- Citing data from a handful of recent surveys from Knewton, the Miller Heiman Group and Exult, eSchool News highlights how dramatically the typical college student has changed in just the past 10 years.
- According to the data from Knewton, 20% of the 20 million students attending colleges and universities in the U.S. are over the age of 30, 40% are attending community colleges (and 36% of them are first-generation college students), 37% are attending part-time, and only 60% graduate within six years, with those needing remediation in four-year degree programs 74% more likely to drop out than those not needing remediation.
- Furthermore, the Miller-Heiman Group's data points to a surplus of stimuli from digital environments and lack of time due to outside obligations, along with a lack of interaction and collaboration, as a source of common challenges in higher ed — while Exult's data shows online learning is being dominated by app-based learning, microlearning, video, mobile, gamification, and VR and AR.
If the National Center for Education Statistics data released last year didn't already convince you, the Knewton data especially should hammer home that the term "nontraditional student" is extinct. If you need a refresher, that previous round of data from NCES highlighted the fact that 74% of all undergraduates enrolled in 2011-2012 matched at least one "nontraditional" characteristic.
In many ways, higher ed has worked to adapt to the needs of these changing demographics in recent years, whether it be offering shorter programming via competency-based education and skills-mastery-based "bootcamp" programs or making sure services like the bursar's and financial aid offices offer extended hours to accommodate working students' schedules. In some cases, automation has been used to meet needs in the case of the latter.
And that's not even taking into account the differences in student experiences between a decade ago and today thanks to growing reliance on digital tools in the classroom. If the Miller Heiman data is any indication, it would do institutions well to ensure that students are still gaining experience with face-to-face collaboration or hands-on experiences that benefit them in the real-world, further cementing the importance of the career center and internship opportunities.
With institutions struggling to boost access and affordability in an era of budget austerity on top of these demographic and experiential shifts, another decade will likely see an even bigger difference in the higher ed landscape when compared against today.