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Friday 5: Things To Ponder This Week In Higher Ed 11/27/20

In this season of thanksgiving, the team at Innovative Educators is grateful for our colleagues in higher education!  We hope that you have time this holiday weekend for rest and renewal.



College students are traveling home this week as the Thanksgiving holiday gets under way, and many students will remain at home until the start of the spring semester.  Institutions, like St. Lawrence University, continue to shift learning online this week in response to increases in COVID.  College athletics continues to be impacted by COVID.  The head coach of the University of Tennessee’s men’s basketball team has tested positive for COVID while New Mexico State’s team has temporarily moved to Arizona where less strict state guidelines make it easier for the team to practice. We continue to monitor how COVID will impact both the end of the fall semester and plans for the spring 2021 semester.



The American Council on Education published a report this week highlighting the inequity in our nation’s educational systems.  Their research indicates that Black/African American and American Indian/Alaska Native students tend to have lower grade point averages than White or Asian peers while also being less likely to meet college readiness benchmarks on tests like the ACT and SAT.  The report indicates the importance of colleges and universities choosing to not utilize standardized tests in the admissions process.  The American Council on Education encourages colleges to document and halt patterns of discrimination while also training faculty to teach and support diverse student populations.


36 million: The number of U.S. adults with college credits but no degree 



Education Dive this week examines efforts at institutions like the University of Maryland Baltimore County to re-enroll students who have stopped out.  “Enrollment of learners who had previously stopped-out fell 15.6% this fall, helping drive overall undergraduate declines.” Stopped-out students are often struggling with financial challenges, health challenges, and during the pandemic may be prioritizing children’s needs over their own education. Virtual courses can be an attractive method to lure stopped-out students back to complete degrees. Stackable credentials and credit for prior learning are also programs geared towards assisting adult learners and/or stopped-out students to earn degrees.


Community college students are cancelling their plans at more than twice the rate of four-year college students. - Community College Research Center



The Community College Research Consortium published a concerning report this week highlighting the downward enrollment trend at community colleges.  Survey data indicates that more than “40% of households report that a prospective student is cancelling all plans for community college; another 15% are either taking fewer classes or switching programs.” CCRC’s research also concludes that students who cancel community college plans are those students who are the least economically stable.  This is a deeply concerning trend as the equity gap in education has grown as a result of the pandemic. Additionally worrisome is the concern that a group of students may not ever engage in higher education which could have long term economic impacts for a vulnerable portion of our population.


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The Hechinger Report examines an emerging enrollment trend: students who have bachelor’s degrees and are pursuing career and technical education programs. “One in 12 students now at community colleges — or more than 940,000 — previously earned a bachelor’s degree, according to the American Association of Community Colleges.”  The pandemic has highlighted the need for “middle skills” workers - those nurses and information systems technicians who have certificates or associate degrees.
Author: Meg Foster
November 27, 2020
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