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Part IV: Wrapping Up Key Issues Related to Enrollment Declines by George and Salvatore Lorenzo All the data related to enrollment declines at colleges and universities in the U.S. point to several key issues and challenges. Here’s an overview of where and why enrollment numbers are still showing a downward trendline. For-profits Stephanie Riegg Cellini, in “The alarming rise in for-profit college enrollment,” published by Brookings, notes that during a time when we are seeing enrollment declines among first-year undergraduates at public non-profit institutions, the opposite is happening at for- profit institutions. For-profits are increasing their enrollments and have boosted their marketing budgets. For-profits are doing well, in part, due to deregulations they benefited from under the Trump administration. Disturbingly, this is happening despite the fact that “for-profit institutions yield both lower earnings gains and higher debt for students than other institutions,” Cellini explains. Furthermore, as for-profits remain stable, their advertising budgets are “increasing and shifting to pandemic-themed marketing messages to lure students,” as noted in a Century Foundation article. Plus, “some unscrupulous colleges continue to take advantage of students during the pandemic,” as noted in an NPR article. In effect, the increase in for-profit enrollments further impacts the decrease in non-profit enrollments, as both sectors compete for students. Inequality Education Dive reporter Hallie Busta reports that “the pandemic has disproportionally impacted communities of color . . ., according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.” Devron Delfino at Student Loan Hero reports that the pandemic is “exacerbating some already troubling U.S. inequality trends.” For instance, “those with a household income of less than $25,000 are 15.4% more likely to report college plans changes than those in households with incomes of $200,000 or greater,” according to Student Loan Hero’s analysis of a U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey. “Even consumers who have taken the responsible step of building an emergency fund might not have enough savings to overcome a decrease in earnings that spans the length of a pandemic, adds Student Loan Hero Senior Writer Andrew Pentis. “They might also have a harder time going out and finding replacement income, particularly if they work in a service-oriented industry affected by the economic shutdown.” Online Ed “It’s not just a matter of financial aid that is interfering with students’ plans to attend college; for many it’s the modality, specifically online learning… and many of its variations,” Rae Downs explains. “For too many students this term, online learning is inaccessible. The pandemic hasn’t caused the digital divide but it has laid it bare. We know that students have struggled with a multitude of challenges related to digital learning—access to a computer, internet connectivity, a quiet place to study and work. Some of those challenges we can meet and some we cannot.” Some solutions include: Distributing mobile hot spots and creating campus Wi-Fi parking lots. Developing mobile first courses that are adapted to smartphone and tablet use. Creating more socially distanced spaces on campuses where students can work in relative safety. Working with local organizations and school districts to pool digital and physical resources. Reaching out and advising students to return to college. “And we can take this as time to reflect on what works and what doesn’t work in digital learning. We can study the impact of deliberate instructional design. We can determine the impact of hybrid/blended learning on both students and faculty. We can better understand the digital and physical supports that many students need to succeed. We can begin to dig into the rich data coming out of online and hybrid courses to better understand student learning.” Applications Title 1 eligible high schools show a 6% downward trend in FAFSA applications compared to 4% at all high schools, writes Lindsey Rae Downs in “Working Toward Equity in Online Education,” published by WCET Frontiers. In “Applications Are Decreasing,” Scott Jaschik at Inside Higher Ed reports that Common Applications are also down, with “8 percent fewer applications through Nov. 2 compared to last year.” In response to the drop, many colleges are not requiring SAT or ACT scores for admission, “as so many students have reported that it is impossible for them to register for and take the tests even once, let alone more than once.” Additionally, “Numerous studies have shown that first-generation, Black and Latinx students are not enrolling this year at the same levels as white and Asian students. . . Colleges and universities in the Northeast and Midwest regions experienced the largest declines in application volume, each down 14 percent.” President and CEO of Common Application Jenny Rickard said that colleges forgoing the SAT and ACT tests had higher application rates for first-year students, adding that they were in the process of further analyzing all of their data in a hopeful effort to provide institutions with sound advice and ideas that might help alleviate the downward trends. International Students International student enrollment numbers are showing a troubling steep decline, writes Elizabeth Redden in an Inside Higher Ed article. The total number of international students studying at U.S. universities, whether from within the U.S. or online from abroad, decreased by 16 percent this fall, while enrollments of new international students decreased by 43 percent, according to a new survey of more than 700 colleges conducted by 10 major higher education organizations. The survey found that one in five international students are studying online from outside the U.S. Ninety percent of responding institutions reported student deferrals, collectively reporting that nearly 40,000 international students have deferred their studies to a future term. Despite such drops, there may be some light at the end of the tunnel: “We’ve never had a decrease like that,” said Allan E. Goodman, president of the Institute of International Education, one of the organizations that conducted the survey. “What we do know is when pandemics end, there’s tremendous pent-up demand. All of our records show in the past that when it’s safe to resume travel, we’re dealing with surges of students that have deferred, that set their plans aside, that were granted deferments and want to come. I think there’s no reason to suspect that at the end of this pandemic we won’t see the same thing.” Graduate Students Graduate student enrollments are “speeding up – for now,” writes Education Dive Reporter Hallie Busta. The bump is predicted to be temporary and “concentrated at large, online institutions with big marketing and recruiting operations. Some but not all of these are for-profits.” Regardless, not all graduate enrollment predictions are positive. The pandemic, combined with the Trump administration's new and proposed restrictions on international students' access to the U.S. and more options from colleges outside the country, could further depress graduate enrollment in the U.S. "If restrictions remain in place, the pandemic remains rampant, then this good news story about graduate education might not last," said Richard Garrett, chief research officer at advisory firm Eduventures. Is Help on the Way? As enrollment declines have already brought about or are foreshadowing ominous budget cuts, is federal relief on the near horizon, asks Education Dive Reporter Daniel C. Vok. The answer lies in waiting as stalled Congressional negotiations remain. Moreover, state governments are facing sharp financial declines, resulting in less support across the higher ed industry. “Higher ed’s funding situation is likely to get worse before it gets better,” Vok writes, adding that “the financial crunch will affect higher ed institutions differently, with regional public universities and community colleges bearing the brunt.” Vok also points to some seemingly bright spots among all the bad news. “A few institutions have been able to attract major donations to expand programs or provide scholarship,” Vok explains, noting that the Missouri University recently garnered a $300 million donation, the University of Maine is getting $240 million, and the Jay Pritzker Foundation donated $100 to the California Community Colleges. “Experts warn, though, that there is no way philanthropic giving can make up for the deficits public institutions are likely to face in the coming years.”
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© Copyright 2020/Lorenzo Associates, Inc.
EDUCATIONALPathways
Part IV: Wrapping Up Key Issues Related to Enrollment Declines by George and Salvatore Lorenzo All the data related to enrollment declines at colleges and universities in the U.S. point to several key issues and challenges. Here’s an overview of where and why enrollment numbers are still showing a downward trendline. For-profits Stephanie Riegg Cellini, in “The alarming rise in for- profit college enrollment,” published by Brookings, notes that during a time when we are seeing enrollment declines among first-year undergraduates at public non-profit institutions, the opposite is happening at for-profit institutions. For-profits are increasing their enrollments and have boosted their marketing budgets. For-profits are doing well, in part, due to deregulations they benefited from under the Trump administration. Disturbingly, this is happening despite the fact that “for-profit institutions yield both lower earnings gains and higher debt for students than other institutions,” Cellini explains. Furthermore, as for-profits remain stable, their advertising budgets are “increasing and shifting to pandemic-themed marketing messages to lure students,” as noted in a Century Foundation article. Plus, “some unscrupulous colleges continue to take advantage of students during the pandemic,” as noted in an NPR article. In effect, the increase in for-profit enrollments further impacts the decrease in non-profit enrollments, as both sectors compete for students. Inequality Education Dive reporter Hallie Busta reports that “the pandemic has disproportionally impacted communities of color . . ., according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.” Devron Delfino at Student Loan Hero reports that the pandemic is “exacerbating some already troubling U.S. inequality trends.” For instance, “those with a household income of less than $25,000 are 15.4% more likely to report college plans changes than those in households with incomes of $200,000 or greater,” according to Student Loan Hero’s analysis of a U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey. “Even consumers who have taken the responsible step of building an emergency fund might not have enough savings to overcome a decrease in earnings that spans the length of a pandemic, adds Student Loan Hero Senior Writer Andrew Pentis. “They might also have a harder time going out and finding replacement income, particularly if they work in a service-oriented industry affected by the economic shutdown.” Online Ed “It’s not just a matter of financial aid that is interfering with students’ plans to attend college; for many it’s the modality, specifically online learning… and many of its variations,” Rae Downs explains. “For too many students this term, online learning is inaccessible. The pandemic hasn’t caused the digital divide but it has laid it bare. We know that students have struggled with a multitude of challenges related to digital learning—access to a computer, internet connectivity, a quiet place to study and work. Some of those challenges we can meet and some we cannot.” Some solutions include: Distributing mobile hot spots and creating campus Wi-Fi parking lots. Developing mobile first courses that are adapted to smartphone and tablet use. Creating more socially distanced spaces on campuses where students can work in relative safety. Working with local organizations and school districts to pool digital and physical resources. Reaching out and advising students to return to college. “And we can take this as time to reflect on what works and what doesn’t work in digital learning. We can study the impact of deliberate instructional design. We can determine the impact of hybrid/blended learning on both students and faculty. We can better understand the digital and physical supports that many students need to succeed. We can begin to dig into the rich data coming out of online and hybrid courses to better understand student learning.” Applications Title 1 eligible high schools show a 6% downward trend in FAFSA applications compared to 4% at all high schools, writes Lindsey Rae Downs in “Working Toward Equity in Online Education,” published by WCET Frontiers. In “Applications Are Decreasing,” Scott Jaschik at Inside Higher Ed reports that Common Applications are also down, with “8 percent fewer applications through Nov. 2 compared to last year.” In response to the drop, many colleges are not requiring SAT or ACT scores for admission, “as so many students have reported that it is impossible for them to register for and take the tests even once, let alone more than once.” Additionally, “Numerous studies have shown that first-generation, Black and Latinx students are not enrolling this year at the same levels as white and Asian students. . . Colleges and universities in the Northeast and Midwest regions experienced the largest declines in application volume, each down 14 percent.” President and CEO of Common Application Jenny Rickard said that colleges forgoing the SAT and ACT tests had higher application rates for first-year students, adding that they were in the process of further analyzing all of their data in a hopeful effort to provide institutions with sound advice and ideas that might help alleviate the downward trends. International Students International student enrollment numbers are showing a troubling steep decline, writes Elizabeth Redden in an Inside Higher Ed article. The total number of international students studying at U.S. universities, whether from within the U.S. or online from abroad, decreased by 16 percent this fall, while enrollments of new international students decreased by 43 percent, according to a new survey of more than 700 colleges conducted by 10 major higher education organizations. The survey found that one in five international students are studying online from outside the U.S. Ninety percent of responding institutions reported student deferrals, collectively reporting that nearly 40,000 international students have deferred their studies to a future term. Despite such drops, there may be some light at the end of the tunnel: “We’ve never had a decrease like that,” said Allan E. Goodman, president of the Institute of International Education, one of the organizations that conducted the survey. “What we do know is when pandemics end, there’s tremendous pent-up demand. All of our records show in the past that when it’s safe to resume travel, we’re dealing with surges of students that have deferred, that set their plans aside, that were granted deferments and want to come. I think there’s no reason to suspect that at the end of this pandemic we won’t see the same thing.” Graduate Students Graduate student enrollments are “speeding up – for now,” writes Education Dive Reporter Hallie Busta. The bump is predicted to be temporary and “concentrated at large, online institutions with big marketing and recruiting operations. Some but not all of these are for-profits.” Regardless, not all graduate enrollment predictions are positive. The pandemic, combined with the Trump administration's new and proposed restrictions on international students' access to the U.S. and more options from colleges outside the country, could further depress graduate enrollment in the U.S. "If restrictions remain in place, the pandemic remains rampant, then this good news story about graduate education might not last," said Richard Garrett, chief research officer at advisory firm Eduventures. Is Help on the Way? As enrollment declines have already brought about or are foreshadowing ominous budget cuts, is federal relief on the near horizon, asks Education Dive Reporter Daniel C. Vok. The answer lies in waiting as stalled Congressional negotiations remain. Moreover, state governments are facing sharp financial declines, resulting in less support across the higher ed industry. “Higher ed’s funding situation is likely to get worse before it gets better,” Vok writes, adding that “the financial crunch will affect higher ed institutions differently, with regional public universities and community colleges bearing the brunt.” Vok also points to some seemingly bright spots among all the bad news. “A few institutions have been able to attract major donations to expand programs or provide scholarship,” Vok explains, noting that the Missouri University recently garnered a $300 million donation, the University of Maine is getting $240 million, and the Jay Pritzker Foundation donated $100 to the California Community Colleges. “Experts warn, though, that there is no way philanthropic giving can make up for the deficits public institutions are likely to face in the coming years.”
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