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Outcomes and enrollment: Answering Higher Ed's biggest questions

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We answer & discuss the biggest questions in Higher Ed...

The 'hot topics' in higher education are centered around enrollment numbers, student experience, and non-traditional students. As a result, we decided to take a deeper look into these topics and answer some of the questions that are often left unanswered or unexplained.

There’s no doubt that the world of higher education has changed drastically since March 2020. With that being said, how do universities and other higher ed institutions maintain enrollment, provide an awesome experience for their students, and cater to the ‘non-traditional’ student?

In fall 2020, Software2 conducted a research survey asking leaders in Higher Ed across North America what their main priorities were; 25.64% of respondents said that student enrollment and retention was their top priority.

Higher education survey
25.64% of Higher Education leaders said that student enrollment and retention was their top priority.

Those who reported prioritizing student retention and enrollment are looking forward to the future, hoping to counteract any potential detriments caused to current and future student numbers by COVID. They may be looking to achieve this by ensuring that their courses and resources continue to offer equal value and opportunity as they did prior to the pandemic.

At the end of the day, providing a positive student experience and maintaining enrollment go hand in hand...

 

Did your enrollment decrease by 16%?

Down pointed arrown

On average, we saw enrollment numbers decrease because of COVID-19. According to the Wall Street Journal, first-year student counts fell by 16.1% and the population of undergraduate students shrunk by 4%. Studies found that the would-be incoming freshman did not want to spend their first year in college taking classes online…can you blame them?

Forbes shared a research survey by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSCRC) which broke down different categories and demographics associated with enrollment decline. The NSCRC found that all higher education sectors experienced an enrollment decline, community colleges took the biggest hit, dropping 9.5% while public four-year universities were down 0.6%. Private, non-profit institutions saw a 0.8% drop while private, for-profit schools had a 1.5% enrollment decline.

Large universities throughout the country have experienced different impacts on enrollment, with some admissions offices reporting application declines of 20%. Other top-rated institutions have seen increases in applications. These varying application trends indicate that the impact of the pandemic will not be felt equally across all universities.

Tom Gaudrault, National Higher Education Chief of Staff

And why is that? Why are some universities suffering and others surviving? It all revolves around offering students an amazing experience and ensuring their success. College tuition is expensive, there’s no getting around that fact. COVID-19 caused the U.S. to take an economic hit; therefore, it only makes sense that incoming and returning students want to make sure they are getting their money’s worth. If students feel like their experience is subpar, they will not financially invest in their education. In order to turn around the ongoing decline in enrollment numbers, universities must find a solution to best support their students.


Happy students = Successful students

Here at Software2, we believe that happy students are successful students. Keeping that in mind, ensuring student success is rooted in proving them with a positive experience. The world of Higher Education is ever-changing; you can either adapt or fall behind. When COVID-19 came and campuses had to pivot to remote learning at the drop of a hat, many of their students suffered. However, there were many Higher Ed institutions that did not just survive the shift in learning environments but thrived.

Queen’s University in Kingston Ontario implemented a solution that enabled students and faculty to access their coursework any time, anywhere. In 2019, IT realized their delivery of software applications needed to evolve with the modern student and be improved to ensure the success of students across the school. Through their implementation of AppsAnywhere, Queen’s University has improved and modernized its most historical department while improving the experience of its students.

Access to Education

Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario implemented a solution that enabled students and faculty to access their coursework anytime, anywhere. In 2019, IT realized their delivery of software applications needed to evolve with the modern student and be improved to ensure the success of students across the school. Through their implementation of AppsAnywhere, Queen’s University has improved and modernized its most historical department while improving the experience of its students.

Stephen Hunt, Senior Director of IT and Facilities
Thank goodness we did this [implemented AppsAnywhere] a year ago. This would have been hard, not impossible, but very hard to suddenly do all of this last March.

Stephen Hunt, Senior Director of IT and Facilities, Queen's University

Based on the survey we conducted last fall, 28.72% of participants who are prioritizing student success and experience looked to maintain the value offered by courses and resources. When students are succeeding in their courses, despite ever-changing learning environments they recognize that value. The ideal outcome is that COVID has little to no effect on students' grades, their experience, or the university's budget...

Budgetary savings

The College of Charleston was interested in the potential budgetary savings afforded by the reduction of institutionally owned computers in computing labs long before COVID-19 made its impact. However, they implemented AppsAnywhere right before the fall semester in 2020 to provide their students with a consistent, seamless experience whether they were on-campus or learning in a virtual environment. The College of Charleston initially looked into a new solution to save money; what they didn't expect was their students' experiences and GPA to improve in just 12 months. Kris Lindal, Operating Systems Manager of Information Technology, discussed student outcomes one year after implementing AppsAnywhere…

Kris Lindal, Operating Systems Manager of Information Technology
Overall, the GPA of the student body went up from the previous year.

Kris Lindal, Operating Systems Manager of Information Technology, College of Charleston

Student feedback

The modern student is constantly evolving. In order to provide them with the keys to success, you have to understand who your student is today and who they are going to be tomorrow. Elon University in North Carolina knows exactly who their students are. Over the past 2 years, their strategic approach shifted to focus solely on their students’ experience, success, and innovation. One of Elon University's students discussed with us her thoughts on access to tech on campus. Hayley Clos, Elon University Class of 2022, walked us through her thoughts on AppsAnywhere.

Hayley Clos, Elon University Class of 2022
It's a really cool and easy way to access class work. I am taking classes in various departments so having everything I need all in one place has made it convenient for me. I don’t have to go to different computer labs anymore which has made my life a lot easier.

Hayley Clos, Elon University Class of 2022

Institutional improvements

It's because of thoughtful, innovative, and holistic leaders in Higher Ed that despite the challenging hand they have been dealt, they continue to see success in their students. For the past 12 years, Software2 evolved and grew alongside higher ed. We built a solution that enables students, all types of students in all types of environments, to achieve their goals and be triumphant in their academic studies.   

Bhavani Koneru, Chief Technology Officer, Ferris State University
It [AppsAnywhere] provides continuity of education for students; provides innovative teaching tools and helps the university stay safe through remote delivery. Ferris has to keep moving forward, and we keep going because of these technologies we’ve been able to put in place.

Bhavani Koneru, Chief Technology Officer, Ferris State University


Traditional v. Non-traditional Students: are they one in the same?

Before we start, it's important that we clarify who traditional students are in comparison to non-traditional students. Traditional students are those who attend higher education right after high school. These students, usually ages 18-22, attend a four-year college or university and graduate with a bachelor’s degree. Sometimes, their secondary education consists of attending a two-year community college, earning their associate's degree, then transferring to a four-year school.

College students

Non-traditional students do not fit the aforementioned criteria. According to the American Association of State Colleges and University, "nontraditional students meet one of these seven characteristics: delayed enrollment into postsecondary education; attends college part-time; works full time; is financially independent for financial aid purposes; has dependents other than a spouse; is a single parent; or does not have a high school diploma. Those criteria fit a wide swath of today’s college students”. Prior to 2020, non-traditional students enrolled in trade schools for a specific career path, took night classes to fit their busy schedules, or only took online classes. For many years, these were the 'normal' means of education; however, we are now seeing more and more non-traditional students enroll at a four-year higher ed institution.

What are universities doing to bridge the gap between traditional and nontraditional students? Well, if you’re the University of Arkansas, you’re likely purchasing a for-profit school, such as Grantham University.

By acquiring the assets of Grantham University, we will be able to scale up this effort to reach beyond the borders of Arkansas and diversify the educational offerings and revenue profile of our system.

Dr. Donald R. Bobbitt, President of the UA System.

 In the spring of 2018, Purdue University acquired Kaplan University to better serve nontraditional students. Kaplan University was a for-profit university with 14 locations across the U.S. Today, it is now Purdue University Global, Inc. (Purdue University Global is a public, nonprofit institution that describes itself as an innovated education for working adults).

Throughout the past 18 months, we are finding that traditional and nontraditional students are receiving an education in many different learning environments. Currently, one in 10 college students in the U.S. are 40 years old or older, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. By 2027, it is estimated that 3.3 million students will fall within this age group. With the increase of generational diversity in Higher Ed, it is vitally important that schools are proving a consistent way for their students to access their course work.


AppsAnywhere gives students a better IT service by delivering all their software to any device on-demand. Virtualized, remote, local or web; we can improve the student experience by bringing all of their apps together, on and off campus, into one place.

Providing equitable access to academic software for all students on any device is no longer a luxury but a standard. Today's forward-thinking CIOs see IT as a way to deliver a better service to students. Improve student outcomes by giving them academic applications as a service, on any device, on-demand, anywhere and anytime, through a university app store.

Book a demo to see how AppsAnywhere can increase your enrollment and outcomes. 


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