending their children to private schools have a variety of motives behind their decision. For some the decision is based on moral values and religion. Others feel that a private education offers better academics and want their child in a smaller class that will offer the benefit of more personal attention.

It is important to have a list of education priorities before you start looking for a school. For example, if academics are more important to you than religion, but religion is more important to you than extracurricular activities, have academics be number one on your list, religion be number two on your list and extracurricular activities be number three on your list.

Private School Considerations

As part of choosing the right private school for your child, you will have to go through a process of elimination to get the number of schools you are considering down to a manageable number.

You might want to consider:

  • Finances. What can you afford to pay for an education at a private school? Ask if there are any financial aid or scholarship programs available to you. In addition, some states, including Arizona, Florida and Minnesota, offer breaks on income taxes if you send your kids to a private school.
  • Grade Levels. Do you want your child to have the option to stay through high school? Not all private schools offer grades kindergarten through 12.
  • Location. You will have to decide how far you are willing to drive. As you get closer to selecting a school, you can also inquire if there are any other students at the school who live in your area. You may then be able to carpool.

Questions to Ask

Additional questions to ask include:

  • Accreditation. Is the school accredited? If so, who is the accreditation body?
  • Instruction Model. What is the school’s education philosophy? Does it have a traditional or alternative approach to education? What is the school’s policy on homework, grading and testing?
  • Service Staff. What kind of staff does the school have? Is there a school nurse on location? Does the school have a psychologist or counselor? Is there a librarian on staff?
  • Principal or Headmaster Turnover. If the school burns through principals, the school may have a problem.
  • Teacher Turnover. What is the teacher turnover rate at the school? Typically speaking, private schools have higher teacher turnover rates than do public schools. In addition, smaller private schools have larger turnover than do larger private schools. However, a teacher turnover rate of 40% or more may be an indication of problems at the school.

Plan a Visit

As you get closer to choosing a private school, you should schedule an appointment with your candidate schools’ headmaster or principal.

  • Ask about student attrition. The longer that students stay at a school, the more likely the school is to be well-run.
  • Ask for names of parents who have children at the school for references.
  • Are the school’s textbooks up to date?
  • Does the school have enough computers? Does the school use the latest in technology in teaching?
  • Does the school have programs for parent involvement?
  • How does the school feel? Are children interacting, smiling and participating?
  • How does the school qualify their teachers? Does the school offer teachers additional training?
  • If your child has special needs, what types of programs does the school offer that will help?
  • Look at the grounds and facilities. How new are the facilities? How well are the facilities and grounds maintained? Is the library well-stocked with books?
  • What type of relationship does the school have with local businesses and the local community?
  • When are applications accepted? Is there a waiting list? If so, how long is the waiting list?

Making the Choice

You will have to narrow down your choices to a select few and then visit each school before you make a final decision. Do not get discouraged if the process takes a little longer than you would like. It is important to get an education for your child that matches the your requirements as closely as possible.

Commercialisation of Higher Education in South Africa

Introduction and Literature Review

South African education policies place priority on addressing historical education imbalances, but should also be sensitive to the demands of an ever-increasing global knowledge-driven environment. The educational system cannot be dominated by the needs of the domestic educational system of South Africa ignoring the trends exerted by the global world (OEDC Annual Report, 2004:44). Higher education in South Africa should realize that they operate and function in a knowledge-driven global environment in which both domestic and foreign students demand access to the best quality education at the best reputable institutions of higher education in the world.

In this regard, most definitions of internationalization of higher education include the following: “Internationalisation is a process that prepares the community for successful participation in an increasingly interdependent world … The process infuse all facets of the post-secondary education system, fostering global understanding and developing skills for effective living and working in a diverse world” (Francis, 1993 cited by Patrick, 1997).

The position of higher education in South Africa should be evaluated considering the re-integration of South Africa into the global community. South Africa was rapidly re-integrated into the world community by obtaining almost immediate membership of influential international organisations after 1994. Kishun (1998:59) indicated that South Africa became a member of among others the following international institutions: United Nations; Organisation of African Unity; Commonwealth; International Olympic Committee; Federation of International Football Associations; and Lome Convention. Integration of influential international institutions is a necessary but not sufficient pre-condition for internationalization of higher education. Sustainable internationalization should be closely aligned to the emerging global trends and events in the education sector.

An analysis of the basis on which internationalization of higher education occurs is needed as well as the benefits of the internationalization process. This research is conducted against this background.

Problem Statement

Whilst South Africa is in a process of transition regarding higher education to address the imbalances of the past, the question arises whether the South African educational sector is able to compete in the global economy which regard knowledge as a commercialised commodity.

Methodology

A sample size of 781 respondents from six institutions of higher education in South Africa was selected. Senior students were randomly selected using the convenience sampling technique. A semi-structured questionnaire was developed to measure the perceived competitive profile of institutions of higher education in South Africa. The questionnaire constitutes five measuring foci, namely:

· Section A: Institutional information regarding the location where the respondent is enrolled.

· Section B: Biographical information in terms of gender, type of student and country of origin.

· Section C: Decision criteria used to select an institution of higher education.

· Section D: Four competitive dimensions of higher education institutions, including strategic competitiveness, institutional competitiveness, product competitiveness, and tactical competitiveness.

· Section E: Open-ended questions, aimed to identify the reasons why respondents choose a specific institution of higher education, their opinion on the institution’s competitive reputation, and the factors that may influence the international competitiveness of the particular institution.

The data was transformed into two opposite categories, namely those who agreed with the statements and those who disagreed, enabling the researchers to derive a hypothesized agreement-disagreement distribution. Those who neither agreed nor disagreed were allocated to the disagreement group set giving and expected disagreement response set of 57% (p=0.57) and an agreement response set of 43% (q=0.43). The Binomial test was employed to determine whether the observed distribution correspond with the hypothesized distribution using a significance test level of 0.05. Furthermore, the level of agreement or disagreement with the selected competitive statements and the extend of agreements between the respondents from the different institutions on the various statements were determined by executing four statistical procedures, namely: ANOVA to compare the means of respondents from the different institutions; determining how much of the perception variation could be accounted for by the influence of the different institutions of higher education; determining the averages for each strategic dimension to obtain an indication of the level of agreement with the competitive statements; and determining the standard deviations to obtain an indication of the extend to which consensus exists within the sample.

Findings

With regard to the strategic competitiveness of South African institutions of higher education to engage in a seamless network the respondents were of the opinion that South African institutions of higher education give low priority to attract foreign students, are not well known for attracting foreign students, are not actively involved in exchange programmes of students and lecturers, and do not have active engagements or agreements with other tertiary institutions, businesses and communities.

On the issue of institutional competitiveness, the majority of respondents were of the opinion that institutions of higher education in South Africa have the ability to attract quality students, does not have an international student culture, offers qualifications that are internationally accepted, can claim international reputability on post-graduate level, offers competitive tuition fees, deliver research outputs that are internationally recognized, and are not easily accessible.

In terms of product competitiveness the majority of respondents indicated that institutions of higher education in South Africa have active orientation programmes to familiarise foreign and domestic students with the institutions, provide safe and secure learning environments, provide leading information technology for academic growth and excellence, do not easily adapt to the needs and wants of students, and provide convenient service packages to students.

With regard to tactical competitiveness institutions of higher education in South Africa have the ability to compile a diploma or degree offering that meets or exceeds international standards in terms of offering subject content of international standard, having internationally acclaimed staff, aggressively marketing its qualifications internationally, claiming international acceptable through-put, and having acceptable grant and loan schemes accessible to students.

Conclusion and Recommendations

The majority of respondents are in agreement that institutions of higher education in South Africa are able to compete internationally on the four competitive dimensions (strategic, institutional, tactical and product). Internationalisation requires that institutions of higher education in South Africa should emphasise a somewhat loosening of the relationship with Government, despite the paradoxical need to create new transformational bodies to address the imbalances of the past. Internationalisation of higher education implies that internationalised institutions operate on new super ordinate levels which has its own legal, administrative and revenue-raising powers.

In terms of strategic direction institutions of higher education might consider at least one of the following internationalization approaches:

· “Would-be internationalization”: Applies to academics and institutions wanting to be involved in internationalization but facing problems in being considered on equal terms.

· “Life or death internationalization”: Countries, their academics and institutions, which view internationalization cooperation as indispensable for their status and role in the global world.

· “Two areas”: Academics and institutions have the option of striving for either more national or more international status and orientation. The academic field in which one is operating often determines this.

· “Internationalisation by import”: Countries and institutions that treat internationalization only as coming from outside, by hosting foreign students and publishing research. It should not represent a separate strategy towards internationalisation.

References

Kishun, R. 1998. Internationalization in South Africa. In The globalization of Higher Education. Scott, P. ed. Buckingham: Open University Press.

OECD Annual Report. 2004. Education. p.41-45.

Patrick, K. 1997. CSDF project full report: Internationalising the University. Melbourne: RMIT.

Online Distance Education Program – How To Improve Your Life While Living It

Getting an education is hard work. Some of that work comes in the form of just making a decision to get one. Graduating from high school can be a daunting experience when you are in your late teens. You are just becoming an adult and have hardly begun to learn how to make important life decisions of your own. Asking you parents or mentors what you should do just confuses you more. Thinking that getting an education is always a good idea, you might decide to go ahead and get one. Then you are faced with a quandary of career choices and wonder which one you should choose. It is important that you choose one and pursue it with all of your heart. Remember what they say about first impressions? They are usually right. If you follow your heart’s motivation, you will find that the education that you are pursuing is the right choice for you. Here are some insights on making some of those decisions and the benefits of getting an education from an online distance education program.

The major motivating factors behind getting an education are money and reputation, what one is thought to be by others. Taking the opportunity to increase the potential of increased income is always a worthy venture. Statistically, getting an education does that for you. The average wage earned in 2005 by a college graduate was $51,206. The average wage earned by a high school graduate was $27,915. The average wage earned by those with no high-school diploma earned was $18,734. Even in an unhealthy economy, $51,206 is a lot more than $27,915 or $18,734. Which one would you rather have?

Reputation comes with being an expert in your field. For the most part, I think, the expertise that we come out of high school will be a reputation of another sort. I remember priorities in high school being relationships, foot ball, dances, and other assorted illegal substances. But there are those who realize the importance of taking a career aim while in high school that will give them a great head start in life. They hold off on the fun stuff like going to work right away and getting married. They put a priority on their education and delay the gratification that some of us pursued so vigorously in high school.

You didn’t see much of this group. They stayed in the shadows of mathematics and science. They always had their noses in their books. They actually held intelligent conversations with their teachers. I don’t know how many times I heard from another student that a teacher was boring. When these students spoke with each other, they were always talking about their studies. I found them very boring and, well boring just like their teachers!

Something happens to an adolescent while in high school. I here it happens earlier with female students than with males. Sometimes we grow up. Realizing that the life we have in the homes of our parents will not last forever, we make the decisions that will last a lifetime. Who do we want to be? What do we want to do? We decide to continue our education, not because high school was so much fun, but we know that we are not yet ready to strike out on our own. If we did now, we would never reach the goals of affluence desired.

Affluance, as a result of education, can be attained at any stage of life. We are taught that earlier is better. The perfect student does perfectly well in high school, does not let the events of life at that age get in the way of a higher cause, chooses a very ambitious college or university program, never misses a class and graduates with honors every time. They also have a lot of interviews lined up with very prestigious companies on the day they graduate from college. They wait at least a year in their first position before even considering taking on a relationship, and when they do, it is with someone like them. They make enough money to be able to afford day-care. And their kids? They grow up to be just like mom and dad.

OK, this does not sound realistic, does it? Some of us mess it up real good and wish for a second chance. While working, and raising a family, we want to upgrade our education so we can get that $51,206 or more. If you are not lucky enough to be close to an educational institution, the internet provides some of the best opportunities to upgrade your educational level through something called an online distance education or an online education program.

An online distance education program is usually self paced so it is easy to fit into a tight schedule. Distance learning is pretty much self explanatory. It means learning from a distance. You can get your education from a university in Arizona even if you do not live in the state of Arizona on the internet today. This kind of education comes with all of the benefits of traditional on-campus education except the requirement to live on campus, socialize on campus, and eat at the campus dining rooms. It even comes with financial aid if you need it. Most of us that desire to upgrade our education level, especially later in life, really do not want the kind of activity level offered by on-campus life anyhow. An online distance education program is a real money saver where you can focus on your studies and get that elusive bump to your annual income that you have always deserved, even while raising a family.