EduShare - Higher Ed Blog & News


Friday 5: Things To Ponder This Week In Higher Ed 1/14/22

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      College Enrollment Lowest in 50 Years

      The continued drop in college enrollment dominated higher education headlines this week. U.S. colleges and universities saw a drop of nearly 500,000 undergraduate students in the fall of 2021. There are over one million fewer college students today than when the pandemic began. This is the largest two-year decrease in 50 years. Undergraduate enrollment has declined 6.6% since 2019 with community colleges continuing to bear the brunt of enrollment declines. According to Doug Shapiro of the National Student Clearinghouse, this “could be the beginning of a whole generation of students rethinking the value of college itself…if that were the case, this is much more serious than just a temporary pandemic-related disruption." Higher education analysts worry that students are choosing the short-term benefits of high hourly wage versus the long-term benefits of a college education. 

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      Inside Higher Ed reports this week on the state of student mental health at the beginning of the spring semester. In a recent survey conducted by TimelyMD, 88% of students report that they believe there is a mental health crisis on college campuses. Over half of students are feeling more stress and anxiety than they did last January and that emotional distress is a direct result of the continued COVID pandemic and Delta and Omicron variants. Nearly 70% of respondents said they have or intend to seek mental health help. Institutions will need to continue to prioritize student access to mental health resources as the pandemic’s impacts linger.

  • 4

    While much focus has been on student mental health, the pandemic continues to negatively impact the mental health of student-facing staff and faculty. Diverse Issues in Higher Education reports this week on the acute stress and burn-out experienced by those working directly to support college students. According to Dr. Kevin Kruger, president of NASPA, early and mid-level student affairs professionals are reporting high levels of stress and feelings of being overwhelmed by their work. Younger professionals, particularly those in residence life, are reporting they are leaving higher education indicating that “the amount of crisis management now baked into their jobs is not what they had expected. And the pay they often receive is not commensurate with their education or responsibilities.” Staff and faculty, who are often not trained to address student mental health challenges, are now finding themselves supporting students who are in mental distress.

  • 5

    Sixteen top-ranked private nonprofit universities, including Yale, Georgetown and MIT, are being sued by a group of students who allege that the institutions have engaged in a “price-fixing scheme that favors wealthy applicants and drives up the price of college.” In a statement, lawyers representing the students maintain that these institutions have created admissions systems that favor the children of past donors or potential future donors or give priority to waitlisted applicants who will not need financial aid. All the institutions named are part of the 568 Presidents Group, a group of more than two dozen colleges who collaborate on a need-based financial aid system in accordance with federal law. The lawsuit maintains that by working together on their financial aid formulas, these institutions have aimed to reduce competition among themselves and inflated the price of attendance for students who need financial aid.

Author: Meg Foster
January 14, 2022
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