For more than two years since the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, colleges and universities of almost every size and type have seen a decline in student enrollment, the impact of which is particularly severe among students from disadvantaged communities. Nationally, nearly one million students have been enrolled in higher education since the epidemic began. The recent wave of declining enrollment has clashed with another long-running trend: the demographic cliff. The number of first-year student chances to start college at age 18 is expected to drop by 15 percent or more due to the declining birth rate that began during the Great Recession in 2008.
To stabilize enrollment and ensure their long-term effectiveness, higher education institutions must, for the first time, look beyond the declining pool of full-time students and focus on the estimated 36 million students in the United States, including some college credits. Economic justice is also essential when a growing number of new jobs require education or training outside of high school-yet people from ethnic and racial minorities are unequally represented on the path to low-paying careers.
But reconnecting students who have stopped is not a self-fulfilling prophecy এবং nor is it as easy as politely inviting students to return. Returning to college takes a tremendous promise for any student, but especially for those who come from a low-income community or low-income background. Often, institutional policies and practices unnecessarily complicate the re-enrollment process by adding new hoops and barriers to an already challenging experience. Returning students, for example, often face a variety of financial hurdles and obstacles যেমন such as transcripts leading to unpaid tuition and credits stuck with fee balances.
Even these small financial or administrative burdens can create major barriers to re-admission of students. A study by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers found that 95 percent of higher education institutions withheld transcripts for one reason or another, with an unclaimed balance citing the most common reason (96 percent).
There are promising examples of how public policy changes can help overcome these unnecessary barriers to re-enrollment for returning students. In the state of Buckeye, the Ohio Department of Higher Education College has launched the Comeback Program, which issues formal guidelines on how universally supported colleges and universities can forgive outstanding student loans in exchange for new tuition revenue. The Tennessee Reconnect program is offering state-funded, last-dollar scholarships for adult students to make re-enrollment more affordable.
Some institutions are establishing creative financial aid strategies to reduce the financial burden and motivate students to return. The Marine College of Northern California has set up a COVID-19 relief fund to provide 2,000 cash grants to students who were shut down during the epidemic.
It is crucial to remove barriers to access and purchasing power, we must go further and examine ways in which institutional measures and policies hinder re-enrollment and acquisition. At National University, where I work, more than 80 percent of students transfer who bring in existing college credit. We’ve taken steps to redesign our adoption and onboarding process to make it easier for students to audit their degrees. Specifically, we used our student information system to help students create and visualize a degree — and to understand how their existing transferable credits and pre-learning credits could be calculated for a degree or certificate. This approach has saved students about $ 25 million in tuition costs over a three-year period — and enabled us to skip more than 14,500 courses by providing credit for prior learning.
Organizations and policy makers must invest and expand into packaging support services – such as coaching, career counseling and basic needs support – to help overcome barriers to successful enrollment and re-entry.
New York State legislators have proposed legislation that would require public colleges and universities to review re-enrollment policies that apply to students on mental health-related absence leave.
Meanwhile, the United Negro College Fund has used public funds to amalgamate a network of eight historically black colleges and universities and a predominantly black institution to re-enroll 4,000 alumni. Colleges have partnered with the nonprofit InsideTrack to provide one-on-one coaching to alumni of HBCU, remove barriers and help returning students come up with a plan to resume their education.
In fact, the network and the consortium can help move the re-enrollment work forward on a larger scale. The Institute for Higher Education Policy Degree has created the Van Dew initiative, which includes more than 190 institutions in 23 states. They recently published a report on emerging best practices in the vicinity of degree recovery. The report notes that many incomplete “within just a few courses to complete a degree” – it follows that the potential to successfully re-enroll a significant number of students and help them finish is very within reach.
Alumni re-enrollment not only supports institutional financial health and sustainability: it is also an important investment in the economic development of individuals and the communities in which they live. The The Economics of Education Review Kansas State University economist Amanda P. recently. A study by Golk published that students who re-enroll and complete their bachelor’s degree earn $ 4,294 more as soon as they graduate, and the average annual income increases by $ 1,121. They are the income that is the regional tax base and the reinvestment in local businesses, which helps us move our local economy forward.
Re-enrollment can help restore hope for students who have not always served well during their first experience of higher education. In order to restore the confidence of the students we want to re-enroll, we need to redesign our enrollment systems and processes to reflect the complex realities এবং and living experiences of returning students. In the face of uncertain enrollment prospects, colleges and universities have a new mandatory requirement to involve students who are already on the learning journey, and help them finish what they started.