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Part II: The Nature of 2020 Enrollment Declines and What Can Be Done About Them By George Lorenzo It’s difficult to accurately describe what the near future of higher education really looks like. All the recent articles related to enrollment trends seem to be pointing to more financial strife and job layoffs, but not across the board at all institutions. Here’s a synthesis of what seems to be going on and what some educators are doing about enrollment declines. Clearinghouse Data The National Clearinghouse’s latest enrollment information is a good place to start. For an overview of Clearinghouse data, as well as other information resources on enrollment trends, see Education Futurist Bryan Alexander’s recent blog post on October 15 titled College and university enrollment fell even more steeply this fall, continuing a long term trend. One of the most important data points from the Clearinghouse is that “First time students are by far the biggest decline of any student group from last year (-16.1% nationwide and -22.7% at community colleges,” Alexander writes. Here are some additional points Alexander cites in his blog post: Community college students face some of the biggest challenges because a relatively large portion of them face challenges related to technology access during a time when technology access has been more vitally important than ever. For profit, four-year institutions are running 3% higher enrollments than last year’s fall term. Certain enrollment demographics are overall trending downward, with a 13.7% drop in undergraduate enrollments and a 7.6% drop in international graduate enrollments. Indigenous students showed steepest undergraduate student declines at 10.7%, while Blacks were at a 7.9% decline, Whites at a 7.6% decrease, Hispanics dropped by 6.1%, and Asians by 4.0%. Executive Director of the Clearinghouse Doug Shapiro, from an Inside Higher Ed article on enrollment trends, said “These declines are so large and so fast, and they’re so concentrated on first-year students who may never make it back. If there’s a rebound where they all come back in the spring – I don’t see that happening – I think many of these students will never make it back.” Alexander explains how enrollment declines are really nothing new: “The historical fact is that America grew higher education enrollment for a generation, from 1980 to 2012. That was a great achievement. But 2012 was the peak, and we’ve fallen away from it every year – every semester, in fact.” Decline in FAFSAs In another enrollment-related article, dated May 6, 2020, Bill DeBaun, Director of Data and Evaluation, National College Attainment Network, reported that “Nearly 250,000 fewer returning students from the lowest-income backgrounds have renewed their FAFSA for the 2020-21 cycle, and FAFSA renewals overall are down nearly 5% (more than 350,000 students) compared to last year.” Online versus On-campus For another point of view, see Phil Hill’s blog “PhilOnEdTech.” In The Complexities of Online Education and Fall 2020 Enrollment Data, Hill writes about two types of students, those who prefer online education and those who don’t. He notes that while enrollments in online courses have been increasing for decades, “the majority still want fully on-campus options, perhaps augmented with a few online courses here and there.” However, both for-profit and public institutions that are known as Primarily Online Institutions (POI) becuase they have a long history of offering online courses, such as the University of Phoenix, Walden University, Penn State World Campus, Purdue Global, etc., are showing increased enrollments. Arizona State University (ASU) is another case in point. Both its online and on-campus enrollment numbers continue to increase, “in terms of their long-term growth,” even though the number of first-year on-campus students declined in 2020. Quoting from an August 20, 2020 ASU article headlined 'Forward momentum': ASU launches fall semester with multiple ways to learn, Hill posts the following: “Despite historic challenges facing colleges and universities across the country because of COVID-19, ASU’s fall semester will kick off with more than 127,500 new and returning students, a 7.6% increase over fall 2019. Of that total, over 53,000 are fully online students, ASU Online’s largest fall enrollment to date.” Some Strategies So, what is higher education doing about all this? In How 2- and 4-year colleges can boost spring enrollment, EducationDive reporter Natalie Schwartz writes that “Higher ed experts suspect this trend could be driven in part by low-income students, who may lack funds to attend college during the pandemic. Student-parents also are struggling as they balance their education with caring for their children.” She adds that community colleges might consider marketing strategies that promote their typically lower costs and flexible class times, especially in comparison to one of their primary competitors for enrollments, which are for-profit colleges. [For example, University of Phoenix is offering $1 million in scholarships.] Regarding ideas to boost enrollments at four-year institutions, it is suggested in the article that four-year colleges “should focus on improving transfer pathways [a perennial problem], including by telling community college students upfront how many of their credits will transfer,” as well as overall easing transfer pathways for students who have switched schools to be closer to home due to the pandemic. Melissa Navarro and Taseen Shamim, in an April 30, 2020, Center for American Progress article write that many colleges, in an effort to support current and potentially new students, have extended tuition deposit deadlines, waived enrollment fees, and suspended SAT and ACT test score admission requirements. They also suggest that institutions “consider maintaining those practices in a post- pandemic world.” In the private, non-profit 4-year institution sector, full-time student enrollment drops increased by 1%, according to Clearinghouse data. As noted in a recent Education Dive article, an increasing number of private colleges are reducing tuition rates by 25% to 50% to make up the difference. EdPath Reporting on Enrollment in 2016 In How Community Colleges Maintain Sustainable Enrollment Growth through Collaborations with Outside Entities, written and published by EdPath in late 2016, we presented what 10 community colleges are doing of a collaborative nature with outside entities, such as other institutions, high schools, corporations, and organizations to help boost enrollment figures. Pretty much all of the suggestions in this report can apply to four-year institutions as well. And everything can be considered applicable to today’s enrollment issues. In the Trends & Issues section of this report, strategies to boost enrollments are explained under the following topics: marketing, dual enrollments/early college high school, workforce development, developmental education, leveraging services, and thinking big. This report concludes with the following statement: Community colleges continue to have the wherewithal to succeed at getting students through to completion and jobs, and, in the process, maintain solid enrollment numbers. Going back to 1995 with the publication of “The Company We Keep” by the American Association of Community Colleges, the message has always been that “collaboration has proven to be a far more effective approach than mutually exclusive competition in promoting the mission and overall ideals of community colleges.” In short, institutions cannot succeed by operating in silos or only within small pockets of innovation. The requisite collaborations with outside entities are what ultimately bring about innovative and successful solutions that keep the doors open at our nation’s community colleges for any student, young, old and in-between, to pursue and thrive. Part I: Is There A Bigger Enrollment Crises In Higher Ed Than We Currently Realize?
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© Copyright 2020/Lorenzo Associates, Inc.
EDUCATIONALPathways
Part II: The Nature of 2020 Enrollment Declines and What Can Be Done About Them by George Lorenzo It’s difficult to accurately describe what the near future of higher education really looks like. All the recent articles related to enrollment trends seem to be pointing to more financial strife and job layoffs, but not across the board at all institutions. Here’s a synthesis of what seems to be going on and what some educators are doing about enrollment declines. Clearinghouse Data The National Clearinghouse’s latest enrollment information is a good place to start. For an overview of Clearinghouse data, as well as other information resources on enrollment trends, see Education Futurist Bryan Alexander’s recent blog post on October 15 titled College and university enrollment fell even more steeply this fall, continuing a long term trend. One of the most important data points from the Clearinghouse is that “First time students are by far the biggest decline of any student group from last year (-16.1% nationwide and -22.7% at community colleges,” Alexander writes. Here are some additional points Alexander cites in his blog post: Community college students face some of the biggest challenges because a relatively large portion of them face challenges related to technology access during a time when technology access has been more vitally important than ever. For profit, four-year institutions are running 3% higher enrollments than last year’s fall term. Certain enrollment demographics are overall trending downward, with a 13.7% drop in undergraduate enrollments and a 7.6% drop in international graduate enrollments. Indigenous students showed steepest undergraduate student declines at 10.7%, while Blacks were at a 7.9% decline, Whites at a 7.6% decrease, Hispanics dropped by 6.1%, and Asians by 4.0%. Executive Director of the Clearinghouse Doug Shapiro, from an Inside Higher Ed article on enrollment trends, said “These declines are so large and so fast, and they’re so concentrated on first-year students who may never make it back. If there’s a rebound where they all come back in the spring–I don’t see that happening–I think many of these students will never make it back.” Alexander explains how enrollment declines are really nothing new: “The historical fact is that America grew higher education enrollment for a generation, from 1980 to 2012. That was a great achievement. But 2012 was the peak, and we’ve fallen away from it every year – every semester, in fact.” Decline in FAFSAs In another enrollment-related article, dated May 6, 2020, Bill DeBaun, Director of Data and Evaluation, National College Attainment Network, reported that “Nearly 250,000 fewer returning students from the lowest-income backgrounds have renewed their FAFSA for the 2020-21 cycle, and FAFSA renewals overall are down nearly 5% (more than 350,000 students) compared to last year.” Online versus On-campus For another point of view, see Phil Hill’s blog “PhilOnEdTech.” In The Complexities of Online Education and Fall 2020 Enrollment Data, Hill writes about two types of students, those who prefer online education and those who don’t. He notes that while enrollments in online courses have been increasing for decades, “the majority still want fully on-campus options, perhaps augmented with a few online courses here and there.” However, both for- profit and public institutions that are known as Primarily Online Institutions (POI) becuase they have a long history in offering online courses, such as the University of Phoenix, Walden University, Penn State World Campus, Purdue Global, etc., are showing increased enrollments. Arizona State University (ASU) is another case in point. Both its online and on-campus enrollment numbers continue to increase, “in terms of their long-term growth,” even though the number of first-year on- campus students declined in 2020. Quoting from an August 20, 2020 ASU article headlined 'Forward momentum': ASU launches fall semester with multiple ways to learn, Hill posts the following: “Despite historic challenges facing colleges and universities across the country because of COVID-19, ASU’s fall semester will kick off with more than 127,500 new and returning students, a 7.6% increase over fall 2019. Of that total, over 53,000 are fully online students, ASU Online’s largest fall enrollment to date.” Some Strategies So, what is higher education doing about all this? In How 2- and 4-year colleges can boost spring enrollment, EducationDive reporter Natalie Schwartz writes that “Higher ed experts suspect this trend could be driven in part by low-income students, who may lack funds to attend college during the pandemic. Student-parents also are struggling as they balance their education with caring for their children.” She adds that community colleges might consider marketing strategies that promote their typically lower costs and flexible class times, especially in comparison to one of their primary competitors for enrollments, which are for-profit colleges. [For example, University of Phoenix is offering $1 million in scholarships.] Regarding ideas to boost enrollments at four-year institutions, it is suggested in the article that four- year colleges “should focus on improving transfer pathways [a perennial problem], including by telling community college students upfront how many of their credits will transfer,” as well as overall easing transfer pathways for students who have switched schools to be closer to home due to the pandemic. Melissa Navarro and Taseen Shamim, in an April 30, 2020, Center for American Progress article write that many colleges, in an effort to support current and potentially new students, have extended tuition deposit deadlines, waived enrollment fees, and suspended SAT and ACT test score admission requirements. They also suggest that institutions “consider maintaining those practices in a post- pandemic world.” In the private, non-profit 4-year institution sector, full-time student enrollment drops increased by 1%, according to Clearinghouse data. As noted in a recent Education Dive article, an increasing number of private colleges are reducing tuition rates by 25% to 50% to make up the difference. EdPath Reporting on Enrollment in 2016 In How Community Colleges Maintain Sustainable Enrollment Growth through Collaborations with Outside Entities, written and published by EdPath in late 2016, we presented what 10 community colleges are doing of a collaborative nature with outside entities, such as other institutions, high schools, corporations, and organizations to help boost enrollment figures. Pretty much all of the suggestions in this report can apply to four-year institutions as well. And everything can be considered applicable to today’s enrollment issues. In the Trends & Issues section of this report, strategies to boost enrollments are explained under the following topics: marketing, dual enrollments/early college high school, workforce development, developmental education, leveraging services, and thinking big. This report concludes with the following statement: Community colleges continue to have the wherewithal to succeed at getting students through to completion and jobs, and, in the process, maintain solid enrollment numbers. Going back to 1995 with the publication of “The Company We Keep” by the American Association of Community Colleges, the message has always been that “collaboration has proven to be a far more effective approach than mutually exclusive competition in promoting the mission and overall ideals of community colleges.” In short, institutions cannot succeed by operating in silos or only within small pockets of innovation. The requisite collaborations with outside entities are what ultimately bring about innovative and successful solutions that keep the doors open at our nation’s community colleges for any student, young, old and in-between, to pursue and thrive. Part I: Is There A Bigger Enrollment Crises In Higher Ed Than We Currently Realize?
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