7 Key Takeaways from Our Annual Report
As a higher education professional, you’ve heard plenty of horror stories about COVID-19 wreaking havoc on college campuses nationwide. Two years in, you’re still having to guide students and your institution through a global pandemic. Enrollment numbers are falling as more students choose to defer their dreams amidst the coronavirus chaos.
It’s enough to keep any of us in this field lying awake at night. But is it really all doom and gloom? Most of these reports focus on undergraduate studies, so what does this mean specifically for postbac programs? So, what can you expect to see in the year ahead?
PostbacCAS, a centralized application service powered by Liaison, has put together an annual report of data collected from the previous year to help postbac programs better prepare for the year ahead.
The Key Highlights of Our Report
Haven’t had a chance to read the 2020-2021 annual report? Don’t worry. Here are some key findings.
Despite Covid, Postbac Applications Increased Last Year
This may come as a surprise to many of you. We’ve all heard news stories about colleges experiencing declining enrollment during the pandemic. From community colleges to graduate schools, no one was spared. However, members of PostbacCAS seemed to buck this trend. Our report showed a 29% increase overall in applications submitted using PostbacCAS. Though it seems counterintuitive, the pandemic may have presented the perfect opportunity for prospective students to enroll.
According to Suzanne Ortega, president of the Council of Graduate Schools, enrollment in graduate programs among Latinx students and other historically underrepresented groups has increased during COVID-19. Our own report found that enrollment in Career-Changer programs among Hispanic students is up by 5%. Increased remote or flexible learning options during the pandemic may have presented opportunities for more students to enroll, thus increasing the diversity of academic cohorts.
First-Generation Students Continue to Shatter Barriers
More students continue to make history in their families as the first ones to attend college and graduate school. Among Career-Changer only programs, more than 20% of students reported they were the first in their families to attend college. Among Academic Enhancer Only programs, it jumped to nearly 26%. It’s unclear what role, if any, the pandemic plays in these findings.
Enrollment of Military Veterans Continues to Lag
Across all institution types, active-duty military and veteran enrollment continue to lag. Active-duty and military veterans only made up roughly 4% of Career-Changer programs, and that number shrunk to 1% for enrollment in Academic Enhancer programs. This may be due to unique challenges (such as deployment) for enrollment among these specific populations.
Five States Take the Lead in PostbacCAS Participation
California, Texas, Pennsylvania, Colorado, New York, and Florida topped the list for highest rates of PostbacCAS participation. In addition, we added schools from five new states in 2021. This means that in 2022, a total of 28 states now have schools that participate in PostbacCAS.
Women Lead in Number of Applicants
It’s hard to believe that less than 100 years ago, women made up only 3.8% of college graduates. Over the last year, women accounted for 67% (more than 2/3!) of all verified PostbacCAS applicants!
These findings may seem surprising, but the number of women pursuing higher education has skyrocketed over the last few decades. In fact, a report by the Brookings Institution found that women also lead in graduate school enrollment and completion. However, it remains to be seen what long-term impacts the coronavirus pandemic may have on women in higher education, as women shoulder the burden of childcare and homeschooling on top of school and work.
In our report, men only made up only 33% of all applicants, which seems consistent with overall trends of a decline in men pursuing higher education nationwide.
Diversity is Still Lacking Overall
Despite an increase in women and Hispanic applicants, our report found that most prospective students were still white, accounting for almost a third of all applicants. Black males made up the lowest number of applicants, at only 4%.
Mobile Accessibility Matters
According to Google, mobile devices make up half of internet searches, so it’s no surprise that online applications would follow a similar pattern. Our PostbacCAS annual report found that 1 in 4 applicants used a mobile device to complete their applications (around 25%), and that’s a number we think will only continue to grow into the future. Thus, mobile-friendly applications may become increasingly crucial for Postbacc programs to attract more applicants in 2022.
What Do You Need to Know for the 2022 Enrollment Season?
While higher education has been hit hard by the pandemic, postbac applications are up from the previous year. Furthermore, remote learning seems to facilitate a more diverse pool of applicants. However, there’s still work to do, especially regarding increasing veteran or active-duty military enrollment and the overall diversity of postbac cohorts.
Want to take a deeper dive to understand what this means for your program in 2022? Contact Robert Ruiz, Managing Director of PostbacCAS, to get our full annual report.