My name is Brian Bailey, and I have the privilege of leading our team that works directly with community colleges.
And I’m a proud first-generation community college graduate, so today I’m rocking some swag from none other than Cerro Coso Community College.
So my go-to is actually a Bloody Mary from a can. Classy!
(can top popping)
Mm. Let’s see here.
This is coming from Cutwater out of San Diego, California.
I guess the only thing this really needs is some celery and maybe some bacon.
Oh, Ashley, thank you very much.
So we’ll go ahead and pour that.
So today what we’re gonna be doing is talking a little bit about something that’s on the mind of every community college leader and that is is enrollment.
It’s no secret that the past 12-plus months have been rough for community colleges’ enrollment.
It’s down over 11% since the last spring and the biggest drop across all sections of higher education.
And historically enrollments, they increase during times of economic uncertainty, but students are not flocking to enroll.
So why is that?
Well, there’s several factors that could be contributing to this phenomenon.
Some of it may be demographic.
Given the declining number of traditional-aged students in the U.S., as we’ve talked about, that’s not likely gonna be something that changes anytime soon.
(woman faintly speaks)
All right, I can’t get to the bacon.
So we’ll just get down to the bacon. Yum.
And then some would-be students had to make the tough call over the past year to stay home and work to get their family through this immediate financial crisis, or maybe even help out with childcare, putting their college plans on hold.
And finally, there’s the reality that many are questioning the value of a college degree and whether it’s still worth the cost.
Part of this could be a growing emphasis on skills-based hiring plus the explosion of education options like online bootcamps where people can pick up those in-demand skills
(person laughing faintly)
Gotta hold it back.
(sighs) So what can community college leaders do about all this?
Depending on your institution solutions may need to start with more flexible, hybrid course offerings or increased wraparound services.
But one core fundamental thing that all institutions will need to do going forward, now more than ever, is ensure that programs are aligned to employer needs at the skill level and makes this alignment transparent to prospective learners.
Why does this matter for enrollment?
Well, we’ve seen for years through surveys from Strada Education Network, Eduventures Research, and the Higher Education Research Institute, which all showed that employment outcomes are top of mind for students considering higher education.
Today, those prospective students are looking for the most efficient pathways possible and that means skill-based education that is closely aligned with the needs of employers in their region.
Fortunately, community colleges have a long tradition of being that on ramp to higher ed and into the workforce for learners of all backgrounds.
Now, as employers increasingly focus on skills in hiring decisions, community colleges must adopt this same language to stay aligned with employer needs and learners’ goals.
– [Man] Do you want me to hand that-
– (chuckling) That’s great!
If you’re not skills aligned, you’re looking like this.
And we’re here to help.
We have a library of over 30,000 skills we’ve identified based on actual employer needs in job postings.
You can explore the library and learn more about using it to improve and align curriculum by going to this URL.