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Part III: What the Future May Herald for Colleges and Universities Affected by Declining Enrollments by George Lorenzo In Part III of our Enrollment Series, we take a more expansive look at what education writers and researchers are saying about how colleges and universities could possibly assuage the negative effects of enrollment declines. In Part I, we theorized, based on the reporting, that the so-called enrollment-decline crisis may be more significant than what many educators seem to believe. In Part II, we described, in brief, what some sectors of the education industry were doing to possibly increase enrollments, such as community colleges promoting low- cost, flexible learning alternatives; four-year institutions making academic transfer options easier to accomplish; private colleges lessening tuition costs; and basically all of higher education enacting new policies that extend tuition deposit deadlines, waive enrollment fees, and suspend SAT and ACT test score admission requirements. Lack of First-year Enrollees Brings Troubling Signs In particular, as noted in Part II, entering first-year students are on the decline at many institutions. This brings predictions pointing to a bleak future in which the negative effects of these new non- attendees, who some folks say will more than likely never come back, will extend well into the years ahead. While all the aforementioned endeavors to alleviate enrollment declines can certainly help, there are many more ideas and strategies that educators might want to consider when thinking about boosting enrollments. Increasing Retention Rates Boosting academic success and increasing retention rates are two of several strategies that educators can take seriously in their desire to mitigate enrollment declines. According to Karen Vignare, executive director of the Personalized Learning Consortium at the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities, higher education has an opportunity to further improve and maintain a well-established momentum that supports high-risk students toward achieving academic success across the student life cycle during this time of crisis. These students, who are mostly racial minorities and first-generation students burdened by wealth inequality, typically work in low-paying service industry jobs that are mostly gone. They need more financial support, especially during these times of high unemployment due to COVID-19. They also need more academic support. On the academic side, Vignare, in her responsibilities with the Personalized Learning Consortium, is heavily involved with the development of adaptive + active digital learning tools and pedagogies that have proven to help typically failing students do much better and pass their foundational/gateway courses. These efforts are supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in partnership with the Every Learner Everywhere Network. For more information, see the recently published Adaptive Courseware Implementation Guide, as well as numerous other resources published at the Every Learner Everywhere website. On the financial side, solutions look much harder to come by due to the further erosion of state funding support brought on by our country’s current economic declines that have exacerbated the still negative financial effects of the Great Recession in 2008. See our paper on state funding of community colleges published in 2018. More Assistance for First-timers “These are critical times for first-time students,” Vignare says. How should educators face these times and help first-timers? Vignare offers a variety of possible solutions, from getting creative with new and different kinds of first-time student orientations; reducing class sizes; possibly limiting the number of course choices to better prioritize student success; and leveraging new digital learning tools that show evidence of increasing student success (such as adaptive courseware), as learning modalities stay mostly in the online education realm of teaching and learning during COVID-19. Other efforts in this regard include hiring student senior mentors who can work with faculty and advising teams by having them connect with and support younger students via social media, for example. All these efforts are basically aimed at keeping first-time students on track to stay the course and ultimately earn their degrees and hence not contribute to enrollment declines. Importance of Net Tuition Revenue For another point of view, Senior Writer at the Chronicle of Higher Education Lee Gardner reports how “net tuition revenue matters more than enrollment.” While enrollment numbers are important to an institution’s overall growth, “the more granular — and more important — indicator is net tuition revenue: how many tuition dollars actually come in, minus how much financial aid goes out.” On October 28, bond-rating agency Moody’s reported that for the first time in its 12-years of annual tuition surveys, “both private and public colleges are likely to lose net tuition revenue in the 2021 fiscal year. Private institutions are expected to experience a median 3-percent decrease in net tuition revenue, while public institutions are expected to see a median 1-percent decrease.” The article also points out that as public institutions see first-year student enrollment declines, they tend to go deeper into their student admissions waiting list, accepting more in-state applications in order to meet enrollment-number goals. This practice, however, reduces net tuition revenue because out-of- state students who pay more in tuition dollars are not as prevalent as in past years. Meanwhile, in “Tuition Rises at Historically Low Rate Amid Pandemic,” published on Oct. 26 by Inside Higher Ed, reporter Emma Whitford explains how the consequences of all these tuition pricing scenarios are very much in flux, with their true overall effects yet to be fully realized. Revenue shortages and the deleterious economic impacts brought on by the pandemic “have yet to reflect the financial effects of the pandemic on state budgets,” with some states already cutting funding for higher education. All the more reason why higher education institutions across the nation need to buckle down and find reasonable solutions to alleviate the resulting pain, a task our federal government also prepares to tackle as a new White House administration starts to take shape.
© Copyright 2020/Lorenzo Associates, Inc.
EDUCATIONALPathways
Part III: What the Future May Herald for Colleges and Universities Affected by Declining Enrollments by George Lorenzo In Part III of our Enrollment Series, we take a more expansive look at what education writers and researchers are saying about how colleges and universities could possibly assuage the negative effects of enrollment declines. In Part I, we theorized, based on the reporting, that the so-called enrollment-decline crisis may be more significant than what many educators seem to believe. In Part II, we described, in brief, what some sectors of the education industry were doing to possibly increase enrollments, such as community colleges promoting low-cost, flexible learning alternatives; four-year institutions making academic transfer options easier to accomplish; private colleges lessening tuition costs; and basically all of higher education enacting new policies that extend tuition deposit deadlines, waive enrollment fees, and suspend SAT and ACT test score admission requirements. Lack of First-year Enrollees Brings Troubling Signs In particular, as noted in Part II, entering first-year students are on the decline at many institutions. This brings predictions pointing to a bleak future in which the negative effects of these new non- attendees, who some folks say will more than likely never come back, will extend well into the years ahead. While all the aforementioned endeavors to alleviate enrollment declines can certainly help, there are many more ideas and strategies that educators might want to consider when thinking about boosting enrollments. Increasing Retention Rates Boosting academic success and increasing retention rates are two of several strategies that educators can take seriously in their desire to mitigate enrollment declines. According to Karen Vignare, executive director of the Personalized Learning Consortium at the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities, higher education has an opportunity to further improve and maintain a well-established momentum that supports high- risk students toward achieving academic success across the student life cycle during this time of crisis. These students, who are mostly racial minorities and first-generation students burdened by wealth inequality, typically work in low-paying service industry jobs that are mostly gone. They need more financial support, especially during these times of high unemployment due to COVID- 19. They also need more academic support. On the academic side, Vignare, in her responsibilities with the Personalized Learning Consortium, is heavily involved with the development of adaptive + active digital learning tools and pedagogies that have proven to help typically failing students do much better and pass their foundational/gateway courses. These efforts are supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in partnership with the Every Learner Everywhere Network. For more information, see the recently published Adaptive Courseware Implementation Guide, as well as numerous other resources published at the Every Learner Everywhere website. On the financial side, solutions look much harder to come by due to the further erosion of state funding support brought on by our country’s current economic declines that have exacerbated the still negative financial effects of the Great Recession in 2008. See our paper on state funding of community colleges published in 2018. More Assistance for First-timers “These are critical times for first-time students,” Vignare says. How should educators face these times and help first-timers? Vignare offers a variety of possible solutions, from getting creative with new and different kinds of first-time student orientations; reducing class sizes; possibly limiting the number of course choices to better prioritize student success; and leveraging new digital learning tools that show evidence of increasing student success (such as adaptive courseware), as learning modalities stay mostly in the online education realm of teaching and learning during COVID-19. Other efforts in this regard include hiring student senior mentors who can work with faculty and advising teams by having them connect with and support younger students via social media, for example. All these efforts are basically aimed at keeping first-time students on track to stay the course and ultimately earn their degrees and hence not contribute to enrollment declines. Importance of Net Tuition Revenue For another point of view, Senior Writer at the Chronicle of Higher Education Lee Gardner reports how “net tuition revenue matters more than enrollment.” While enrollment numbers are important to an institution’s overall growth, “the more granular — and more important — indicator is net tuition revenue: how many tuition dollars actually come in, minus how much financial aid goes out.” On October 28, bond-rating agency Moody’s reported that for the first time in its 12-years of annual tuition surveys, “both private and public colleges are likely to lose net tuition revenue in the 2021 fiscal year. Private institutions are expected to experience a median 3-percent decrease in net tuition revenue, while public institutions are expected to see a median 1-percent decrease.” The article also points out that as public institutions see first-year student enrollment declines, they tend to go deeper into their student admissions waiting list, accepting more in-state applications in order to meet enrollment-number goals. This practice, however, reduces net tuition revenue because out- of-state students who pay more in tuition dollars are not as prevalent as in past years. Meanwhile, in “Tuition Rises at Historically Low Rate Amid Pandemic,” published on Oct. 26 by Inside Higher Ed, reporter Emma Whitford explains how the consequences of all these tuition pricing scenarios are very much in flux, with their true overall effects yet to be fully realized. Revenue shortages and the deleterious economic impacts brought on by the pandemic “have yet to reflect the financial effects of the pandemic on state budgets,” with some states already cutting funding for higher education. All the more reason why higher education institutions across the nation need to buckle down and find reasonable solutions to alleviate the resulting pain, a task our federal government also prepares to tackle as a new White House administration starts to take shape.