Streamlining the Financial and Management Reporting Systems for Higher Education Institutions

Often times, one of the duties of the Vice President of Finance for a higher education institution is to lead in its efforts in the streamlining of its financial and related management reporting systems, as well as assist in the evaluation of academic and administrative technology planning. This duty and the encompassing project related thereto will be a major undertaking. It will most likely require the formation of a special project team consisting of various departmental leaders at the institution who will provide much input before a final recommendation is made to implement a change to the financial and related management reporting systems.

A project report containing a timetable for implementation with due dates of completion for each phase of the project undertaking should be formally developed and approved, most likely by the President and Board of Trustees of the college or university. Because of the time and effort required for this undertaking, including a concerted effort and embracement by the Team Members required for a successful implementation, this project will most likely be completed over a number of months.

The following information will assist you in your endeavor to streamline the financial and related management reporting systems at your college or university. This information covers the various capabilities of software/IT solution based systems and products that have been developed and available through solution providers. Much of this information and the items noted should be considered in identifying appropriate software/IT solution providers who will assist you in meeting and serving the needs of the academic and administrative offices of the college or university.

In presenting this information, I am not advocating any specific software/IT solution provider or what route for a revitalized financial and management reporting system for a college or university for their specific undertaking. But, as more research and investigation is performed as a Team effort, I am sure you will be able to identify a very good provider, with a great history, with great platforms of products and resources, and someone who is very much up-to-date on meeting the needs and demands for your institution; not only today, but for years to come in assisting you in your desire to continue to grow and prosper.

The key steps and processes noted in this article will provide you with information for identifying the “types of features, resources and capabilities” you will want to consider in deciding what types of changes may be needed in order for you to streamline the financial and related management reporting systems at your institution. The following is the information for your consideration.

Identify Leading Software/IT Solution Providers

A potential list of candidates of leading providers of software, strategies, and services for higher education institutions will need to be compiled. You should identify providers that have been providing these services over an extended time period, with a proven record of providing solutions that have given colleges and universities the power to meet all of their academic and administrative needs.

You will identify software/IT solution providers that have developed and continue to improve and enhance their software, and combined with their experienced professionals, have a successful record of implementation, cost-effective operation, with a record of setting a clear path to future growth for colleges and universities across the nation.

Ideally, identifying providers who maintain a singular focus on higher education may give them a unique perspective on the industry, allowing them to plan for changes and ensuring their clients have the technology, knowledge, and strategies to be leaders.

The Software/IT Solution Providers Must Have Exceptional People

At every level of the company and across each department – from product development, to support, to consulting, to services, to their leadership team – the software/IT solution provider you choose to work with must have people in their organization who are truly committed to partnering with their clients to maximize their success.

Vibrant Client Community

You should identify software/IT solution providers who have a strong active client list. Their client list should represent a community that is one of the most active and engaged in the industry, demonstrating consistently high levels of customer involvement and satisfaction year after year. You will want to make sure they utilize customer advisory boards to help shape the future of their products and services.

Broad and Deep Product Portfolio

The software/IT solution providers you identify should have a family of integrated, proven, and innovative products that caters to the needs of academic and administrative offices across the entire campus and throughout the student lifecycle.

Strong Financial Position

The software/IT solution providers you identify should be on solid financial footing and have a strong balance sheet. They must take a long-term perspective, valuing customer satisfaction and enduring client relationships. You should make a determination, if it makes any difference to you, if the software/IT solution provider you select is a strong privately held company or a publicly held company. Something you will want to consider is that many publicly held companies chase quarterly earnings targets and change ownership frequently, and when this occurs there can be problems with continuity of services; whereas a long-term strong privately held company will most often continue to remain a stable partner with their clients and they can be relied upon to remain committed to their client’s best interests.

Cost of Ownership

In your search for the ideal software/IT solution provider, you should identify organizations that provide the most advanced, innovative, award-winning solutions for higher education, delivering exceptional value with the best total cost to benefit of ownership to the college or university.

Solution Suites

You should research, review and consider the following types of solution suites to have in place at your institution in your pursuit to streamline the financial and management reporting systems of the college or university.

  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems: You will want to have in place robust ERP systems that are built to meet the unique needs of your institution.
  • Continuing Education (CE) and Workforce Development (WD): You will want to consider having in place CE and WD systems to enhance business process efficiencies and institutional growth.
  • Recruitment: You will want to have in place a fully operational Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform designed to effectively manage recruitment.
  • Retention: Ideally, having a comprehensive retention solution with predictive modeling and a comprehensive alert system to maximize retention rates and facilitate intervention would be a useful tool and feature to have in use in the management reporting system at the college or university.
  • Advancement: You will want a solution to foster a vibrant community of supporters and champions for both major gifts and annual donations that the college or university depends on.
  • Learning Management System (LMS): You will want an integrated LMS to facilitate a collaborative learning environment.
  • Analytics: You will desire to have institutional intelligence solutions to help the institution measure, track, and report on key performance indicators to optimize performance.
  • User Experience: You will need powerful communication platforms and technologies including a Portal, Mobile, and Social offerings for the college or university.
  • Managed Services: You will want to consider the use of managed services to help the institution when you would need it the most – both on and off campus.

Software, Strategies & Services for Higher Education

The software/IT solution providers you identify in your search must offer technology solutions empowering colleges and universities of all shapes and sizes to meet the needs of their students, academic, and administrative departments – serving the entire constituent community.

The enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems must be flexible, customizable, fully-integrated, and designed to help drive higher performance across the campus and beyond. The ERPs must leverage robust functionality and simple controls so that the school operations can be streamlined and optimized from the back-end to the front-end of its operations. The ERPs you employ must give the performance insight you need to nurture critical relationships with constituents. Ideally, data access should be available anytime and anywhere for any authorized users. Integrated data will promote collaboration, user satisfaction, and efficiencies through-out the college or university. Most likely you will be focused on the following areas in streamlining the financial and related management reporting systems:

  • Admissions. Streamlining, simplifying, and automating the admissions processes, so that the institution can keep their focus on identifying and recruiting the best candidates for the institution.
  • Enrollment. Being able to organize workflow and communication with the right candidates at the right time and to get them ready for a successful educational experience.
  • Financial Aid. Providing prospects and students with comprehensive financial aid information, giving each the broadest consideration that is possible.
  • Academic. Being able to budget, project, and plan programs and resources saving the institution time and money, while driving a higher probability that each student will be able to complete his/her area of study on time.
  • Student Services. Having the ability to manage a broad range of student records, student activity, student profiles, and student health information; providing the highest quality of student life.
  • Finance. Controlling all aspects of the institution’s financial operations, including student billing, with accurate timely data – so the right business decisions can be made.
  • Human Resources. Being able to manage all components, including employee compensation, and having the ability to share data with departments across the campus.
  • Advancement. Streamlining and simplifying management of campaign and donor activity for both major gifts and annual donations that the college or university depends on.

Continuing Education & Workforce Development

You will need to have a software/IT platform for continuing education that is designed to help the institution streamline, simplify, and optimize the everyday tasks of operating a profitable continuing education and workforce development program, including:

  • Online registration
  • Course management
  • Student billing
  • Business management

You will want a platform that is easily deployed that can be integrated with any ERP system or can be used as a stand-alone solution.

Analytics

You will want to ensure you are always able to have readily available reliable data so you can make better decisions. The software solution should provide a full range of options that can revolutionize the way you manage your operations and develop strategy.

You will want the availability of analytics that will provide configurable dashboards, alerts, reports, and analytics, so the college or university can gain the insights needed to succeed across all aspects of their operations.

A Need for Information That Covers the Complete Student’s Life Cycle

Recruitment

You will want a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform that will allow the college or university to spend less time on administrative tasks and more time engaging with their prospective students and their families. It must be a recruitment tool that keeps the institution focused on students – and on track with enrollment goals. The platform should contain features such as:

  • Manage lists.
  • Produce and send personal communications.
  • Monitor progress.
  • Capture and update information.
  • Create and manage events.
  • Have the ability to manage recruitment efforts from either at your desk or on the road.

Retention

Having the ability to utilize predictive modeling techniques to assist the college or university in identifying students who need intervention, while there’s still time to turn them around would be a tool to have in streamlining the management system. Having a system in place that will automatically issue an alert through the workflow process when an attrition risk factor appears on a student’s profile, thereby alerting the relevant administrators that intervention is required, would no doubt be an excellent retention tool to assist the college or university’s students in succeeding. Some of the benefits of having this capability would be:

  • Improve student retention rates.
  • Spend less time identifying at-risk students.
  • Intervene earlier to improve student success.
  • Implement the right intervention strategies at the right time.
  • Satisfy parent and student expectations for educational support.

Advancement

Having a web-based fundraising solution that’s flexible, easy, and designed to help the institution meet their campaign goals can streamline and simplify management of campaign and donor activity for both major gifts and the annual donations that the college or university depends on. It should be able to assist everyone in the fundraising team – from administrators to managers and solicitors; so everyone can work smarter and more efficiently. It should be able to be used as a stand-alone solution or as part of an ERP solution to:

  • Improve engagement by reaching constituents in ways that are convenient for and familiar to them.
  • Strengthen constituent affinity with online communities and events.
  • Develop and leverage key relationships with complete constituent profiles.
  • Increase giving with segmented, targeted campaigns and personalized communications.
  • Manage the advancement team and fundraising efforts with individual and overall progress indicators.
  • Analyze results and plan for the future with intuitive business intelligence tools and comprehensive data.

eLearning Tools

With the deployment of eLearning tools, the instructors at the college or university will have the ability to offer more dynamic, engaging learning environments and develop creative learning spaces that engross the students. Having a Learning Management System (LMS) that integrates completely with the administrative system will provide the institution a seamless data exchange and up-to-the-minute information. Some of the benefits of having this type of Learning Management System in place will be:

  • Provide students the power to access their courses through any mobile device.
  • Satisfy the teaching and learning demands of the faculty and students with robust functionality.
  • Incorporate digital learning objects from a variety of sources into the course materials.
  • Integrate all of the learning systems.
  • Obtain a low total cost of ownership by the university combined with simple eployment.

Online Connectivity

Because students today are on the move – and having a desire to attend a school that provides them the convenience of online and mobile applications that will keep up, you will want to work with a software/IT solution provider that can deliver portal, mobile, and social media solutions that will keep users engaged with the institution throughout the entire student life cycle. Some of the benefits of portal, mobile, and social media solutions would be:

  • Portal. Providing the school community the information they need when they need it, from any location, while safeguarding confidential information.
  • Mobile. Offering secure, reliable mobile access to the college or university data and systems in the sophisticated the environment today’s students prefer, i.e., smart phones and other mobile devices.
  • Social. Being able to connect with the student communities where they live: on Facebook. Partnering with a software/IT solutions provider that has this feature developed and in place for use with the availability of its platform of products will simplify the process of building an online campus community via Facebook.

Also, having Customer Relationship Management (CRM) components available for use in a portal solution should allow you the opportunity to tailor user access to key information based on different user roles, such as:

  • Admissions Officer
  • Advancement Officer
  • Candidate
  • Student
  • Parent
  • Faculty
  • Staff
  • Constituent

Using a Single Vendor as the Software/IT Solutions Provider

As part of your desire to streamline your financial and related management reporting systems you will want to work with a technology partner providing the most innovative and comprehensive software suite available. This would probably be best if the services are provided from a single vendor who will also provide strategic and operational services to maximize the return on this technology investment by the college or university.

A Team of Experts to Assist the Institution in this Endeavor

You will want to make sure the software/IT solutions provider has the capability at every level of their company and across each of their departments – from product development, to support, to consulting, to services, to their leadership team that are a Team of Experts whose individuals are committed to working with the college or university to maximize their success. This would cover all areas of the project, such as:

  • Implementation. Their services should be designed to meet the unique needs of the institution and the people who use the college or university’s technology. They should have a proven track record of having on time and on budget implementations.
  • Training. They should offer hundreds of learning opportunities each year in a variety of formats, from on-site training classes to self-paced courses the college or university can take anytime and anywhere to help them use their products efficiently and effectively.
  • Support. They should have expert customer support personnel who are dedicated to finding answers and solving problems. They should have a record of resolving almost all inquiries within 24 hours.
  • Managed Services. They should be able to deliver the IT expertise the institution needs and comprehensive services they can shape to meet the college or university’s goals – whether you would need day-to-day support, project management, total network management, or managing your technology for future growth.
  • Executive Services. They should have experienced consultants who will work with you to create a technology roadmap to align resources with your priorities and meet your mission and critical goals.

An Actively Engaged Client Community

The software/IT solutions provider should have a client community that is one of the most actively engaged in the industry, demonstrating consistently high levels of customer involvement and satisfaction year after year. Ideally, they should utilize Customer Advisory Boards that help shape the future of their products and services, and encourage and support a host of opportunities for interaction and collaboration, such as Regional User Groups, Annual Meetings, Advisory Groups, etc.

Cloud/SaaS

Cloud computing is a way to increase capacity or add capabilities without investing in a new infrastructure, training new personnel, or licensing new software.

Software as a service (SaaS), sometimes referred to as “on-demand software” is a software delivery model in which software and associated data are centrally hosted on the cloud. SaaS is typically accessed by users using a web browser. SaaS has become a common delivery model for many business applications, including Office & Messaging software, Management software, CAD software, Development software, Virtualization, accounting, collaboration, customer relationship management (CRM), management information systems (MIS), enterprise resource planning (ERP), invoicing, human resource management (HRM), content management (CM) and service desk management. SaaS has been incorporated into the strategy of all leading enterprise software companies. One of the biggest selling points for these companies is the potential to reduce IT support costs by outsourcing hardware and software maintenance and support to the SaaS provider.

According to Thomas McHall of the Gartner Group, it was estimated SaaS sales in 2010 reached $10 billion, and were projected to increase to $12.1 billion in 2011, up 20.7% from 2010. The Gartner Group estimates that SaaS revenue will be more than double its 2010 numbers by 2015 and reach a projected $21.3 billion.

Whether you are looking to leverage the cloud for operational efficiency, cost savings, or business continuity, you should to look to a software/IT provider that has a solution to ensure your success. Ultimately, you should choose a hosted application that fits your needs best in one of the following:

  • Cloud Hosted Applications. For scalable and flexible application access.
  • Fully Managed Infrastructure and Applications. For cloud-based hosting of the institution’s applications with or without the expertise of the software/IT solutions provider’s team of managed-infrastructure specialists.
  • Virtual Infrastructure Hosting. For scalable, reliable, and secure disaster recovery and business continuity.

Conclusion

On the ideal digital campus, every administrative and academic office matches the technological sophistication of its socially-networked students. The digital campus leverages innovative technology to operate at optimal efficiency and the lowest possible cost, resulting in the highest possible return on investment. The digital campus leverages the most effective tools available, including software and services, to achieve its critical goals for enrollment, retention, and advancement. And, at every initiative, the digital campus ensures that its technology investment is aligned with its institutional mission and goals. For colleges and universities today, the digital campus is a superb model for achieving institutional success in our new century.

How Student Loans Are Workable for Higher Education

Studying in a global university is an uphill task. With increasing admissions and other expenses, parents cannot guarantee the finance for their child’s higher education. Securing admission under this scenario requires money and time management too. The range of expenses include admission costs, hostel rent books and the tuition fee. Parents dream of a successful career, and therefore, nothing should come in way of pursuing the studies. Parents help to a great extent money wise, but even they have their limits. In this situation, students are offered an opportunity to take care of their expenses in the form of short term student loans. Availing the loan is fairly simple. A loan benefits by providing the funds to take care of their cost of education.

Advantage of the Student Loan

The loan is important to anyone looking forward to secure finance for their higher education. The acquired funds have capability of helping the students for further education. There are a few advantages to these loans listed here that will help the borrower make a sensible decision:

Minimal Interest Rates

Before applying for any type of loan, people are cautious about the interest rates. Nobody wants to burden themselves with whopping interest rates that would result in non-repayment of the loan amount. Student loans are suggested by many brokers on competitive APRs and manageable terms of repayment. The borrowers have an option to consider all the available offers through a comprehensive online research and compare the prices. Only after proper research, the customer should approach the regulated broker.

Flexible terms of repayment

Before countersigning the documents, applicant must clearly understand the terms and conditions that are being laid down. The intermediary will explain them to the borrower, if he is unable to understand. The repayment provisions are kept trouble-free. The payment amount is decided keeping in view the financial condition of the applicant. Sufficient time is provided to repay the borrowed money. Paying off the loan is reflected on the credit report, finally improving the credit score and establishing the credibility.

No requirement of guarantor

When the individual applies for the loans online, there is no need to provide the guarantor. Adviser makes sure, the lender disburse the funds without putting forth the condition of arranging the guarantor. This saves a lot of time, as you do not need to search for the person, to act as your guarantor and support your application.

Student loans not only serve the purpose of providing quick funds for the education. These types of loans also assist in creating a positive credit history. The funds are not provided out for free. The short term student loans must be repaid when the borrower completes his or her education. Adequate time is provided for the payback.

Is Critical Thinking Overrated or Under-Utilized in Higher Education?

Critical thinking is listed as a desired skill or preferred outcome within many higher education courses. It is something that students are expected to demonstrate through their involvement in the class and learning activities. It may be listed in a rubric and/or stated in the course syllabus, depending upon the requirements of the program or the school itself. There may be varying degrees as to how it is demonstrated and then evaluated, ranging from occasionally to always within a rubric description. It is a common practice to provide students with the course rubrics at the start of class; however, the question becomes: Do students usually know what critical thinking means? Do instructors or schools provide a standard definition?

Additional questions that arise include: Do instructors understand the meaning of critical thinking and are they provided with an explanation by the school? These are questions that I sought to answer and I spent over two years talking to instructors and students about this topic. There is information that is readily available, such as websites devoted to critical thinking and a few books about this topic, and there are classes that spend an entire term examining it; however, what does the average student and instructor know about this topic? How is it utilized in classes if it is stated in a rubric? What I wanted to learn is whether or not critical thinking is overrated (which means it is not actively utilized in classes and is only a catchphrase) or is it underutilized (which means it holds greater potential than is recognized now) in higher education classes.

Instructor Perspective

My perspective is primarily based on my work in the field of distance-learning as an online educator and faculty development specialist, which has included the role of online faculty peer reviewer. I have reviewed hundreds of online classes and discussed critical thinking with hundreds of online faculty. What I’ve learned is that the average instructor may have a general knowledge about critical thinking and what it means; however, faculty generally do not provide an explanation for students beyond what is stated in the course rubric. I did not observe it as an active discussion or explained through additional instructional posts or supplemental information, and I also didn’t observe detailed notes about it within the feedback provided.

What do instructors generally know about critical thinking? For those who have conducted some research they will find definitions that are related to logic and reasoning. However, the usual go-to definition or explanation is Bloom’s taxonomy and this provides levels of cognition that can help instructors recognize when a state of critical thinking has been attained. What is unclear is whether or not a one-time occurrence indicates that students know how to use the skill on a regular basis. What are instructors taught by the schools? They are usually told to use questioning techniques and specifically Socratic questioning by a few schools. What I’ve observed is that even when questions are used that doesn’t necessarily mean a follow-up reply by students will demonstrate use of this skill.

Student Perspective

When students were asked to define what critical thinking means, the following is a list of the most common answers:

  • Thinking outside of the box
  • Thinking harder about the topic
  • Problem-solving
  • An ability to think independently
  • Weighing options, the pros and cons
  • Being rational and avoiding emotions
  • Making decisions, such as going to the grocery store and deciding on meal options
  • Becoming curious, creative, and open-minded
  • Learning through trial and error
  • Knowing what to do in life threatening situations
  • Making intelligent decisions
  • Collaborating with others to reach a consensus

This is only a partial list of the responses from students, and these were undergraduate and graduate students. After reviewing this list becomes clear that without a standard definition of critical thinking, students may not fully understand what is expected when they see it listed in a course rubric. It can also explain why it is difficult to evaluate this as a skill for an instructor and why students may come up short in their evaluation. What I’ve found is that students rarely conducted their own research about this subject and if they did they still weren’t sure if their definition was matched to their instructor’s definition, how it applies to their class and learning activities, or how to meet the requirement as listed in the rubric.

Logical Perspective

I’ve reviewed many of the available online resources to ascertain what instructors and students might read about critical thinking and it was often related to the use of logic and reasoning. The same is true for an online class I’ve taught that was six weeks in length and combined critical thinking with creative thinking. The logical perspective explained in the course materials involved looking for facts instead of opinions, evaluating arguments, examining premises, developing a logical or rational conclusion, and learning about potential fallacies. What this did was to take a subject that students were already unclear about and make it even more complex and challenging to apply directly to their classwork. Students generally struggled throughout the entire course and by the time it concluded there was little improvement in their ability to demonstrate the use of this skill.

Cognitive Perspective

Bloom’s taxonomy is referenced frequently by faculty and this taxonomy provides a range of cognitive or mental functions that begin with lower order thinking and progress to higher order thinking. On the lower end is the ability to recall information, which is usually held in short term memory and quickly discarded. As higher cognitive functions are engaged a student may be able to apply, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information. There are action verbs that are generally associated with each level and this is helpful for the development of course objectives. The challenge for instructors is making a determination of how to explain cognitive functions to students so that they understand what it means to demonstrate critical thinking. For example, how does a student know when to analyze or synthesize information in a discussion post or written assignment? Do they know when they have achieved development of this skill? Does answering an instructor’s question ensure they have reached a higher cognitive state? How many times do they need to demonstrate use of this skill to believe they have mastered its use? This is the challenge for educators; the uncertainty of the use of this skill and how to accurately assess it.

A New Perspective

What I propose is the use of a simpler model that explains how the mind functions or operates, which can provide a uniform description for instructors and students. As a starting point, the mind is always active and thinking is a natural process. A helpful way to understand how the mind performs is to separate thinking into three specific types, which will explain why critical thinking requires practice to learn before it can be actively used as a skill. The most basic type is simply called thinking or the automatic thought processes. This occurs naturally and includes thoughts about the current environment, along with thoughts that are based upon physical needs, emotions, or external stimuli. It also consists of self-talk, internalized dialogue, superficial thoughts, established thought patterns, habits of thinking, and existing mental structures. Automatic thinking also occurs as data is acquired through the five senses, when the mind relies upon perceptual filters to interpret the information received.

The next type is active thinking and this occurs when a person become consciously aware of their thought processes or while the mind is intentionally processing information. As an example, consider advertising messages. If an advertisement is noticed the mind would transition from automatic thinking to active or conscious thinking and awareness. Active thinking also includes reading, writing, speaking, stating opinions, and problem solving through the use of informal logic. For example, if a financial analysis is needed it would require taking numbers and putting them into a format or equation to be calculated, categorized, manipulated, or any other form of computation. Active thinking is often what students believe critical thinking consists of when they state it is a matter of “thinking hard” about a topic or subject. They are consciously aware of the topic and recalling the knowledge they currently possess about it.

The third type of thinking is critical thinking, which is not automatic and must be activated. It can be activated for a specific purpose and learned to be utilized as a skill. Students can trigger it when they need to work with more than their existing knowledge, beliefs, and opinions. It can also be activated through something unexpected, unknown, or unique. More importantly, critical thinking is done with a purpose. For example, when a student needs to research a topic and the subject is presently unknown to them. Instead of filling their paper with direct quotes they can question the information received in an attempt to find answers. It can also enhance problem-solving when a student needs an answer they cannot arrive at on their own. When students write papers they can provide more of their analysis and less from their sources because they have examined evidence and re-examined their beliefs or assumptions.

Transformative Perspective

Critical thinking has the potential to transform every aspects of a student’s performance, from discussion question responses to written assignments. Students first learn to work with their accumulated knowledge, beliefs, and opinions. That is how they develop an initial response and for many students that also becomes their final answer. But educators want students to move beyond this active form of thinking and demonstrate that learning has occurred. It is easy to ask students to demonstrate critical thinking but even more challenging to develop a mental model for them to follow and that means it must be prompted so that students watch it in action and can then emulate the process. Thinking becomes critical when students provide more than a superficial or cursory response, and in place of opinions they develop well-documented and well-research position statements and analyses.

Critical thinking is not a natural process although there are times when it is possible for adults to have a period of reflection when they are prompted by unplanned or unexpected changes. Thinking also becomes critical when students no longer rely upon perceptual filters to determine what is accepted as true and correct, with a willingness to evaluate beliefs and change when they find compelling evidence. Critical thinking can be most effectively taught through the use of a detailed explanation, time to practice what is being learned, and direct application of the skill to issues and problems, which means that any time this skill is listed as a requirement for a course, students need a standard definition and an opportunity to practice it. I do not believe that critical thinking is overrated as it is transformative in nature; however, what I’ve observed in the field of distance learning is that it is under-utilized because of a lack of a uniform method of explaining it and this results in a missed opportunity for learning in higher education classes.

Tips To Choose Students For Direct Entry Into Schools Of Higher Education

This is a common situation that you have to face. Every year, you have to select from a large group of 16-year olds, a few who automatically qualify to join institutions of higher education even before the final examinations.

This poses a big dilemma when these students have almost identical academic results and extra-curricular activities.

Are there other ways of trying to separate these teenage students and choose the most suitable to enter into the respective educational faculties?

Here are some tips that you should seriously consider.

Philosophical Questions

Firstly, you can create some philosophical or ethical questions to slowly see their own personal stand and bias. The coming new workplace will have a big portion of robotics and automation. Thus it is crucial to see if your candidates are not merely book-smart but am also ready to face the new realities of life.

Video Resume

You can instruct them to make a minute presentation describing their strengths and why they fit a particular faculty. This one-minute presentation can follow the style of a video resume and should have clear dialogue and accurate subtitles to allow the assessor to get a first impression.

Referees

You can also contact the referees of these candidates and find out why they want to recommend these students to direct-entry into higher education. It is up to your own experience to discover if these referees merely associate themselves with these candidates just to give blind support but may not know have enough reasons for their support

Extra-curricular Activities

You may have to create an internal system of grading your potential candidates in terms of the results of their chosen extra-curricular activities. For example, a higher grading can be assigned if the candidates have proven leadership responsibilities.

Open-ended Questions

You can give all final-round candidates some open-ended questions and ask them to provide their best replies and analysis to the given case studies. Do ensure that you allocate sufficient time for these activities.

Future Thoughts

Pose a question about where their chosen industries will be headed to in the next few years. This is crucial because you do not want a chosen candidate to switch faculties on a whim. Normally, a good candidate will make an effort to read more about the new chosen path.

Lego

The truth of the matter is this. Lego blocks are very good for any candidate to highlight what is in his mind. The Lego pieces are of different colours and sizes and are only constrained by the deep recesses of the candidate’s imagination.

Team building exercise and observation

You can also follow-up by allowing each final candidate to join a team of senior students who are already in the higher educational institutions. Break them into different groups and give them group projects to do. Remember to delegate the group presentation to be done by each candidate and then allow the other group members to evaluate them. This is very crucial because their peers are very good judges of competency and maturity.

Best of luck for your search.

Exemplary Non-Profit and Higher Education Leadership – Blenda Wilson, PhD

Retired President, Nellie Mae Educational Foundation

This article is part of groundbreaking leadership research has received extensive endorsements and enthusiastic reviews from well-known prominent business, political, and academic leaders who either participated in the study or reviewed the research findings. A total of sixteen leaders were interviewed on the subject of “Leadership and Overcoming Adversity.”

Dr. Wilson overcame multiple adversities. These included significant race, gender, and age discrimination. Blenda’s first experience with major discrimination was during her high school years in New Jersey. Though Blenda was in the National Honor Society, Wilson’s high school guidance counselor totally refused to discuss or help Blenda get into a college. Blenda’s comment was “Actually, she told me to ‘take a typing class’… then said, ‘You’re nice looking, and you might be able to become a secretary. ‘”

Wilson just ignored the “mean” counselor and she directly contacted several colleges for admission and scholarship information. Wilson was accepted to all of the colleges she applied to, including major prestigious universities, such as the “Seven Sisters.” However, major colleges only offered one-year scholarships with a series of renewals. Blenda wanted to get a full four-year scholarship to ensure that she could complete her college education. Cedar Crest College guaranteed Blenda four years of tuition scholarship money, a travel budget and a job. So, Blenda went to Cedar Crest College and got her degree.

She did not allow anything to stop her from receiving her education. After Blenda graduated from Cedar Crest College she earned a Master’s degree in Education from Seton Hall then completed a Ph.D. in Higher Education from Boston College.

Before she earned her Ph.D. and launched her higher educational leadership career, Blenda experienced gender and age discrimination from African American males, both from within her organization and the local community. Though Wilson was clearly more qualified and had more education than her male competition many people were vocal in their opposition to her being appointed as the Executive Director of the Middlesex County Economic Opportunity Corporation and the Head Start Program. Blenda Wilson pointed out, “The African American men in the community were upset that a woman would get this key position… One of the criteria was that they wanted someone with a Master’s degree. I had one. None of the African American men did.” Blenda experienced age, and gender discrimination and prejudice from from black men and white people.

Blenda Wilson shared that taking a leave from her local high school teaching position to become the Executive Director of the Middlesex County Economic Opportunity Corporation, “actually changed my life. I started doing the Head Start program… This was all in the 1960s, with the “War on Poverty,” the Office of Economic Opportunity. I [Wilson] was going to change the world.”

In 1969, after earning her Ph.D., Dr. Wilson began her career in higher education administration at Rutgers University. Then, from 1972 to 1982 Blenda “was youngest Senior Associate Dean in the Graduate School of Education at Harvard,” where, once again, she encountered age discrimination.

Dr. Blenda Wilson was the First Vice President for Effective Sector Management at Independent Sector (1982 to 1984). Independent Sector is a nonpartisan coalition of approximately 600 organizations that lead, strengthen, and mobilize charitable communities.

While serving in the governor’s cabinet as Executive Director of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, she created a plan (that became law in 1985) advocating for more efficiently organizing higher education within the state.

Dr Wilson was the first woman to head a four-year higher education institution in the state of Michigan becoming Chancellor of the University of Michigan’s Dearborn campus from 1988 to 1992. Wilson was widely recognized for her outreach to Dearborn’s Arab-American community and Detroit’s African-American community.

During Dr. Wilson’s tenure as president of California State University, Northridge, from 1992 to 1999, Dr. Wilson enacted a number of strategic plans to better serve the populations of the San Fernando Valley. Wilson also led the University in the enormous task of rebuilding of the California State University after the devastating 1994 Northridge earthquake.

Dr. Blenda Wilson was a former Chair of the prestigious American Association of Higher Education. Wilson was the first woman to Chair the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and was Deputy Chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston where she served on the Board of Directors from 2003 to 2006. Dr. Wilson has served on the Board of Directors of numerous non-profit corporations such as the Getty Museum, The College Board, and has recently served as the interim President of her undergraduate Alma Mater, Cedar Crest College.

Dr. Wilson served as the first President and Chief Executive Officer of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation from 1999 to 2006. The Nellie Mae Education Foundation, established in 1998, is New England’s largest public charity dedicated to improving academic achievement for underserved communities. During her seven-year tenure Dr. Blenda Wilson was a very successful CEO at the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.

Under Dr. Wilson’s leadership, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation (NMEF) distributed more than $80 million in grants to various educational institutions and to non-profit organizations to improve the access to college for deserving students. The NMEF was established to promote accessibility, quality, and effectiveness in education from preschool through postsecondary levels, especially for under-served populations. The Nellie Mae Education Foundation has net assets of approximately $400 million, making it one of the largest foundations in New England, and the largest focused exclusively on improving higher education.

Dr. Wilson has received honorary doctorate degrees from more than 25 colleges and universities, including Cedar Crest College, Rutgers, the University of Massachusetts, Brandeis University and Boston College. Wilson has served on the boards of trustees of Boston College and Union Theological Seminary, the board of directors of the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, the board of directors of Higher Education Resource Services, and the boards of Boston’s “After School and Beyond,” Boston College, and Federated Dorchester Neighborhood Houses. Wilson currently serves on the Board of Directors of Medco Health Solutions.

Dr. Blenda Wilson has an impressive lifetime track record of effectively dealing with complicated issues of education policy. Dr. Blenda Wilson still takes time out of her busy schedule to mentor and coach select prospective female leaders.

The Dr. Blenda Wilson story shares a lifetime struggle against adversity, especially age, race, and gender discrimination, and is an excellent example of a prominent successful leader who overcame adversity!