To say things are hard right now is an understatement. Amidst a global pandemic, we’re all struggling to adjust. To protect our health. To working offsite. To teaching online. To parenting while working at home. To schooling children and caregiving for others amidst all of that, too. But higher ed, too, is uncertain. Things are about to get bad. Very, very bad, I think. Worse than the great recession. Moody’s has downgraded the higher ed sector to a “negative” outlook for 2020. At the most severe end of the spectrum, analysts are predicting a 30% drop in enrollment. International students will fall off in droves as this goes on, and uncertainty over travel bans continue. Out of state students may well opt to stay put closer to home after being sent off campus for the duration of this semester. And, of course, even in-state students whose families have become unemployed will no longer be able to afford school. In many recessions, higher ed enrollment goes up, as people scrape together ideas on re-skilling and re-credentialing for new opportunities. And there’s need based aid. Both true. But this time, it’s different. Admissions officers are warning of a huge drop in enrollment. This is a new and never-before-seen level of volatility. Colleges have had to scrape together emergency funds for N-95 masks, tons more cleaning and sanitization, buy thousands more licenses to eLearning software, and hire additional medical personnel. None of which was budgeted for. So they have to dip into reserves to provide laptops and Wi-Fi hotspots to students in need, HIPAA-compliant Zoom channels for counseling, additional security expenses to release otherwise-locked down external network access to data so that offsite researchers and employees can access it…higher ed is hemorrhaging money. And that hemorrhaging of money is already hurting higher ed. Now. This year. Right this second. What it will do in the near future has yet to be seen, as higher ed tries to overcome the crisis we’re faced with today. Public higher ed has been funding-starved for years, thanks to austerity measures, so it will face greater challenges in
I stumbled on an article about online learning that included an unexpected – but thought-provoking- point about career support. It served as a good reminder that mentors need to be mindful to offer their help to those who are online only (and not just exclusively to those who are physically present) and that all workers, women in particular, need more than one mentor at all times.
Flipping the school day – having grad students report to work for part of the day – is a win-win for students, grad schools AND employers.
One of the prevailing paradigms in higher ed these days is student success. Cynics decry it as a framework devoid of meaning. After all, haven’t all of us in higher ed existed to ensure student success at all times? As in: how is this “new” or advancing the field? But more narrowly constructed, many universities, colleges, and community colleges frame their missions and strategic plans around it. Student success can mean many things. It can entail access – ensuring that education remains available to all to the degree possible. It can include breaking down scheduling and financial barriers so students are able to complete their programs and graduate to a rewarding career. And it can mean that institutions provide services for its increasingly diverse students, such as food insecure students, first generation students, etc. But what does your higher ed institution do for career success for its staff? Anything?