Monthly Archives: November 2017

The Ingredients of Early Success

A new study from Harvard University could substantially transform our understanding of what works in early childhood education in the United States, creating clearer avenues to bring effective practices and policies to scale.

The Early Learning Study at Harvard — which kicks off this spring and is set to last at least four and a half years, with plans for extension — will follow a demographically representative sample of three-year-olds from across Massachusetts, capturing their experiences in the actual settings in which they spend their time. Such a large-scale, population-based study would significantly enrich our current knowledge, which relies primarily on data from just a handful of small-scale studies, dating back to the 1960s and 1970s.

“When it comes to preschool and its benefits, most of what we know or think we know is based on decades-old data derived from one specific program or setting.”

The study will be conducted by the Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, under the direction of Associate ProfessorStephanie Jones and Professor Nonie Lesaux.

“When it comes to preschool and its benefits, most of what we know or think we know is based on decades-old data derived from one specific program or setting,” says Lesaux. “That makes it hard to assess its merits or how to capitalize on what works. This study will bring the science up to date and give us the knowledge we need to inform 21st-century policies and practices. It will widen the lens, producing findings that consider the experiences and settings of children from a variety of linguistic, socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and in settings that range from informal family care to center-based preschool.”

Among the key questions the study will address:

  • What are the learning outcomes and developmental gains we can expect from early learning environments? Which of these outcomes — vocabulary, higher-order thinking, and self-regulation, for example — rely particularly on high-quality early learning experiences?
  • What preK models work, and why? How can we identify and scale the effective ingredients?
  • What are the features of early schooling — types of instruction, or characteristics of teachers, for example — that sustain and multiply (or undermine) the benefits of preschool?

The researchers will focus on four major domains of child development: cognitive, social-emotional, language, and neuro-physiological. They’ll also assess the quality of the everyday settings in which children are learning and growing.

“The topic of ‘fade out’ — the idea that positive effects of high-quality early education don’t last — is one that continues to trigger debate, and the absence of robust science has prolonged that debate.”

With this approach — capturing the experiences of individual children in even hard-to-reach settings — the study will seek to answer the big questions facing the field, perhaps the most enduring of which is just how tangible and long lasting the benefits of preschool are. “The topic of ‘fade out’ — the idea that positive effects of high-quality early education don’t last — is one that continues to trigger debate, and the absence of robust science has prolonged that debate,” Jones says. That’s why questions persist about whether preschool is simply not enough to instill lasting benefits, or whether what schools are measuring simply isn’t capturing those benefits.

Instead of focusing on “whether preschool works,” the Early Learning Study will seek to move deeper, to explore what works, for whom, and under what conditions.

“Right now we don’t know enough about the key ingredients of high-quality early learning in 21st-century contexts,” says Jones. “We need to learn more about what has to be there, what can be scaled, and what can be tailored to fit the local context, without compromising on those outcomes.”

Tips to Accelerated Degree Can Save You Time (and Money)

What is an Accelerated Degree Program?

An accelerated degree program is exactly what it sounds like: this non-traditional course of study offers students the same degree in a particular field of study in a shortened period of time — as little as half when compared to conventional degrees. Available at a number of different academic levels, accelerated degree programs usually come with more stringent admissions requirements, including a minimum GPA, course credits, work experience, professional certification, and/or completion of a lower-level degree program.

In addition to bachelor’s degree programs, other popular accelerated degrees include nursing, business, law and medicine. For each, admissions requirements, course format, and completion time vary depending on the school. Additionally, many accelerated degree programs are dual in nature, meaning enrolled students can work simultaneously toward a bachelor’s and advanced degree. (This avenue may also allow accepted students to bypass graduate admissions tests, and the fees that go along with them.)

Four Reasons to Consider an Accelerated Degree

1. You’ll save time while learning as much.

While most conventional degree programs are structured according to semesters, accelerated degree programs typically utilize shorter periods, such as terms or quarters. Additionally, accelerated degree program courses usually run continuously without lengthy breaks in between terms. The result? Students can pack in the same amount of learning in a significantly shorter amount of time. Yes, this means the demands are high. But if your goal is to graduate and enter the workforce sooner, accelerated degree programs deliver in a uniquely exciting way.

2. You’ll enjoy numerous financial benefits.

It makes sense that the less time you spend in school, the less money you’ll spend on tuition. But how much will you pocket in an accelerated degree program? According to Investopedia, an undergraduate who trims six months off of his/her degree stands to save more than $15,000. Similar savings apply to upper-level degrees, as well.

Students enrolled in dual degree programs, meanwhile, may find that their undergraduate scholarship funding also covers their graduate level coursework.

But the financial benefits don’t end there. In entering the workforce with an accelerated degree, you minimize lost income and start earning soon — more likely than not with a lighter debt burden.

If you choose an overseas program, meanwhile, you may also enjoy a lower cost of living, depending on the country in which you choose to study. (An added benefit of doing an international accelerated degree? A global education will make you a more attractive job candidate in today’s borderless business environment.)

3. You’ll climb the ladder faster.

Not only does entering the workforce sooner mean you start earning earlier, but it also gives you an inside edge in today’s competitive job market. As Australia’s Bond University Director of International Student Recruitment Cheryl Jolliffe told US News & World Report, accelerated degree programs offer students a “career head start [that] puts them on a promotional fast track.”  According to Jolliffe many graduates of accelerated degree programs go on to land high-ranking administrative positions and even coveted partnership status within a decade of graduating.

Think all of this sounds too good to be true? You’re right: There is a catch. By nature, accelerated degree programs are inherently challenging. Not only do most programs have rigorous admissions requirements, but the expectations remain intense throughout the length of the program. (After all, students do get the same education in half the time. Did you really think it would be easy?) Given all of the advantages of accelerated degree programs, difficulty level isn’t reason enough to stay away. However, it is reason enough to make sure you’re fully motivated, committed and focused before deciding to pursue an accelerated degree.

Here A Landmark Year for U.S. International Studies

While the future of international studies in the U.S. may be uncertain due to the change in administration, new data from the Institution of International Education (IIE)’sOpen Doors 2016 report paints a positive picture of significant growth over the past year. Here’s a closer look at several key findings pertaining to inbound and outward bound study.

Record-Breaking Numbers

A staggering 1,043,839 international students enrolled in U.S. higher education institutions in the 2015/2016 academic year — up 7.1 percent from the previous year.  This represents the first time international student numbers surpassed one million, as well as the tenth consecutive year of growth. The economic and academic impacts are profound: Not only did international students add more than $35 billion to the country’s economy, but they also vastly enrich science, research and innovation.

While China still tops the list of sending countries, India had a bigger year in terms of growth. Other countries coming on strong — attributable to increased investments by their governments in outward-bound mobility, according to Open Doors — included Saudi Arabia (third on the list of leading countries of origin, behind China and India) and Kuwait.

Outward-Bound Mobility Also Increasing

Meanwhile, just over 313,000 American students received academic credit at international universities, according to the most recent data — a 2.9 percent increase from the prior year. While this is triple what it was two decades ago, the rate of growth has slowed.

Europe retained its title as top destination, with a third of American students choosing the UK, France and Spain. Italy and China were also popular, while Ireland, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Austria and Greece all made strong showings. Latin America and the Caribbean also gained ground,  with Costa Rica leading regional growth rates at 8 percent.

Also worth highlighting? A whopping 24 percent of American students abroad majored in STEM fields, followed by Business and Management and the Social Sciences, at 20 percent and 17 percent, respectively.

While these numbers are a start, there’s still room for growth, says IIE: “The fact that 90 percent of all American undergraduate students enrolled in U.S. higher education are graduating without an international experience means that there is still a long way to go.”