The Changing Face of College

Now that kids of all ages are back to school, it’s worth acknowledging how college is changing for many young people.  The last few years, of course, distance learning became the de-facto system, but many colleges and universities have been using that concept for years.    

One of the most interesting things about post-pandemic higher education it is impacting  the long-debated economics of tuition costs.  Parents and students are asking hard questions about costs when much of the learning is remote and an even broader conversation is beginning as it relates to what “value” a particular institution brings to any degree versus a local or regional school – or even traditional “trade” schools.

One thing’s is for sure, we’re seeing changes never before anticipated!

Here’s a few things to watch, especially if your student is just starting to think about enrolling in the coming years…

  • Right now, enrollment is down nearly 10%.  More and more, prospective students and their families are asking harder questions about their return on investment for an education, especially for schools with high tuitions and less-than-stellar results in terms of the education they offer. 
  • Smart students are starting at the community level.  There’s been a national rise in the number of students enrolling at local schools, perhaps realizing they can get a lot of general studies courses out of the way at a fraction of the price they’d pay for out-of-state tuition.  In the end, this offers the student the chance to lower their overall tuition, but still receive a degree from a more prestigious institution. 
  • Expect to see fewer faculty, staff, and even majors.  This is in direct relation to the seemingly endless variety of specialized majors in the last two decades, and now, students are recognizing (too late, in some cases) that highly specialized degrees can limit their options further along in their careers.  With enrollments down, the sheer volume of interested students in certain specialized areas will not support those offerings.  Students can expect to see many of those programs cut as well as sports, activities, and even support staff. 
  • The on-campus experience is changing, and students today are less likely to socialize the way previous generations have.  With so many schools at every level built for classrooms of thirty, class sizes will be cut, virtual learning will be the norm, and again, smart students and their parents will realize there is little benefit to paying a premium for an education that is only a shade of the so-called “college experience.”

All these and many more will impact – and likely change (for the better?) – the current climate where many colleges seemingly exist to merely saddle students with debt before they enter the workforce. 

Another trend we are likely to see is more students entering tech schools or learning trades, as many of those have proven to be pandemic-proof.  Even more likely?  Students who learn a trade, then continue their education online while they work, allowing them to move from a skilled trade into white-collar jobs quickly. 

No matter what, it’s going to be a very different environment for a lot of people. 

If you’ve got a student getting close to college, now is a great time to sit down with me and the team to discuss how financial aid, taxes, and even college funding can be set up and paid for – in some cases, tax free. 

We’re here for you to help sort this out! 

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