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Highlights from Higher Ed: Uneven Enrollment Trends, Millennial Regrets and Colleges in Trouble

Overall college enrollment dips to 10-year low, but some types of schools see increases

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reported that fewer than 18 million students were enrolled in U.S. colleges in the fall of 2019 — the lowest number in the past 10 years. That amounts to a year-over-year decline of more than 231,000 students, or 1.3%. However, some types of schools reported higher enrollment totals. For example, private non-profit institutions with at least 10,000 students experienced a 2.7% increase; the number of dual-enrollment students at public two-year colleges also rose. Four-year, for-profit schools reported the biggest drop, as measured by the percentage of student population. Public two- and four-year schools also saw the number of new enrollees decline, as did private non-profit institutions. Enrollment numbers also varied by region. The largest enrollment growth occurred in Utah (4.9%), Arizona (1.8%), Georgia (1.5%) and Kentucky (1.5%). The biggest declines were in Alaska (-10.6%), Florida (-5.3%) and Arkansas (-4.9%).

Source: Education Dive

Most Millennials value their college degrees, but many have regrets about career planning

Most Millennial graduates “value the education that they received,” believe their degrees prepared them for the workforce and would not change their decision to go to college, according to a recent study. Yet a “large minority… hold some reservations” about how well their education prepared them for their careers. While 61% said they would recommend the school they attended, more than 33% said their schools “over promised and under delivered” their ability to prepare students for jobs after graduation. Not all survey respondents placed all the blame on their schools, though: only 40% said they took full advantage of their schools’ career planning services, 58% regretted not taking advantage of internship opportunities and 69% acknowledged not having done sufficient career planning before accepting their first job after graduation.

Source: eCampusNews

Fewer Americans — particularly younger ones — think college is important

The number of Americans who think a college education is “very important” has fallen to 51%, from 70% as recently as 2013. According to a report on new Gallup Poll data, younger survey respondents were less likely to see the value of going to college, with just 41% of those aged 18 to 29 saying it’s important. That’s down from 74% in 2013. In addition, “opinions were split by race, gender and political party.” Women, Democrats and black and Hispanic Americans were more likely to say college is important, compared with men, Republicans and white respondents, respectively.

Source: Inside Higher Ed

An estimated 20% of small, private colleges are in serious financial danger

Moody’s Investors Services estimates that one in five small, private liberal arts colleges are now facing “fundamental stress” due to “declining revenues, rising expenses and little pricing power when it comes to tuition.” Generally speaking, schools in the Northeast and Midwest are at the greatest risk of closing due in part to aging populations in those regions. A Moody’s executive said the outlook is unlikely to change because “the higher education sector is in a period of real transformation in terms of how students learn and where they learn.” As a result, many small liberal arts schools are now faced with the choice of merging, establishing new partnerships or making dramatic budget cuts in order to keep their doors open. Unfortunately, some schools — wary of scaring away potential applicants — don’t disclose their financial hardships until it’s too late to continue operations.


How GME can prepare for its own “Got Milk?” moment

“In this era of declining applications and shifting demographics in graduate management education (GME), it’s incumbent upon business schools to leave no stone unturned in their search for creative solutions that support recruitment efforts,” says Shaun R. Carver, assistant dean of graduate programs at the University of California, San Diego’s Rady School of Management. His solution, as articulated in an AACSB International online opinion piece, is to “borrow a page from the playbook of the American dairy farmers of the 1990s” and emulate their iconic “Got Milk?” advertising campaign for the benefit of the entire GME community.

Citing widespread declines in GME application volume, Carver, who is also a member of the BusinessCAS Advisory Board, argues that “the shrinking market for GME mirrors the plight of dairy farmers in the 1990s.” He goes on to suggest that: “Just as small-scale dairy farmers don’t possess the power to move the dairy market, today’s individual business schools in any country don’t have the resources or influence to reverse the migration away from traditional MBA programs among the entire population of prospective applicants. But business schools could move the needle if they acted in unison, with an inspired and creative message at the heart of their concerted campaign.”

According to Carver, that would involve business schools working together to come up with a “game changing” slogan, pooling their resources to disseminate advertisements and then “inserting their own program’s story within the template provided by the broader GME campaign.”

Source: BizEd

In the wake of public funding cuts, Kentucky State University finds new ways to do more with less

Kentucky is just one of five states with the dubious distinction of having reduced public funding for higher education in 2018/2019 compared with the previous year. By one estimate, it ended up spending $2,792 less per student in 2018 than it did in 2008. As a result, Kentucky “will soon face the prospect of one of the country’s grimmest outlooks when it comes to funding for higher education,” according to a recent State Journal column authored by Rick del Rosario, associate vice president of enrollment management solutions at Liaison.

The news isn’t all bad, however. Taking its cue from higher ed institutions in other states that have found innovative ways to better serve students while allocating assets more efficiently, Kentucky State University recently started using Liaison’s Centralized Application Services (CAS™) technology to modernize its admissions process. According to del Rosario, that will make it possible for the school to begin “eliminating substantial administrative burdens and empowering its staff to focus on fulfilling precisely the responsibility that they were meant to all along — frequent, thoughtful, strategic engagement and communication with applicants.”

To support his contention, del Rosario cites the results achieved by the 23-campus California State University system after introducing UniCAS™ technology. San Francisco State University, for example, was able “to not only spend 10 percent less on supplies and services from 2018 to 2017, but also to save $40,000 on annual labor costs through the realignment of staff responsibilities and reduction of its student assistants from seven to three.”

Source: The State Journal