Highlights from Higher Ed: Challenges for Online Programs, Summer Enrollment, Masks or No Masks? Help for Students Who Move Due to the Pandemic

David Art
Jul 15, 2021

Students Not Happy With Online Programs

A recent poll of 2,000 students across 108 institutions reveals challenges for online programs.  The report, produced by Inside Higher Ed, College Pulse and Kaplan, indicates that a majority of college students (52%) said they learned less this year. Almost half (46%) said they were spending more time on assignments and coursework this year. That jumps to 53% when removing those who can’t compare the workload to a previous year. 81% of students said it was either “extremely difficult” or “somewhat difficult” to concentrate during “remote lectures.”  In all, 94% reported taking some or all of their classes online. Unfortunately that adds up to students reporting they learned less, spent more time and didn’t think it is a good value.

Source: Forbes

What Does Summer Enrollment Say?

Anecdotal evidence about summer enrollment suggests a wide range of results. At Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan, for example, summer enrollment is up nearly 9% from last year’s session and 3.7% from 2019, according to a spokesperson for the college. In contrast, Mineral Area College in Missouri reports an 8.3% decline in summer students compared to last year. It’s difficult to say what overarching factors could lead to increased attendance at two-year colleges this summer. Summer enrollment can help accelerate time to degree for both community college and bachelor’s degree students, and students at public flagships or private universities often take summer classes at community colleges to get credits at less cost than at their home institution. 

Source: Inside Higher Ed

No Mask Required

A growing number of institutions have announced that they’ll no longer require masks on campus, though there are some caveats. Colleges’ rules often fall in line with Center for Disease Control guidance, stipulating that masks are optional only for fully vaccinated people. Some colleges still require masks to be worn indoors, even if they’re no longer mandated outside. However, since June 1, Pennsylvania State University, North Dakota State University, Ashland University and many others have announced that masks aren’t required at all.

Source: Chronicle of Higher Education

Helping Students Who Move During the School Year

Schools and communities suddenly facing big changes in enrollment as a result of the pandemic are driving new interest in the Five District Partnership (Chelsea, Massachusetts) model, begun in 2012 to address the large number of students who move during the year.  Students who move, especially during the middle of the academic year, must adapt to a lot and experience academic delays due to the disruption of  new classes, new textbooks, even a new social scene. The pandemic seems to be leading a large number of students to change schools. For example, students who move because a family member lost a job, especially those who move multiple times, also have more trouble graduating high school. Chad d’Entremont, Executive Director of the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy, explains that “historically, schools tended to operate in isolation. They’re beginning to realize that we’re all interconnected. If a student moves from one school to another, from one city to another… we need to be able to transfer that knowledge and information.”

Source: EdSurge

David Art

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