Highlights from Higher Ed: Online Stop-Out Students, International Graduate Applications, Admissions Policies, Social Media Blues

Jun 30, 2023

More than 40% of students in online programs previously “stopped out”  

Students who had previously attended college but stopped before graduating account for 42% of those currently enrolled in an online degree-level or certificate program; first-generation students make up 33% of the population. Among those described as stop-outs, 44% are first-generation learners. Researchers at Wiley, who surveyed 2,600 students to arrive at their conclusions, also determined that the most common challenges facing first-generation online students include finances (31%), obtaining transcripts (25%), and completing financial aid forms (22%). “Additionally, two-thirds of students were interested in pursuing alternative credentials instead of a degree program if it means greater employment prospects. Specifically, 47% were very or extremely interested in certificates to gain a new skill for their career (47%).” 

Source: University Business

International graduate applications increased 26% last fall 

The number of international applications received by U.S. graduate schools increased for the fourth year in a row last fall, according to the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS). Although applications from Chinese students declined for the second consecutive year, “there was a surge in applications and enrollments from India and countries in Sub-Saharan Africa… particularly in Nigeria and Ghana.” The decline in applications from Chinese students is likely a result of growing competition from grad schools in that country as well as tension between the governments of the United States and China. “The report shows applicants from India have been more focused on master’s degree and certificate programs rather than doctoral programs. The largest growth areas across all countries are biological and agricultural sciences and mathematical and computer sciences, although the arts and humanities, business and education also show growth.” 

Source: Diverse Education

More Americans are opposed to race- and ethnicity-based admissions policies than are in favor 

In the run-up to the U.S. Supreme Court’s highly anticipated ruling on the legality of considering racial and ethnicity in college admission decisions, the Pew Research Center reported that 50% of Americans are opposed to the practice. Thirty-three percent of survey respondents were in favor of the policies designed to increase diversity in higher-ed, while 16% said they were unsure. In addition, Americans are much more likely to say they strongly disapprove (29%) as they are to say they strongly approve (11%). “About three-quarters of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (74%) say they disapprove of these practices, including 48% who strongly disapprove… By contrast, a narrow majority of Democrats and Democratic leaners (54%) approve of colleges doing this, with 19% approving strongly.” 

Source: Pew Research Center

Students who cut back on social media use experience mental health benefits 

Limiting the amount of time spent online each day may help college students alleviate feelings of anxiety, depression, loneliness, and fear of missing out. Researchers asked a group of students from a large Midwestern university to limit their use of social media to just 30 minutes each day for two weeks. They found that students who successfully self-limited their use slept better and felt more deeply connected with those around them than students who did not change their social media habits. The findings were “kind of counterintuitive,” according to one of the study’s authors. “If you talk to many people, they would tell you that social media is how they manage their stress, how they keep themselves entertained, how they stay connected with other people. The typical perception is that people use social media to cope.” With that in mind, students who spend hours a day on social media might want to reconsider how their habits affect their psychological well-being. 

Source: University Business


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Over the last three decades, Liaison has helped over 40,000 programs on more than 1,200 campuses more effectively manage admissions through its Centralized Application Service (CAS™) technology and complementary application processing and support services. The higher education technology leader supports its partner institutions’ total enrollment goals by pairing CAS with its Enrollment Marketing (EM) platform as well as the recently acquired TargetX (CRM) and advanced analytics software Othot.