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The Future of Undergraduate Education Video Series

The TIAA Institute has partnered with the American Academy of Arts & Sciences on a series of videos highlighting how higher education institutions are addressing the recommendations of the Academy’s Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education. The Commission—co-chaired by Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., TIAA president and CEO, and Michael S. McPherson, member of TIAA’s Board of Overseers—set forth three national priorities: strengthen the student educational experience, improve completion rates and increase affordability. Each video explores innovative ways institutions are meeting these challenges.

Cornell University: Strengthening the student educational experience

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Cornell has revamped its instructional practices with the goal of helping students fail less and learn more.


Key Takeaways

  • Faculty are encouraged to use active learning techniques that get students involved and reinforce their knowledge of the material.
  • Teaching post docs and other experts work with faculty to enhance lecture content and teaching approaches.
  • Good feedback loops are critical for students to gauge their level of understanding and receive help as needed.
  • Assessments of student outcomes suggest these approaches help close preparation gaps among students.


Cincinatti State: Increasing affordability

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Cincinnati State’s Accelerate Program provides financial assistance and support services that help break down barriers to degree completion.

Key Takeaways

  • To ease the financial burden of attending college, CState Accelerate provides tuition assistance, book vouchers and financial incentives, such as gas and grocery cards.
  • Financial assistance alone is rarely enough. Students at high risk of dropping out also need ongoing mentoring and academic support.
  • Personal accountability is critical. To remain in the program, students must attend classes full time and participate in monthly tutoring and coaching sessions.
  • Success is a team effort. Liaisons throughout the college are committed to assuring the program achieves its goals.

Florida State University: Improving completion rates

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FSU’s 72% four-year graduation rate is among the highest in the nation and the highest by far in Florida. Here’s how they achieved it.


​​​​​​Key Takeaways

  • An enrollment management team, representing more than 20 offices from across campus, analyzes recruitment and retention data to flag critical issues.
  • Data and data analysis are crucial to pinpoint needs and prepare students to meet eventual career challenges.
  • Class sizes are kept small. Over 50% of classes have 19 or fewer students—in an institution with more than 42,000.
  • Faculty are trained to know the resources available to students, and they actively encourage students to seek out those resources.