2. Debt Threat Limits Options

Students value college as a life milestone and as a path to a fulfilling career; however, the cost of college is increasingly perceived as a major challenge: 44 percent of college students between the ages of 18-23 do not expect to pay off their student loans before they are 50.

Due to concerns over the cost of tuition and student loan debt, budget has increasingly become a deciding factor in students’ choice of which school to attend. A majority of students (58 percent) decided not to attend at least one college because the cost was too high; this is up significantly from 49 percent of student respondents who were asked the same question in 2013. The threat of debt often trumped all other considerations among survey respondents and even motivated students to limit discretional spending on entertainment and off-campus meals.

As important as affordability is to students, securing a full-time job is even more critical.  When asked to prioritize, 73 percent of students said a guaranteed full-time job is more important than zero student loan debt (28 percent) after graduation.

3. Increased Interest in Online Classrooms

As growth in online is driven by both students and faculty, students are pushing professors to offer more digital learning, and professors increasingly urge students to get more involved with the digital components of their assignments. Further findings reveal the mutual push for greater online learning experiences:

  • 68 percent of students said the availability of online classes would be important to their educational experience, compared to 59% in 2013
  • 77 percent of students have taken at least one online course
  • 42 percent of students said they get better grades in online courses vs. in-person courses

When asked which courses would be better taught online, half (50 percent) say history, followed by a significant percentage saying English (42 percent), foreign languages (29 percent) and math (28 percent).

4. Rise of the “Social” Classroom

In addition to online courses, students are experiencing greater use of social media in the classroom, a trend that raises new considerations:

  • 65 percent of college students ages 18-23 believe social media will eventually be required in all classes
  • 65 percent of survey participants said their Facebook accounts are not currently “class ready” due to questionable content
  • 77 percent of students said a professor has used, or asked them to use, at least one social media site for a class. The most popular accounts are YouTube (57 percent) Facebook (42 percent) and Twitter (25 percent).

5. Institutions Recognizing Team Work for Digital Transition

College administrators are realizing a supportive change management team can help ensure a successful transition to a digital campus: To gain buy-in from all stakeholders, project sponsors are being utilized to strategically integrate digital content delivery to students and faculty without disrupting the campus infrastructure.

6. Accessibility is Top of Mind

Even though students are comfortable using mobile devices to read recreationally, they may need assistance in using the devices in an academic setting. Campuses are now planning additional student and faculty training on how to effectively use devices during class time.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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