Staggering student loan debt, tightening budgets, and concerns over global competitiveness have been in the national spotlight long enough to provoke serious changes in America’s higher education system. Colleges and universities are now dealing with a high level of scrutiny over student outcomes.
Parents and students are concerned that their investments in higher education may not be worth the price tag. College presidents are feeling pressure, and the accreditation process is under scrutiny. Even the White House is pushing for more transparency on completion and post-graduation outcomes to aid consumers in decision-making.
According to the Los Angeles Times, federal data shows that tuition at four-year colleges more than doubled in the past 30 years, and officials say completion and default rates are correlative. Students who don’t graduate after taking out loans face a default rate three times higher than that of their fellow borrowers who do graduate.
Although the nation’s focus on these issues has increased, they’re not new. In fact, Boston College Magazine ran an article in the 1970s titled To the Organized Go the Students, which noted, “enrollment management is a process that brings together often disparate functions having to do with recruiting, funding, tracking, retaining, and employing students as they move toward, within, and away from the institution.”
Shifting Focus from Access to Success
For decades, higher education was focused on increasing access. Today, getting more people into college isn’t sufficient. It’s now essential to get students through college and on to meaningful careers.
To that end, we’re seeing a shift in how states fund higher education. Thirty-two states have instituted outcomes-based funding for higher education, and that number is only growing. We’re also seeing institutions of higher learning make significant operational changes to better support student success.
The goal of improving student outcomes today requires greater teamwork and communication among disparate entities within the organization.
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