Increased training enrollments fell total to new lows in the course of the spring 2021 semester, in line with new knowledge launched by the Nationwide Scholar Clearinghouse Analysis Middle. In only one 12 months, the U.S. skilled a decline of three.5 %, or 603,000 college students, from the earlier 12 months, seven instances worse than the decline a 12 months earlier.
Maybe the toughest hit sector in larger training, group faculties have the steepest street towards restoration in closing their enrollment, persistence, retention, and completion gaps—particularly amongst college students of colour and low-income college students. In keeping with a latest article revealed by the American Affiliation of Neighborhood Schools, group school persistence charges dropped 3.5 proportion factors to 58.5 %—the most important decline in all establishment sectors. Retention charges additionally declined essentially the most in the neighborhood school sector, down 2.1 proportion factors to 51.6 %. And group school enrollment dropped essentially the most from low-income excessive colleges.
In reflection of those realities for our nation’s group faculties, now’s the time to combine new concepts, new applied sciences, new mindsets, and a brand new dedication towards the removing of each barrier to pupil success. The subsequent technology of group school presidents—myself included—should guarantee we’re empowering our college and workers to take our establishments to new heights and notice the total potential of our respective institutional missions and visions for our college students.
Neighborhood school educators stand on the entrance traces of our communities, doing work that helps to eradicate poverty and notice an equitable future. Nonetheless, with out adequate institutional assets and helps, our entrance traces will basically succumb to the firing line.
Beneath are three key factors for group faculties to contemplate past the pandemic:
Renewed Dedication to Know-how Integrations
The previous 18 months introduced an onslaught of efforts from group faculties to rapidly develop and roll out continuity-of-service plans. Whereas some establishments have been higher resourced and ready than others, on-line training and help companies turned the norm. Throughout this time, several discoveries were made within the academy. For one, institutions quickly learned which faculty and staff members lacked the skill sets to serve students remotely. In addition, the times exposed how many students were ill-prepared to learn through this medium.
As our institutions work aggressively to recover from the pandemic, technology integrations ought to be at the forefront of all strategic plans moving forward. Using comprehensive data, institutions should examine how effective online education and student support services have been and can be toward increased efficiencies and effectiveness in student success. Furthermore, multiple modalities of learning will prove essential in meeting the educational demands of today’s and tomorrow’s students.
Face-to-face instruction and supports will always have their place. However, the future of society, industry, and globalization depends on innovative and disruptive technologies. Community colleges must envision educational technology in the same manner.
Renewed Commitment to Telework and Alternative Work Scheduling
Community colleges, in an effort to ensure relevance in the evolving workforce and educational market, must embrace telecommuting and alternative work scheduling beyond the pandemic. Why? Because remote learning has changed student expectations toward learning and accessibility, and faculty and staff thoughts toward the delivery of quality instruction and service remotely have been affected as well. In addition, with the progression of coronavirus variants and the various demands on home life, more faculty and staff are likely to request to serve students away from campus.
Now, the real question is how each community college should institute telework and alternative work scheduling practices and policies appropriately. Both accommodations are powerful tools available to the institution. Although they require a great deal of responsibility in instituting or continuing, these accommodations can improve an institution’s ability to serve students creatively and continuously.
The key here is strategy and intentionality. Each institution must strategize its pathway toward integration and embrace fully the urgency at hand to ensure its workforce and educational marketplace stays relevant. While there will be critics, doubters, and outright barriers to implementation, each community college must chart its course toward implementation in alignment with the institutional mission.
One step could certainly be to create a task force at your institution—consisting of faculty and staff from human resources, information technology, and any additional key areas—to select tech tools to aid in personnel and workflow accountability. New policies and procedures would also need to be established.
Commitment to the Rebound of Our Communities and Industry
Interestingly, society has continued to question the purpose of higher education. As time has progressed, industry has positioned itself to deliver education in a matter that is more efficient and effective to business needs. This is not to imply that higher education is on the road to extinction. However, the institution as we know it has lost its once-dominant foothold.
There is no sector within higher education better prepared to quickly create programs based on industry and community needs than community colleges. The relevance of our sector depends on our ability to pivot quickly and act with appropriate urgency. By infusing more technology in the student experience and instituting workplace innovations beyond the pandemic, community colleges are taking the appropriate steps to secure and grow their market share in the ever-more-competitive educational and industrial marketplace.