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Top 2011 College Bound Posts Span Access to Completion

Looking back at the most-read College Bound posts of the year, you can see a range of issues. From policymakers to parents to educators, you were drawn to stories about applications and access, completion and jobs.

So, a drum roll please.....The top 10 stories, as measured by hits on this blog, for 2011 were:

10. Common Application Essay Limited to 500 Words - Again. The move is a good way to force students to be more focused and disciplined in their writing, not to mention lightening the reading load for overworked admissions counselors.

9. Study Offers Insight Into What Helps Students Finish College. At two-year colleges, finances matter most; at four-year schools, its' all about preparation.

8. U.S. News Best Colleges List Unveiled Today. Love it or hate it, you read it.

7. College-Admissions Officers Check Out Students on Facebook. With the prevalence of social media in teen lives, it's not surprising that this post was a big draw. Bottom line: Be smart and clean up your home page during application season.

6. Top Counselor in America Opens Up Careers for At-Risk Kids. Nice to see honoring someone with one of the toughest jobs in education today was of interest to readers. Counselors are going to be under increasing pressure next year to ramp up helping all students become college- and career-ready.

5. Study Suggests U.S. Colleges Fail to Challenge Undergrads. The Social Science Research Council stirred up the higher education community with survey findings that many students didn't improve their critical thinking, reasoning and writing skills in college. The report also discovered deep writing assignments were lacking and students studied just 12 hours a week. A connection, perhaps? College reform and accountability will likely be one of the next big stories of 2012.

4. Report Shows Dual Enrollment Best When on College Campus. Makes sense that when students are really experiencing campus life, it's more meaningful. However, providing transportation in cash-strapped districts makes this shift a challenge.

3. Aspen Institute Ranks Top 120 Community Colleges. This new contest raised awareness of campuses with innovative initiatives to improve student success. The top prize was given to Valencia College in Orlando earlier this month.

2. New Study Tracks Lifetime Income Based on College Major. With the tremendous amount of money it takes today to finance a college degree, it's no wonder that many of you were curious about which path was the best investment. Easy as it is to point to the concrete salary numbers, it's important, too, that students choose a career that they will enjoy.

And the story that most of you clicked on to read in 2011....

1. Fewer Schools Deemed 'Dropout Factories' in New Report. News back in March from Building a Grad Nation that the number of low-performing schools fell by 6.4 percent between 2008 and 2009 was welcome. A nice, hopeful note to round out the year-in-review for College Bound.

Thanks for reading, commenting, and keeping me informed with good story ideas. It's a fascinating beat. With increased pressure on college completion, tight state and federal budgets for student aid, and discussion on higher ed reform, next year promises to be packed with more interesting news on the transition from high school to college and careers.


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