Some things are just irksome. Tiny, piddly, little things. But they are often things that matter in a bigger way than is readily apparent.
I just finished posting on my work blog to provide guidance to institutions struggling with a very minor change in the data system USED uses to handle Title IV loan originations/disbursements. As of this spring, all students are required to have a valid CIP (Classification of Instructional Programs) Code for their program. Makes sense. However, what to do about students with an undeclared major? Certainly they should not be in a program, should they?
USED says yes. Further, they advise institutions to use 24.0102 General Studies (An undifferentiated program that includes instruction in the general arts, general science, or unstructured studies) because it comes equipped with Illustrative Examples of “Undeclared Major” and “Undecided.”
Fine. I have problems with the logic and whether or not this is accurate for all students to which the code might be applied, but okay, I can see how they got there.
How will the Department differentiate these students who are undeclared from students who are in actual General Studies degree programs? Virginia has 23 such programs at public and nonprofit colleges.
Um, they won’t and they can’t. (By the way, this conflict arises in Virginia, and apparently only in Virginia, in that we use 90.0000 to report undeclared students to us. Everyone keeps telling me that only Virginia institutions are having trouble with this.)
How good will the data be when some yahoo tries to build a Gainful Employment equivalent for all programs when the enrollment and default rates and who knows what other data all get confused for the actual programs and the undeclared students (who are not in a program, by definition).
At the base of the academic structure is the academic program. USED does not seem to understand to this. Nor do they appear to be thinking ahead about their Title IV data collection and how is
might will be used.