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Friday 5: Things To Ponder This Week In Higher Ed 5/22/20

The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.

 E.E. Cummings  

We were fortunate to host Laura Clark on our  Friday 5 Live today.  Laura shared with us her insights on moving forward towards the fall semester and how we can support our learners and one another.  We so appreciate Laura’s positive energy!  Please join us for our next Friday 5 Live on June 5.


Updates on COVID-19 and Higher Education

Colleges and universities are creatively addressing how to confer degrees to students at a distance, and families are joining in the celebrations.  An image of a student graduating from Xavier University on a stage built by her father in their driveway was shared widely across media platforms this week. It seems especially important these days to find ways to celebrate such accomplishments! We send our congratulations to the Class of 2020!  The Chronicle continues its extensive reporting this week as well as Inside Higher EdWCET provides updates on relevant federal policy changes.


Community Colleges Planning for Virtual Fall Semesters

While many four-year institutions announced plans this week for a face-to-face fall semester, community colleges are largely doing the opposite.  Community college leaders cited challenges with scaling public health safety interventions like temperature checks or COVID testing.  Many community colleges also have solely commuter populations, and thus, do not have the same residential considerations of their four-year counterparts. Ivy Tech in Indiana does plan to provide flexible fall programming including hybrid and in-person class offerings.

"As we got to looking at the fall semester, it was really a science and math problem.” - Joe May, president of the Dallas County Community College District


Trying to Freeze Summer Melt

The Hechinger Report this week examines programs that are reaching out to students to try to halt the “summer melt” phenomenon.  Between 10 and 20% of admitted graduating seniors in a given year will not show up on college campuses come the fall.  Programs like Beyond 12 and Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative are using texting and coaching to ensure more high school graduates attend college in the fall.

 One-third of students said they would transfer to another institution if their college only had online options (according to Niche survey results)


What Students Want The Fall Semester To Look Like

As campuses grapple with planning for the fall semester, Niche surveyed 10,000 high school seniors and current college students to find out what scenario they would most like to see for the fall semester. The survey results: students want to learn on campus...if it can be done safely.  Many institutions announced plans this week for a fall semester that ends at Thanksgiving or moves to remote learning.  The University of South Carolina is one institution moving in this direction for the fall. As far as tuition for the fall: 79% of students said they thought tuition should be less for online or hybrid classes.  In related news, Education Dive reports on students suing for tuition refunds from spring semester.


The Continued Financial Fall Out of COVID

Inside Higher Ed reported this week on the continued financial stress caused by COVID: cuts to administration, reduced pay for faculty and employees, hiring freezes, eliminating academic programs.  Three universities have taken the step of declaring financial exigency: Lincoln University in Missouri, Central Washington University and Missouri Western State University.  This status allows institutions to lay off tenured faculty members under American Association of University Professors guidelines.

Author: Meg Foster
May 22, 2020
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