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Friday 5: Things To Ponder This Week In Higher Ed 12/18/20

Hard to believe this is our final Friday 5 of 2020.  It’s been such a joy to bring this to your inbox each week as we examine the news of the week in higher education.  We hope that this winter break allows you time to pause, to rest and to renew.  This article on self-care during the winter months has been especially helpful to me.  Our Friday 5 Live podcast recordings pair nicely with a good walk or a warm beverage! Take care, and we look forward to connecting again in the new year!



Colleges and universities are wrapping up the fall 2020 semester.  On Monday, U.S. Senators announced a COVID relief bill that allocates 20 billion to higher education institutions falling far short of the 120 billion ask by the American Council on Education.  As institutions continue to struggle financially, The George Washington University announced the elimination of 339 positions to balance its budget.  Other institutions have announced massive cuts to academic programs and positions including the College of Saint Rose, which has eliminated sixteen majors and six master’s degrees, and Marquette University, which will eliminate 225 positions this year.



Inside Higher Education reports this week on the results of a Gallup/Lumina poll examining students’ experience this fall semester.  “Eighty-five percent of students whose curriculum was ‘completely’ in person said their education quality was ‘excellent’ or ‘very good,’ while 71 percent of those learning ‘completely’ online said the same.”  Thirty percent of students reported that they had considered discontinuing their education in the last six months.  Students cited COVID, emotional stress and the cost of attendance as the top reasons they would stop their education.  Half of the survey respondents indicated that COVID will likely or very likely hinder their ability to continue through college.


1 million: The number of COVID tests the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has administered as of this week



We’ve reported for weeks about the significant and troubling decline in community college enrollment.  Diverse Issues in Higher Education this week examines how institutions can address the drop in enrollment.  Researchers at the Center for Community College Student Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin recommend institutions clearly communicate with students, letting students know they are supported, as well as mitigating technology issues like access to Wifi and computers.


“Advising is one of those key practices related to student success. It requires a lot of interpersonal sensitivity.” -  said Dr. Jillian Kinzie, a senior scholar at Indiana University School of Education



The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) this year addressed the importance of undergraduate advising.  The data underscores that advisors who “actively listen, respect identity and culture, and care about students’ well-being” are essential to first-year and fourth-year undergraduates.  NSSE’s report highlights the key elements of undergraduate advising: listening, respecting and caring (known as the LRCs). Advising is critical to retention, and researchers emphasize that it must be a priority of institutions.


Follow our Friday 5 Live podcast available now on your favorite podcasting app!


The Chronicle of Higher Education examines academic calendars for the spring 2021 semester as many institutions are cancelling spring break out of concern of COVID spread.  Instead, institutions are offering periodic days off with the goal being to provide students days to focus on mental health. These days are scheduled mid-week in the hopes that this will discourage students from gathering unsafely or traveling. Harvard, Central Michigan and Youngstown State have announced plans for spring mental health days.
Author: Meg Foster
December 18, 2020
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