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College Portrait: Voluntary System of AccountabilitySM
The VSA College Portrait is a leading college search tool for prospective students and valuable accountability tool for public institutions.
Students and their families can use the College Portrait to find a simple, straightforward presentation of comparable information that comes directly from public universities at no cost to the student or their family. Rising college costs require students and families to make careful, informed decisions about which institution is the “best fit.” Much is gained from helping them make sound choices using reliable information that can be compared across institutions.
The VSA also hosts webinars on topics such as use of the student success and progress rate; using multiple student learning outcomes to examine cognitive, civic, and diversity gains; and transparency in student learning outcomes reporting. Speakers include Staci Provezis, Project Manager, NILOA; Todd Bailey, Senior Institutional Planner, Office of Policy Analysis and Research, University of Wisconsin System and Shari Ellertson, Director of Policy Analysis and Planning, University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point; and John Pryor, Director of the Cooperative Institutional Research Program. For topics, dates, and access information, see www.voluntarysystem.org/index.cfm?page=LearningOutcomes. Recordings of prior webinars are also available on this page.
Participating institutions use the College Portrait to highlight common information prospective students and families seek in an easily understood format. College Portrait data elements include: admissions requirements, retention and graduation rates, campus community highlights, academic programs, safety, and cost of attendance, to name a few. In 2010, a College Affordability Estimator was added to help prospective students estimate their individual net cost to attend a specific university. The application is available at no additional charge for participating institutions and will meet the requirements of the Higher Education Opportunity Act.
Institutions and systems can use the College Portrait to meet accountability requirements from governing boards, state legislatures, state coordinating offices, and other outside groups, often reducing their burden and duplication of effort. The College Portrait can also be used during the accreditation process as evidence of student learning outcomes, institutional improvement, transparency, and commitment to the public good.
In 2011, the VSA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the USA Today Readership Program. Both agreed to display web links and provide visibility in newsletters targeed toward college students. The USA Today Readership Program encourages civic engagement and awareness in students and teachers throughout the education spectrum. To learn more about their Collegiate Readership Program, visit http://www.usatodayeducate.com/staging/index.php/collegiate-readership-program-overview.
The VSA is a joint project of APLU and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) in collaboration with the higher education community. VSA institutions represent more than half of all public four-year institutions, 66 percent of all APLU members, and 61 percent of APLU and AASCU's joint membership. VSA participating institutions enroll over 60 percent of undergraduate students attending public universities.
For more information on the VSA program and participation guidelines, visit the VSA website at www.voluntarysystem.org. Or contact Christine Keller, Teri Hinds, or Nathalie Argueta.
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