March 2018 - Planning for the Demographics Shift

May 18, 2018
  • Research
  • Access and Equity
  • Annual Meeting
  • Credentials
  • Technology
  • Veterans


Planning for the Demographics Shift

Our opening keynote speaker here at the AACRAO annual conference, Francisco Marmolejo, spoke about the global economic and demographic shifts that will impact higher education in the United States and abroad in the next 20 plus years. In his talk he suggested that everyone in the audience take a look at the 2018 World Development Report by the World Bank. This year’s report is the first to be entirely on the topic of education. Since his session, I have bumped into several attendees for whom this session, and others since, has sparked further thought on the topic of these global changes.  Specifically, the discussion about how their institution is or is not addressing how these changes will impact them through their strategic enrollment management (SEM) planning. Our profession is unlike most others in that we can, to some extent, see who our next customers will be by examining the traditional college student pipeline – the number and composition of secondary graduates in the geographic areas in which we serve. However, as we already know, this particular population represents a shrinking pond for many institutions in the United States. Some pondered how SEM leaders can begin to think strategically toward 15-20 years or more for their institution when there is such a pressure to address the very near future needs (e.g., next fall’s class size). I’d love to hear from anyone who has experience in how institutions are starting to address these much longer-term issues.

AACRAO Research Update

Invitation for Research Grants

Our first research grant awardee, Rebecca Mathern, is presenting her results on the role of the registrar in curriculum management this week at the annual conference. Applications for the 2018-2019 research grant will be accepted starting on May 1st. 

Invitation for a New Research Advisory Board Member

Starting October 1st, we will have an opening on our research advisory board.  If you are interested in joining us to help support the AACRAO research agenda, please review the details of the level of expected service, and let me know you are interested by submitting the information listed on the webpage above.

Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

Ecosystem Mapping of Entrepreneurial Assets

In an opinion piece in Education Dive, the authors discuss how ecosystem mapping of entrepreneurial assets can impact communities and the community college’s role in the process. According to the article, the basic idea behind ecosystem mapping of entrepreneurial assets is for an institution to collect information about the characteristics of a community that help entrepreneurs. This may include the strengths and skills of the local workforce, local businesses and institutions, and other resources for entrepreneurs. The article was framed around the work performed by 11 Appalachian community colleges in conjunction with the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) and the inspiration the project inspired with the California Community College Maker Initiative.

Technology in Higher Education

Ithika S +R recently released a paper, informed by their Bowen Colloquium’s discussions on technology in higher education. Three key environmental factors framed the discussion. First, that technology is changing the way we work and learn. Second, there is a lot of experimentation occurring with technology in higher education. Lastly, significant changes are occurring in the higher education market. For the foreseeable future, there will be reductions in the numbers of traditional students, while the market for adults who need to finish a degree, get an advanced degree, or retrain is large and growing.

The current state is promising. Effective educational programs with significant economies have been developed and deployed at the master’s level. Significant progress has been made with credentialing and micromaster’s programs. Despite these advances, there is great uncertainty about how and when on-campus education will evolve particularly given the need to focus on increased access, student success, and costs. More research is needed on improving student outcomes while meeting faculty needs.  Further complicating the process, the potential for impact is highly dependent on external third parties.

Next steps for institutional leaders:
  1. Foster dialogue and engage faculty leasers on campus in active experimentation with new learning technologies.

  2. Assess the prospects for providing education to constituents beyond the traditional campus community

  3. Collect and assess data on student performance and educational outcomes.

  4. Study and implement best practices.
Summarizing, the authors believe technology should lead to the possibility of greater attainment at lower costs per student. They warn, however, the focus should remain on improving educational outcomes for more students, never toward cost savings for their own sake.

10-Key Shifts in Higher Education

The Chronicle of Higher Education released its fourth annual Trends Report. The 10 key shifts they identified are:

  •  American Campus, Under Siege
  • Students in Charge
  • Loss of Global Prestige
  • Peer Review in Flux
  • Era of Deregulation
  • Student Success Up Front
  • Spotlight on Hazing
  • Rebranding the Ph.D.
  • Data Scientists in Demand
  • Black-College Renaissance

Master’s as the New Bachelor’s 

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) completed an analysis of data from three states, Colorado, Florida and Texas, to gain a better understanding of the payoff associated with master’s degrees. The author’s drew the following conclusions:

  • The program of study impacts the level of payoff
  • State economics also impact the level of payoff
  • Lowest paying fields tend to have fewer graduates
  • Federal level data sets are inadequate for supporting the full picture of master’s level payoff, and;
  • This lack of data has implications on rising student debt because students do not have enough information to make well-informed comparisons between the cost of the education and the expected wages.

Low-Cost Programs to Improve College Access and Persistence

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) reviewed five randomized interventions for improving college access and persistence and one of the influence of social norms on academic decisions. The bulletin linked above includes details on each program such as the length of the intervention studied, the target audience and the cost per student. The figure below from the bulletin summarizes their conclusions about these interventions.
Source: Figure 2

50-State Comparison of Academic Credit for Military Experience

A new report by the Education Commission of States (ECS) highlights the 29 states plus the District of Columbia which have a policy to award academic credit for military experience. Similar to other ECS reports, this one includes individual state profile pages. 

A State-Level View of Completion 

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center recently completed a signature report which examines 6-year completion rates of over 2 million students from the 2011 cohort. The author’s attempted to exclude data from high school students who were dual enrolled for fall 2011 by excluding all students who were 17 years old or younger during the fall 2011 semester. Their findings include:

  • More women completed college than men
  • About half of adult learners at four-year public institutions graduate within 6 years
  • The completion rate was highest for four-year, private nonprofit institutions (76%) 
  • Eight states had at least three in four students complete a degree within six years. 
  • Twenty four states were found to have higher than the national average

Degree and Nondegree Credentials Among the U.S. Labor Force

The U.S. Department of Education posted a new Data Point based on the Adult Training and Education Survey (ATES). The ATES:2016 added information on adults who have nondegree credentials, specifically “subbaccalaureate educational certificates and the two work credentials of certifications and licenses (e.g., Cisco Certified Network Associate [CCNA], cosmetology license, medical license).” For the purposes of this Data Point and the ATES survey “certifications and licenses document that the credential holder has the skills and knowledge needed to perform a specific job” and “licenses are issued by government agencies, while certifications are issued by credentialing bodies, often a professional or trade association.”  This data showed that at the time: 

  • 45% of the labor force help a postsecondary degree at this time
  • 31% of labor force participants had a nondegree credential
    • 13% of those did not have a postsecondary degree and this is their only work credential
    • 18% had a postsecondary degree and a nondegree credential
  • Among the nondegree holders the most common nondegree held was a license – held by more than half of the adults 
    • An additional 43% held a postsecondary certificate and 21% held a certification
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