“One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.”
- Malala Yousafzai
Much discussion this week across higher education news sources about the coronavirus (Covid-19), and its potential impact on colleges and universities. Inside Higher Ed reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that colleges “consider canceling upcoming foreign exchange programs and asking current program participants to return to their home countries.” Several academic conferences have been postponed or cancelled, and institutions are moving quickly to plan for potential shut downs. Organizations like The Online Learning Consortium and WCET are providing resources and guidance regarding transitioning coursework online should Covid-19 cause temporary campus shut downs. The Chronicle of Higher Education is tracking the most recent updates in Covid-19 and its impact on higher education.
Some good news to report this week regarding college completion rates. According to data released by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, most states continued to increase their six-year completion rates. Across the United States, six-year completion rates reached 60% which is the highest rate NSCRC has reported since it began collecting data eight years ago. Community colleges, many of which are embracing efforts like guided pathways, saw significant gains with 33 states showing increased completion rates at two-year institutions. Overall community colleges had completion rates of nearly 41% for those students who began their studies in 2013.
According to a Higher Learning Advocates policy brief, in the fall of 2017, 24% of students were parents, 37% were older than 25 and 49% were financially independent. Close to 40% of students were part-time.
Diverse Issues in Higher Education reports this week on a brief compiled by Higher Learning Advocates which re-envisions the profile of the traditional students attending our campuses. The policy group’s goal is to encourage institutions to more intentionally consider the needs of part-time students. Only 42% of part-time students complete a credential within eight years at a public four-year institution, compared to 66% of full-time students. Institutions should consider Competency-Based Education models, address affordability (nearly half of part-time students receive federal financial aid), and provide technology resources like online tutoring to better support part-time student completion rates.
The Associated Press reported this week on the Navy’s first unified, comprehensive educational strategy: The Education for Seapower Strategy 2020. This major overhaul to the Navy’s educational system would create a Navy community college to provide associate’s degrees at no cost to thousands of sailors and Marines. Most coursework would be done online through civilian universities and community colleges that partner with the Navy. The goal is to enroll the first students next year. Plans also include unifying schools within the existing naval university system and creating new policies which would encourage and reward those pursuing educational opportunities.
In an article published earlier this semester, an interdisciplinary team of researchers at Cornell has found that “as little as 10 minutes in a natural setting can help college students feel happier and lessen the effects of both physical and mental stress.” According to their research, time outside does not have to be strenuous to have benefits: students studied were either walking or sitting in nature. While this study focused on students ages 15-30, the recommendation to get outside into the natural world is probably good advice for all of us in the world of higher education!
Author: Meg Foster
March 6, 2020