5 Things To Be Thankful For In the Higher Ed Industry
Many people tap into their holiday spirit right after Halloween, but not everyone recognizes Thanksgiving in the rush to get to Christmas. What better time is there to highlight our appreciation for what we are grateful for in our lives?
Although the higher education industry can be a roller coaster, there are some aspects of the industry that we can be thankful for, especially around this season!
Although the number of students enrolled in higher education hasn’t been as high as previous years, the number is steadily increasing, and it’s only projected to grow. While students and parents are focusing more on the return on college investment, affordability, and student loan debt, they are also recognizing the significance of higher education - the increasing number of admissions reflect the optimism of students that we can be grateful for.
Newly graduated high school students aren’t the only types interested in post-secondary education. A recent report by the Lumina Foundation found that 38% of undergrads are over the age of 25, and that number is expected to continue to grow through 2025. Though non-traditional students usually come with busy schedules between jobs, family, and financial obligation, we are certainly grateful for this new, ever-growing market to enter the student body!
U.S. College Enrollment Statistics for Public and Private College from 2009 to 2016 and Projections Up To 2028:
2. The Internet Will Play a Bigger Role In Learning
Though the internet is growing, this doesn’t mean that physically attending college will become obsolete, but it does mean that there is an opportunity for growth in terms of online education. Sure, the debates rage on about the need for a traditional college degree, but in the meantime, colleges will continue to offer more online learning programs for students.
“About 50 percent of all private colleges have some kind of online program,” says David L. Warren, President of the National Association of Independent College and Universities.
According to Warren, while the internet will increasingly play a larger role in how college students learn, schools will maintain a tight connection between the online world and their physical campuses and communities. Warren also foresees an increase in one-on-one learning and flexibility in course schedules.
Nonetheless, the internet is and will continue to be an inevitable aspect of higher education, and we can be grateful for the growing opportunities and use them as leverage for recruitment strategies!
The higher education industry and complacency are like oil and water. Initially, this may not seem like something to be grateful for in terms of higher ed.
The industry is changing because students have changed. The new student majority consists of non- or post-traditional students that juggle work or care-giving. Among these students are also those who commute, those who have received an uneven high school education, those who are the first in their family to attend college, and those who (in growing numbers) speak English as a second language.
Change almost always comes with the opportunity for growth, adaptation, and improvement, and that is always something to be thankful for!
During the next five years, students and families are expected to become more savvy shoppers, weighing attributes that historically haven’t been considered when deciding on what school to attend or what kinds of degrees to pursue.
“For 300-plus years, we evaluated the quality by the square footage of the library or what exclusivity it has,” says Carol D’Amico, executive vice president of National Engagement and Philanthropy with USA Funds, the non-profit focused on increasing access to higher education. “The quality of the consumer experience has not been part of the equation.”
D’Amico envisions a shift happening, where potential students will weigh college return on investment, including outcomes of previous students, job prospects upon graduation, and the overall college experience as opposed to a new dormitory or state-of-the-art gym. Similar to how people seek real-person reviews of restaurants, doctors, and other services, the same principle will be applied to shopping for college.
With students putting more and different thought into these decisions, we can expect that they will find a better fit for themselves, and they will be a better fit for institutions well. Sounds like a win-win to us!
We went over quite a few trends in the education industry, so it might seem a bit overwhelming. But fear not!
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