The long, established history of higher education brings with it certain strengths. The stability, wisdom, and deep relationships that typify higher education are assets to our students and to our culture. It is important, however, that an established history does not become an entrenched approach. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased pressures and accelerated changes already at work in higher education.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, college enrollment is down one million students. The complexity of attending school during a public health crisis has caused many to sit out college for now—or for good. The pandemic has prompted people to evaluate their life choices and ask what they really want from their lifestyle. People have moved from cramped city apartments to more spacious, affordable homes. Entire industries have seen a mass exodus of employees as individuals change career paths. Higher education is not immune to this appraisal. Prospective students are asking themselves if now is the right time to go to college, and what college should look like for them.
Students have changed the way they approach college and higher education must do so as well if it hopes to remain relevant for the needs of today and the opportunities of tomorrow. Long before the pandemic, there was already a growing awareness that a one-size-fits-all approach to college was insufficient. Accelerated and hybrid programs have grown in popularity as colleges seek to respond to the needs of students.
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