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6 Strategies Higher Ed Can Implement to Address Post-Pandemic Challenges

by NSC Blog | Mar 6, 2023 | Research Reports, Research Services

Getting Proactive Can Help Turn the Tide on Low Enrollment

The pandemic had a massive impact on a wide range of industries, including education which arguably may have been one of the hardest hit. With students at all levels being sent home to learn, some needing to put their education on hold, and many still struggling with finding a job, it likely comes as no surprise that many are questioning the traditional high school to higher ed pathway that has long been the default option for many.

Colleges are feeling the pinch as both enrollment and graduation numbers continue to decline. The impact was virtually immediate. In May 2022, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center revealed that 39 million students had completed only some of their college education — or left without receiving a degree.

Writing for University Business, Alcino Donadel points to some strategies that schools are using in an effort to stay ahead of their enrollment and retention challenges. Six strategies higher ed can implement to address post-pandemic challenges include:

1. Adjust curricula to be more labor market-focused.

One of the criticisms leveled against higher ed has been that schools are failing to keep up with labor market demands. New models are emerging to better align education with employer needs, including more use of professional certificates and stackable credentials.

2. “No-loan” policies to address burdensome debt concerns.

College debt is a major burden for many students and higher ed is paying attention. “Over 60% of students from the 2015-16 graduating class are still paying off debt,” Donadel writes. Schools are taking new approaches to ease the burden, including promising students that their entire obligation will be paid off through grants, scholarships, and other forms of assistance. 

3. Exploring new revenue streams.

In addition to tuition revenue, schools have long turned to fundraising as a source of additional revenue. As schools are finding themselves losing ground through enrollment revenue, some are turning to new revenue streams — like holding public workshops or offering training directly to businesses.

4. Creating community.

A big part of what makes college enjoyable for many students is the connections that they make. But making connections can be harder for some students than others. Recognizing this, and the value of those connections, some schools are taking more proactive steps to help cultivate community for students, especially those in marginalized groups.

5. Marketing in innovative ways.

If you want different results, you need to use different strategies and tactics. For colleges, this includes marketing and communications. Many are moving to more digitally-based approaches and also relying more heavily on data analytics to help determine which efforts achieve the best results.

Colleges are finding that they need to adopt new strategies to adjust to a rapidly shifting environment and new priorities for students, donors, and others. The need for flexibility and new innovative approaches will likely continue. As best practices are emerging, schools have an opportunity to learn from each other to adopt the strategies that are showing the most promise.

6. The Clearinghouse Difference: Data

You have enrollment needs and questions. The Clearinghouse holds informative data.

Through our Research Center and Custom Research, institutions can take advantage of the Clearinghouse’s decades of deep data resources and analytical capabilities to obtain reliable insights on learner outcomes.

Drawing on the unmatched national data resources managed by the Clearinghouse, our Custom Research team has successfully helped our clients answer their most pressing questions, like:

  • How do college attendance rates vary across my cohorts?
  • How has the pandemic affected the STEM enrollment of minority males?
  • How many of our 2-year students earned a bachelor’s degree?
  • Where should I look to diversify my recruitment of aerospace engineers?

Why do so many researchers turn to the Clearinghouse?

Because when you work with our Custom Research team, your project will benefit from the rich insights that are only available from Clearinghouse-managed data. No one can match the breadth and comprehensiveness of the educational data available through the Clearinghouse.

Researchers at educational institutions, leading foundations, state and federal agencies, and other organizations across the U.S. trust the Clearinghouse’s Custom Research team to deliver the data-backed insights they require.

Visit Custom Research for assistance!

“When you work with our Custom Research team, your project will benefit from the rich insights that are only available from Clearinghouse-managed data.”

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