What is college for? Gov. Shapiro raises the question. Higher ed leaders are listening. — from The Philadelphia Inquirer by Will Bunch; with thanks to Ray Schroeder out on LinkedIn for the resource
Pa.’s new governor Josh Shapiro’s first move was to question the need of a college diploma as a job credential. U.S. universities, pay attention.

Excerpt:

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — What is college actually for?

No one expected this to be the initial question raised by Pennsylvania’s new governor, Josh Shapiro, in his first full day on the job. While he may not have stated it explicitly, this was the essence of the Democrat’s very first executive order, which opened up some 92% of job listings in state government — about 65,000 in all — to applicants who don’t have a four-year college degree.

In branding degree requirements for many jobs as “arbitrary” and declaring “there are many different pathways to success,” the Keystone State’s new chief executive was tugging at the shaky Jenga block that has undergirded the appalling rise of a $1.75 trillion student debt bomb in the U.S. and led, arguably, to a college/non-college divide driving our nation’s bitter politics. The notion is this: You can’t make it in 21st-century America without that most expensive piece of sheepskin: the college diploma.

So the $64,000 question (OK, $80,000 … for one year on some elite private campuses) is this: If you don’t need the credential, do you actually need college?

Something is clearly gained by giving America’s young people more career options that won’t contribute to that $1.75 trillion college debt bomb. But are we talking enough about what could be lost in a new system that not only devalues the university but also seems to ratify a dubious idea — that higher education is almost solely about careerism, and not the wider knowledge and critical-thinking skills that come from liberal arts learning?

From DSC:
To me — and to many other parents and families — it all boils down to the price tag of obtaining a liberal arts education. It’s one thing to get a liberal arts education at $5K per year. It’s another thing when the pricetag runs at $40K and above (per year)! Most people ARE FORCED to question the ROI of a liberal arts education. They simply have to.

On a relevant tangent here…many inside the academy have traditionally looked with disdain at the corporate world. The thinking went something like this:

Business! Ha! We are not a business! Students are not customers. Don’t ever compare us to the corporate world.

Having spent half of my career in the corporate world, I do not subscribe to that perspective. In fact, I’d like to ask those who still hold this point of view:
  • Where else can you pay tens of thousands of dollars for something and not be treated as a customer?! Don’t you typically expect value on your own purchases and positive returns on your investments?
  • How will you collaborate with the corporate world if you look upon them with disdain?!

But now that colleges and universities enrollments are not doing so well, perhaps there will be more openness to change and towards developing more impactful collaborations.

 

Phoenix Goes Nonprofit? — from read.letterhead.email by Paul Fain

Excerpt:

“We’re seeing dramatically increased competitive intensity,” he said. “Being online is no longer a differentiator.”

Also from Paul Fain:

A true alternative to a four-year college? — from workshift.opencampusmedia.org
The Marcy Lab School in New York City aims to offer a traditional college experience in just one year. We talked with co-founder Reuben Ogbonna about experimentation, growth, and student choice in higher ed.

Times Square in New York City -- Photo by Paulo Silva via Unsplash

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

In our current landscape, jobs for young people that fall into this category are incredibly slim, but we see this as our opportunity to systematically remove the barriers, such as degree requirements, that shut out students like ours. Together with our partners, we are actively reframing what early talent success can look like.

Partners that “get it” are energized by the ability to co-create innovative new programs like apprenticeships with us directly. They are incredibly student-centric, and firmly believe in the power of growth for our students in professional environments that are fun, challenging, rewarding, and safe.

The success of our innovative model has been through intentional experimentation and thoughtful listening to what is working and not working, and then iterating on it. 

 

It takes a village — from chieflearningofficer.com by Joe Mitchell
Colleges, companies and training providers have a unique opportunity to work together to address tech worker shortages and create more opportunities and upward mobility.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

But what higher education institutions and companies need isn’t a totally new approach that ignores the old systems — it’s someone to act as connective tissue between them. Fortunately, an emerging cadre of education providers are doing just that: developing the curriculum to help students earn industry-recognized credentials that can help them get good jobs right away in high-demand fields, and then working with universities to get that curriculum to their students.

The environment seems ripe for this type of collaboration.2020 survey of business leaders found that 70 percent think higher education institutions should be more involved in job training. Nearly 90 percent say colleges and universities could help their students learn industry-specific knowledge and advanced technical skills.

 

From DSC:
Perhaps such a network type of setup could provide audio-visual-based links that people could provide to one another.

 

Some Day In Higher Education: Predictions And Possibilities For A Jolly Academic New Year — from forbes.com by Ann Kirschner

Excerpt:

  • Partnering with the private sector. Some university will have a clear strategy and adequate staff to develop strategic partnerships with key regional economic players. These would include internship/apprenticeship student opportunities and curricular initiatives including part-time teaching roles for professors of practice in rapidly changing technologies.
  • Looking for presidential talent in new places. Some university will vet its new president for skills and experience as leaders of complex organizations in an era of disruption, with a Ph.D. as a optional nice-to-have. There just aren’t enough good ex-provosts and deans to go around.
  • An educated board of trustees. Some university will provide its trustees with a realistic understanding of the highly competitive and complex world of higher education today. Nostalgia for the good old days and a roomful of well-meaning financial experts can strangle innovation at a time when the university should be the leader in solving the world’s challenges, starting with the exploding need for advanced, scalable, affordable education.

Redefining the professoriate. Some university will reject the institutional shame of relying on overworked and underpaid adjunct faculty and on graduate students who are headed for those same dead-end adjunct positions. Some university will evolve the tenure process into one that celebrates and supports faculty as innovative teachers and rewards their critical role in student career development and service to the university.

 

From DSC:
Our son recently took a 3-day intensive course on the Business of Acting. It was offered by the folks at “My College Audition” — and importantly, the course was not offered by the university where he is currently working on a BFA in Acting. By the way, aspiring performing arts students may find this site very beneficial/helpful as well. (Example blog posting here.)

mycollegeaudition.com/

The course was actually three hours of learning on a Sunday night, a Monday night, and a Tuesday night from 6-9pm.

The business of acting -- a 3-day virtual intensive course from mycollegeaudition.com

He learned things that he mentioned have not been taught in his undergrad program (at least not so far). When I asked him what he liked most about the course, he said:

  • These people are out there doing this (DSC insert: To me, this sounds like the use of adjunct faculty in higher ed)
  • There were 9 speakers in the 9 hours of classtime
  • They relayed plenty of resources that were very helpful and practical. He’s looking forward to pursuing these leads further.

He didn’t like that there were no discussion avenues/forums available. And as a paying parent, I didn’t like that we had to pay for yet another course and content that he wasn’t getting at his university. It may be that the university that he’s studying at will offer such a course later in the curriculum. But after two years of college experience, he hasn’t come across anything this practical and he is eagerly seeking out this type of practical/future-focused information. In fact, it’s critical to him staying with acting…or not. He needs this information sooner in his program.

It made me reflect on the place of adjunct faculty within higher education — folks who are out there “doing” what they are teaching about. They tend to be more up-to-date in their real-world knowledge. Sabbaticals are helpful in this regard for full-time faculty, but they don’t come around nearly enough to keep one’s practical, career-oriented knowledgebase up-to-date.

Again, this dilemma is to be expected, given our current higher education learning ecosystem. Faculties’ plates are full. They don’t have time to pursue this kind of endeavor in addition to their daily responsibilities. Staff aren’t able to be out there “doing” these things either.

This brings me back to design thinking. We’ve got to come up with better ways of offering student-centered education, programming, and content/resources.

My son walked away shaking his head a bit regarding his current university. At a time when students and families are questioning the return on their investments in traditional institutions of higher education, this issue needs to be taken very seriously. 


Also potentially relevant for some of the performing arts students out there:


 

Local private colleges slash tuition prices as enrollment declines — from news.yahoo.com by Jason Law

Excerpts:

“By reducing the published price, we certainly would hope that more people would apply,” Alexander said. “If they see a sticker price of $60,000 or more, there’s research out there that says 60% of them don’t take the next step to apply or figure out if they can afford it.”

One of the most frustrating aspects for consumers, the Hechinger Report found, is the difference between a school’s sticker price—its published tuition cost–and the actual price a student will pay after scholarships and institutional aid are subtracted.

“Many families are not aware that some students do not pay the full sticker price for college. Only 18% of college-bound families agree that the amount families actually pay is lower than the price advertised by the school,” a 2022 Sallie Mae College Confidence report found.

Student Loan Debt: 2022 Statistics and Outlook — from investopedia.com by Daniel Kurt, Thomas Brock, and Amanda Jackson; with thanks to Ray Schroeder for posting this on LinkedIn
The numbers are staggering—and still on the rise

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The total amount of outstanding student loan debt in the United States is $1.77 trillion.
  • Soaring college costs and pressure to compete in the job marketplace are big factors for student loan debt.
  • Student loans are the most common form of educational debt, followed by credit cards and other types of credit.
  • Delinquency statistics may be understated because of the relief provided to student loan borrowers by the White House.
  • Borrowers who don’t complete their degrees are more likely to default.

Congress to Boost Pell Grant by $500 — from insidehighered.com by Katherine Knott
While the draft spending plan for fiscal year 2023 provides more funding for several programs, higher education groups and advocates had hoped for higher increases.

 
Imagine my delight when co-founder of Coursera Daphne Koehler came into my office in 2012 to explain the radical concept behind her new business. What if you could Partner with the World’s best universities and professors to provide FREE online courses? Like other successful FREEMIUM models, you monetize the platform downstream by creating massive network effects and convert a small percentage to paying customers (we had invested in other successful FREEMIUM models such as Facebook, Twitter, Spotify and Snap, so why wouldn’t that work here?)

Today, over 113 million learners from around the world access the platform to gain knowledge, to earn certificates and get diplomas from the top universities.

The Coursera ride has been amazing for most of the past decade, with over 100 million students, 200 universities and 5000 courses on the platform. And while the vast majority of the students on Coursera don’t pay a dime, the company has built a business with over $500 million in revenue and nearly a $2 billion market cap today.

Estimates are for the company to do $520 million in revenue in 2022, up from $415 million in 2021 and estimated $623 million in 2023. Coursera is losing money currently but has $424 million in cash and could turn profitable if it prioritized that and sells at 1.3x 2023 sales.

 

The incredible shrinking future of college — from vox.com by Kevin Carey

Excerpt:

The future looks very different in some parts of the country than in others, and will also vary among national four-year universities, regional universities like Ship, and community colleges. Grawe projects that, despite the overall demographic decline, demand for national four-year universities on the West Coast will increase by more than 7.5 percent between now and the mid-2030s. But in states like New York, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Louisiana, it will decline by 15 percent or more.

Higher ed’s eight-decade run of unbroken good fortune may be about to end.

Demand for regional four-year universities, per Grawe, will drop by at least 7.5 percent across New England, the mid-Atlantic, and Southern states other than Florida and Texas, with smaller declines in the Great Plains. Community colleges will be hit hard in most places other than Florida, which has a robust two-year system with a large Latino population.

The next generation of higher education leaders will take scarcity as a given and “return on investment” as both sales pitch and state of mind.

The decline of American higher education — from youtube.com by Bryan Alexander and Kevin Carey

 

Most Colleges Omit or Understate Net Costs in Financial-Aid Offers, Federal Watchdog Finds — from chronicle.com by Eric Hoover

Excerpt:

Nine out of 10 colleges either exclude or understate the net cost of attendance in their financial-aid offers to students, according to estimates published in a new report by the Government Accountability Office. The watchdog agency recommended that Congress consider legislation that would require institutions to provide “clear and standard information.”

The lack of clarity makes it hard for students to decide where to enroll and how much to borrow.

The report, published on Monday, paints a troubling picture of an industry that makes it difficult for consumers to understand the bottom line by presenting insufficient if not downright misleading information. Federal law does not require colleges to present financial-aid offers in a clear, consistent way to all students.

Higher ed faces ‘deteriorating’ outlook in 2023, Fitch says — from highereddive.com by Rick Seltzer

Dive Brief (excerpt):

  • U.S. higher education faces a stable but deteriorating credit outlook in 2023, Fitch Ratings said Thursday, taking a more pessimistic view of the sector’s future than it had at the same time last year.
  • Operating performance at colleges and universities will be pressured by enrollment, labor and wage challenges, according to the bond ratings agency. Colleges have been able to raise tuition slightly because of inflation, but additional revenue they generate generally isn’t expected to be enough to offset rising costs.

Merger Watch: Don’t wait too long to find a merger partner. Closure does not benefit anybody. — from highereddive.com by Ricardo Azziz
Leaders fail students, employees and communities when they embrace a strategy of hope in the face of overwhelming evidence.

Excerpt:

While not all institutions can (or should be) saved, most institutional closures reflect the failure of past governing boards to face the fiscal reality of their institution — and to plan accordingly and in a timely manner. Leaders should always consider and, if necessary, pursue potential partnerships, mergers, or consolidations before a school has exhausted its financial and political capital. The inability or unwillingness of many leaders to take such action is reflected in the fact that the number of institutional closures in higher education far outweighs the number of successful mergers.

In fact, the risk of closure can be predicted. In a prior analysis several coauthors and I reported on a number of risk factors predictive of closure, noting that most schools at risk for closure are small and financially fragile, with declining enrollment and limited resources to mount significant online programs. While there are many clear signs that a school is at risk for closure, the major challenge to mounting a response seems to be the unwillingness of institutional leaders to understand, face and act on these signs.

What can colleges learn from degrees awarded in the fast-shrinking journalism field? — from highereddive.com by Lilah Burke
Bachelor’s degrees offer solid payoffs, while grad programs post mixed returns, researchers find. But many students don’t go on to work in the field.

Excerpt:

Journalism jobs are hard to find. But it’s nice work when you can get it.

That’s the takeaway from a new report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce on the payoff of journalism programs. An analysis of federal education and labor data reveals that journalism and communication bachelor’s degrees offer moderate payoff to their graduates, but only 15% of majors end up working in the field early in their careers. Newsroom employment has declined 26% since 2008, and researchers predict it will fall 3% over the next nine years.


Addendum on 12/10/22:

A Sectorwide Approach to Higher Ed’s Future — from insidehighered.com by Sylvia M. Burwell
Institutions must seek ways to differentiate themselves even as they work together to address common challenges facing all of higher education, writes Sylvia M. Burwell.

We have to think differently about the future of higher education. And rather than limit our work to what one type of institution or program can achieve, we should look across the entire higher education sector.

A sectorwide [insert DSC: system-wide] approach is needed because the economics of higher education are not going to hold.

To evolve our thinking on these questions, we should focus on the value proposition of higher education and market differentiation.

 

2023 Higher Education Trend Watch — from educause.edu

2023 Higher Education Trend Watch

Also see:

2023 Strategic Trends Glossary — from educause.edu

Excerpts:

  • Closer alignment of higher education with workforce needs and skills-based learning
  • Continuation and normalization of hybrid and online learning
  • Continued adoption and normalization of hybrid and remote work arrangements
  • Continued resignation and migration of leaders and staff from higher education institutions
  • Declining public funding for higher education
  • …and more
 

Higher Ed Is a Land of Dead-End Jobs — from chronicle.com by Kevin R. McClure
Colleges have done a spectacularly bad job of managing talent.

Excerpt:

It’s hard to conclude anything other than that higher education has done a spectacularly bad job of managing talent. Campuses have evolved over centuries and dedicated resources to perfect the art and science of human development, while largely outsourcing or ignoring the professional growth and learning of their employees. Rather than draw upon their own experts to develop and retain workers, institutions let employees burn out, and then replace them.

When I floated the idea of dead-end jobs in higher education on Twitter, I was floored by the volume and breadth of responses.

From DSC:
Having worked half of my career in the corporate world and the other half within higher education, I would agree with the main points of this article. There are very few job pathways within the world of higher education.

Looking at the one pathway that I’ve seen…it surprises me to think that faculty members who have taught in the classroom and/or served as department chairs or deans for X years are then put into the Provost position and expected to know how to do that job. There is little — if any — training on project management, how to think more strategically and with greater vision, change management, managing budgets, and managing/motivating people.

 

How to Communicate with Brevity — from qaspire.com by Tanmay Vora; with thanks to Roberto Ferraro for this resource
We live in a world of information overload. In such a world, communicating with brevity is a gift to others.

 

Udacity’s Train-to-Hire Program Now Available in AWS Marketplace — from prnewswire.com by Udacity; with thanks to GSV for this resource

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Nov. 29, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Udacity, the digital talent transformation platform, today announced the availability of its Train-to-Hire Program in AWS Marketplace, a digital catalog with thousands of software listings from independent software vendors that make it easy to find, test, buy, and deploy software that runs on Amazon Web Services (AWS). With the addition of this program, AWS customers can now address technical talent gaps in their organizations by working with Udacity to create customizable, hands-on learning programs that attract and upskill net-new sources of talent. Through these Train-to-Hire Programs, AWS customers can transform the breadth and depth of their talent pipelines, lowering recruiting costs for in-demand roles and improving the diversity of their workforce by offering new opportunities to candidates from underrepresented communities.

As enrollment falls and public skepticism grows, some colleges are cutting their prices — from hechingerreport.org by Jon Marcus
The cost of college has stopped rising faster than inflation for the first time since the 1980s

Excerpt:

Colby-Sawyer College, a nearly 200-year-old institution that inhabits a campus in the heart of this bucolic scene, has announced that it will lower its tuition next year for undergraduates by 62 percent, from $46,364 to $17,500.

The move is among the first of what experts are predicting could be many colleges’ so-called tuition resets. Other schools are adjusting what they charge in different ways.

Fewer than one in five families understand that the “sticker price” colleges put on their websites and in their catalogs is almost certainly more than they will have to pay, and six in 10 say it’s made them walk away without even bothering to apply.

From DSC:
That’s very understandable on that last item/quote.

Next Chapter Matters – Two More Universities Launch Midlife Programs For Every Budget — from forbes.com by Avivah Wittenberg-Cox; with thanks to Ray Schroeder out on LinkedIn for this resource

Excerpt:

Whether you are retiring with millions in the bank or stuck at midlife desperately dreaming of a career pivot, there may soon be a university program for you. The latest offerings coming to the market are a testament to the diversity that is likely to develop as educational institutions start to respond to ageing societies and the future of work.

The idea that you get all the education you need up front in a four-year bundle at 18, should fast fade as careers lengthen towards the six-decade mark and retirement ages drift ever upward. There are now 12 programs on offer, and the two latest launching this year in the US are the University of Chicago and the University of Colorado Denver. (I’ll be looking at programs launching in Europe next).

Report: Progress on College Completion Rates Stalls — from insidehighered.com by Safia Abdulahi; with thanks to GSV for this resource

Excerpt:

A new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center shows that college completion rates have stagnated, with 62.3 percent of students who enrolled in 2016 completing a degree by June 2022—virtually unchanged from last year’s six-year completion rate of 62.2 percent.

Is This the Beginning of the End of the ‘U.S. News’ Rankings’ Dominance? — from chronicle.com by Francie Diep

Excerpt:

If the law deans’ criticism sounds familiar, it’s because it echoes the complaints that have been leveled for decades against an even bigger project: the magazine’s ranking of undergraduate colleges and universities. There, too, critics have said the magazine’s metrics are flawed, opaque, and harm equity efforts.

But seldom have institutions acted on their concerns, as Yale and its peers have recently. And if elite colleges are willing to withdraw their support from one U.S. News ranking in the name of equity, why not another? In other words, is the undergraduate ranking the next venue for this kind of protest?

Not yet.

LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky: Skills, Not Degrees, Matter Most in Hiring — from hbr.org

Summary:

Ryan Roslansky, the CEO of LinkedIn, thinks the site should be a place where its members’ billions of years of collective work experience should be freed to upskill anyone, anywhere, any time. Skills, more than degrees or pedigrees, are the true measure of what makes a great new hire, he argues, especially as the workforce evolves in fast and dramatic ways.

 

Buyer Beware: First-Year Earnings and Debt for 37,000 College Majors at 4,400 Institutions — from cew.georgetown.edu

Summary:

Did you know that in the first year after graduation you can make more money with an associate’s degree in nursing from Santa Rosa Junior College in California than with a graduate degree from some programs at Harvard University? Data from the College Scorecard reveal many more surprising details of post-college outcomes for students and families about that all-important first year after graduation. Buyer Beware: First-Year Earnings and Debt for 37,000 College Majors at 4,400 Institutions finds that first-year earnings for the same degree in the same major can vary by $80,000 at different colleges and universities. It also reveals that workers with less education can often make more than workers with more education, and that higher levels of education do not always result in higher student loan payments.

Speaking of Georgetown, also see:

In the U.S. alone, more than 39 million students leave college without a degree. Black, Latino, and Native American students are overrepresented in this population.

SCS’s program is designed to help students of all backgrounds complete their degrees and unlock their earning potential. The degree’s most recent on-campus cohort is composed of 62% students of color and 40% military-connected learners. SCS is introducing this fully online degree to scale this program to learners worldwide.

 
© 2022 | Daniel Christian