Highlights from Higher Ed: New High School Grads, What Employers Want, Ending Masks and Increased Technology Adoption

RJ Nichol
Jun 11, 2021

New high school grad enrollment affected by the pandemic

The College Board, using data from the National Student Clearinghouse, found differences between Community Colleges and four-year institutions in recent high school graduate enrollment. Community Colleges lost more would-be incoming students who are lower-income and lower-achieving, and those from underrepresented groups. Four-year institutions lost higher-achieving students from wealthier high schools. Four-year schools were more likely to retain first-year students, who graduated from high school in spring 2019, than Community Colleges. But within the four-year sector, lower-cost schools retained students at higher rates than those with higher posted tuition and fees, compared to students who started the year before.

Source: Higher Ed Dive

Businesses still want employees with degrees

What do businesses say their needs are and what do they want in applicants and for their employees, education-wise? Education services company Wiley recently published a report called “Reimagining the Workforce 2021″ based on a survey of 605 human resource and learning and development professionals across the United States. Degrees from colleges or universities topped the list of importance in hiring with 72% saying it was either “extremely” or “very” important. Just 4% said degrees were “not important at all.” In addition, the report indicates that “traditional forms of education [are] still seen as the most effective for upskilling/reskilling employees.” By a 51% margin (64% to 13%), The top response among business leaders was that tuition reimbursements or scholarships were the education benefit that was most effective at upskilling. 

Source: Forbes

More colleges are ending mask mandates

At least 58 colleges have announced they’re ending or loosening their mask mandates. Many colleges made their decisions following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s announcement on May 13, 2021 that fully vaccinated people no longer needed to wear masks in most situations. In some cases, the campus policy change has been dictated by state legislation that bans mask mandates, as can be seen in Oklahoma, Utah and Texas. Still, a number of other colleges aren’t lifting masking requirements wholesale, choosing instead to allow only fully vaccinated people to take off their masks, for example, or to require masks indoors but not outside.

Source: The Chronicle of Education

COVID-19 has decisively closed technology adoption gaps

According to the 2021 Changing Landscape of Online Education (CHLOE) report, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a pivot to online learning in higher education and increased mainstream adoption of many education technology tools. “The pandemic pushed schools of all types … to invest in novel forms of technology or reinvest in existing capabilities,” the report noted, “faster and more decisively than anything previous.” The technology with the greatest gains was videoconferencing, which is projected to reach 87 percent mainstream adoption by the end of 2021, compared to 51 percent in 2019. A few other technologies seeing a significant boost in 2021 compared to 2019:

  • Video recording and distribution tools rose from 44% mainstream adoption in 2019 to a projected 60 percent in 2021;
  • Accessibility tools increased from 42% to 51%;
  • Student support (including retention tools), from 32% to 43%.

Source: Campus Technology

RJ Nichol

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