UPDATE: For your convenience, we have added a video of the February 10th webinar to this post. In this video, Rob Sentz, chief innovation officer at EMSI, walks through the report and reviews case studies that demonstrate how educators are using Career Coach to guide students through strategic decisions about what careers are right for them and how those opportunities relate to education. This is the second presentation in a series of Career Coach webinars; to watch the first webinar in the series, click here.
You’ve heard the question before: Will I have massive debt and no career if I enroll? Young people are struggling to connect their aspirations to the labor market and to the necessary education, and this information gap is causing students and their parents to question the value of education.
This week, EMSI released a report, Closing the Information Gap, that addresses how these concerns are creating enrollment and retention challenges for America’s colleges and universities, and how several higher ed institutions have successfully met those challenges through the use of technology and transparent data.
Here are some key takeaways from the report:
Enrollment has declined across all higher ed sectors since 2011, and it is often worse at the regional level (enrollment at Ohio’s community colleges has dropped 18.5% over the last five years). EMSI data, which has the ability to zero in on a particular metro or county, is well suited to help. By connecting educational program data at a college or university to local occupations, Career Coach helps individual institutions prove the value of their education and market their programs to prospective students.
We highlight the ways that Valencia College, St. Louis Community College, and Minnesota State Community and Technical College have strengthened their enrollment efforts considerably by incorporating Career Coach into their marketing campaigns. With the help of Career Coach, Minnesota State’s It’s Your Turn to Learn campaign led to the re-enrollment of about 60 former students—a major win. The University of Idaho also plans to use Career Coach to boost enrollment by educating prospective students about its majors and the in-demand careers that could be attained with those degrees.
First-Year Experience and Retention
Noel-Levitz reports that half of college freshmen want career services upon arriving, while two Community College Research Center studies (one in Washington, the other in Virginia) found that a quarter of community college students who enroll in the fall semester do not return in the spring. Helping students understand how education fits into their path to opportunity is critical to keeping them motivated, especially during their first year.
Fayetteville Technical Community College and Miami Dade College demonstrate how giving students access to labor market data immediately upon their arrival can inspire them throughout their course of study. “In my welcome letter, I encourage new students to take a look at Career Coach,” says Bill Griffin, FTCC associate vice president of curriculum programs. “Hopefully, they’ll have a better idea of where they want to go, how to get there, and the need to remain focused as they participate in their programs of study.” Additionally, in an effort to help students better understand how their coursework connects to the opportunities ahead of them, North Central State College in Ohio and Santa Monica College in California incorporate Career Coach into classroom assignments and lesson plans.
Enrollment and retention lead toward the ultimate goal: student success. When we speak of true student success, we must consider graduation rates, full-time employment rates in students’ chosen fields of study, and continuing education rates at more advanced levels. Success means guiding students along a path that fulfills their passions while also answering no to that question—Will I have massive debt and no career if I enroll?
At Central Piedmont Community College, Career Coach attracts about 5,500 visits per month. In 2014, about 600 users clicked through their site to contact a staff member for additional information.
Monroe Community College, Central Piedmont Community College, and Amarillo College have used a data-based approach to student success. And it’s working. Owen Sutkowski, CPCC director of transfer and career services, noted how Career Coach speaks to the entire student learning experience, to students in the middle of their education and to those approaching graduation that are poised to enter the workforce. The college’s Career Coach site attracts about 5,500 visits per month, and, in 2014, about 600 users clicked through the site to contact a staff member for additional information.
Data, Tools, and Training
EMSI’s report illustrates that when students are given access to transparent data, when they identify their goals, and when they are confident that there will be ample opportunity upon graduation, they do better in school—and enrollment, retention, and student success go up.
In addition to showing how Career Coach works with colleges and universities by offering them the tools and training they need to engage students, EMSI’s report also notes that Find Your Calling, our new initiative, is set to launch later this year. Find Your Calling is designed to help millions of high school students and their parents understand the labor market, line up their interests with real career opportunities, and, based on all of the colleges and universities in their area, determine which school and educational path is best suited to help them be successful.
To learn more about these services and to join the conversation about how you and EMSI can work together to close the information gap, please read the report. To watch the video of the first webinar in the Career Coach series, click here.