All posts tagged enrollment

The Statistics That Matter

Mark Twain popularized the statement: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics.”

But anyone who is planning for what a college will need in 2020 needs to start with these statistics. Okay, they are projections, but the carefully researched and methodical look at 2020 by the National Center for Education Statistics needs to be the starting point for planning by most colleges.

We have written extensively about this in our report, The College of 2020: Students, but these latest statistics re-emphasize some of the trends we identified, and, in some cases sharpen them. They should shake most colleges out of any presumption that the potential student body is a homogenous high-school age kid looking to live on campus and cycle through in four short years. That model, for the most part, is gone forever.

Among the projections of the newly released statistics:

– The greatest growth in enrollment until 2020 will come among those aged 25-34 (21 percent), and the second largest percentage growth in enrollment will be among students aged 35 and over (16 percent). Enrollment among those aged 18-24 will increase by 9 percent.

– Enrollment of part-time students will increase by 16 percent from now until 2020, while enrollment of full-time students will increase by 11 percent.

– Enrollment of graduate students will increase 18 percent, while enrollment of undergraduates will increase by 12 percent.

– Enrollment of Hispanics will increase by 46 percent, and of blacks and Asian/Pacific Islander students by 25 percent. Enrollment of white students will increase by 1 percent.

These damn statistics should figure, at least in a small way, to every planning exercise a college is doing. In many cases, the new faces of the future student body will force colleges to change the way they do things.

You can’t go wrong if you are thinking about how to tailor your programs, your services, and your culture for an older student who has some work and college experience already, is a minority, and is scraping together money and time to take one or two courses at a time. How to reach them and appeal to them is your next job.

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Top 10 List: Prepare for The College of 2020

Is your college ready for 2020? Are you anticipating how society is going to change and trying to position yourself where your customer wants you to be? Or, are you stuck in the old mode of thinking that what we have is good enough?

This is a partial checklist of what colleges should to be doing to be ahead of the game:

1. Articulation — Is your college negotiating agreements with community colleges, other institutions with similar missions and programs as yours, and some for-profit providers? If not, it’s time to start.

2. Course availability — Are courses available from multiple entry points, such as online and in-person, at remote sites, and on e-devices such as cellphones and iPads? You can’t be afraid to experiment with this.

3. Part-time students — Are all of your services and people devoted to the needs of your full-time students? Or, are you offering special services, accommodation, and attention to part-timers? They will make up the fastest-growing percentage of new students. Show them you care.

4. Adult Students — Related to the last point. The greatest growth in your students is not going to be in 18-22 year-olds but in students in their 30s and older. What are you doing that makes them feel more welcome and comfortable?

5. Enrollment base —  Is your budget based on tuition from full-time students? Realize that they will become fewer in number, and the budget is going to have to work in course-by-course students, drop-in students, etc.

6. Degrees — Are you trying to offer every degree program yourself? Are you going to focus on what you do better than anyone else, and then find partnerships that cover other programs?

7. The finish line — It isn’t enough to get students in the door. Your college needs to figure out how to get them to finish their degrees. An estimated 37 million Americans have some college credit for no college degree. They need you to get better opportunities for themselves. Find them, and show them how you can help.

8. Blended studies — Higher education has been defined for too long by studies in specific disciplines when research, culture and particularly the working world are looking for connections between the disciplines. Look for ways to blend your curriculums and come up with new programs of study that combine them.

9. Give credit where credit is due. A growing trend in higher education is to give credit for life experience. Witness the growth of Western Governors University, where this concept is key. Is your college developing tests to measure the aptitudes and skills of your students? You’ll burn them out if you force them to relearn things they already know.

10. Culture – This is the foundation of your institution and your greatest asset. Make sure to develop programs and create opportunities that cultivate a distinct culture. It is your brand. It’s what sets you apart. How you help it grow and strengthen will make a difference.

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