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Friday 5: Things To Ponder This Week In Higher Ed 2/5/21

We hope you could join us for our Friday 5 Live this week.  We learned so much from Dr. Denise Swett as we discussed technology resources to support our students in 2021.  On February 12 we are excited to host Dr. Daniel Maxwell who will share recommendations for staying professionally connected during pandemic and insights into the job search process particularly for student services professionals. Come join us!



The spread of COVID-19 continues to impact the spring semester and longer-term educational goal attainment we learn this week. Duke University announced it may shift classes online as on-campus cases continue to climb.  Michigan State University has advised students to stay in their residences for two weeks following the same protocols issued last week at the University of Michigan.  Salve Regina ordered a shelter in place advisory citing both the rise in COVID cases as well as students refusing to comply with social gathering guidelines.  The pandemic’s impact on long-term educational goals continues to raise concerns. The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center released a report late last week indicating that the number of undergraduates who earned a credential in 2019-2020 was unchanged from the previous year - the first time in eight years there has been no increase.  The report specifically cites declines in associate degree and certificate earners.



Research from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health indicated that a third of students visiting their college’s counseling center in 2020 indicated mental health issues caused by the pandemic as their reason for seeking help. “Academic distress appears to be a key driver in seeking mental-health care during COVID-19, which may represent a broader experience of distress caused by academic worry” researchers report.  This research points to the continued importance of colleges and universities providing robust mental health services for students now and as they transition into post-pandemic learning.


42%: The number of students pursuing associate degrees who care for a child or a parent. 

24%: The number of students seeking a bachelor's degree who are parents.



During his confirmation hearings this week, Dr. Miguel Cardona emphasized the need to support career-tech pathways. He pledged to work to “reform” the department's Federal Student Aid office. Cardona praised community colleges and addressed their importance in rebuilding the U.S. economy. Senators asked Cardona, once confirmed, to move quickly to ensure gender identity and sexual orientation are protected classes and reform Title IX.


"The significant relationship between caregiving or parental responsibilities and consideration of pulling out of courses persists even after controlling for race, program level, age, gender, marital status, household income, and the amount of money taken out in loans." - new polling by Gallup and Lumina



Inside Higher Ed reports this week that community colleges are playing a greater role in bachelor’s degree attainment. 52 percent of students who received a first bachelor’s degree between 2008 and 2017 had previously attended community college.  One fourth of students earned an associate degree.  “Black, Hispanic and Asian students were more likely than their white counterparts to have attended community college, by up to 10 percentage points.”  Women were more likely to have attended community college on their path to earning a bachelor’s degree than male students.


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


This week PBS News Hour looks at credentialing programs developed by organizations like Year Up, Google, Amazon, and colleges and universities to prepare workers for jobs in technology. While traditional college enrollments have declined significantly, the demand for short-term credential programs is increasing. “We have five million young adults who are out of school, out of work, and don't have more than a high school degree. And on the demand side, we have literally millions [technical] jobs, jobs that require a certain level of skills, that are going unfulfilled” advises Gerald Chertavian, the founder and CEO of Year Up whose organization’s goal is to provide job opportunities for low-income students.  Experts envision credential programs could alter the traditional view of higher education in the coming years but advise students to be cautious about selecting programs.
Author: Meg Foster
February 5, 2021
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