College Applications Up and Admissions Down in 2022

military students

The pandemic made the already declining college application numbers even lower. The pandemic continues to affect college applications in 2022, but there is some mixed hope. There is a general increase in college applicants, but a decrease in college acceptance rates. While applications are up, enrollment is down in many places. Undergraduate enrollment, for instance, dropped by 4.7% in spring 2022, or by more than 662,000 students, compared to spring 2021, according to recent data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. The increased number of test-optional schools, the elimination of SAT subject tests, and financial concerns are just some factors affecting the numbers.

Some higher education experts say that this year also resulted in a very high number of students on wait lists. Pandemic-era uncertainty is another holdover factor that has admissions officials trying to protect what's known as “yield”; that is, the number of students admitted who choose to attend.

I don't typically read articles on Military.com but it was referenced in another post I read about applications to the nation’s service academies dropping significantly last year. That is the same as what the overall declines in college enrollment have indicated the past 5 years, but the military's problem seems to be even greater.

For example, 8,393 people applied this past year to the Air Force Academy. That is a 28 percent drop from the year before. The U.S. Naval Academy saw a 20% application drop for the recently reported Class of 2026. The U.S. Military Academy at West Point saw about a 10% decrease from the prior year, but that actually better than the number of applications for the recent 2022 and 2023 classes.

Only 8 percent of young Americans have seriously considered joining the military, according to the Pentagon. And only 25 percent of that small pool of potential students are eligible for service. Potential recruits who are overweight or are screened out due to minor criminal infractions (including the use of recreational drugs such as marijuana) are stopped in the application process.

When I was working at a university, we had a good number of active military students. They were especially interested in online learning. I had a student one semester who was on an aircraft carrier during the Gulf War taking my course to prepare for his life after the military. I wonder how the numbers have changed the past few years about military students who are taking classes outside of the academies?

Tech-Enhanced Learning and Mobile Natives

I consult with Eastern International College on topics around online learning. They use the LMS Canvas from Instructure for online courses and only started using it more widely about 3 years ago. It's a for-profit college that offers degrees and certifications in health and medical fields. That is a population of faculty and students who have always been reluctant to go online. These are very hands-on, in-a-lab classes primarily. But the move proved to be somewhat lifesaving when the Covid pandemic hit schools in the 2020 semester.

Instructure sent me some resources to think about for the fall semester and one was strategies for "Tech-Enhanced Learning." I will date myself by saying I recall when we were attaching the term "web-enhanced" to courses and strategies. I also remember very clearly when the term "digital natives" was used to describe the students we were meeting in our classrooms.

Thomas Husson had blogged some time ago about mobile natives from a marketing perspective. He notes that the first iPhone was released in 2007 and, on average, a kid gets their first cell phone around 11 years old. That means the first entire generation that mobile has impacted will enter the workforce about 2025 - but they are already in schools grades kindergarten through higher education. 

kids on phones in class
     Photo: Rodnae Productions

Technology-enhanced (or sometimes "infused")  learning is essential to best learning practices and also to keeping learning relevant. It surely will play a role - as it has already and not always in a positive way - in the survival of higher education institutions. Instructional technology is important to student engagement. The correct approach is not to digitize what is already being used. That's closer to what we called "web-enhanced" when we were starting to put materials online. 

How do you use technology to transform pedagogy to be more engaging, innovative, and inclusive?  here are their suggested strategies.

Though the pandemic forced coursework online out of necessity, digital learning should now be the default. All courses should be designed so that they could be taught online, even if the intent is to teach them in a classroom. When course content is and communication is available online students can access it anywhere and at any time.

As noted above, courses should also be optimized courses for mobile access since mobile phones are the primary tool used by many students and student income levels are no longer the deciding factor for that use. How many of your students have a desktop computer or even a laptop?

Engagement includes interactive experiences between faculty and students, and also connecting students with one another. This is also something that goes across face-to-face, hybrid and fully remote courses.

It is important that this shift goes beyond your classes. A "digital campus" means things beyond coursework. Virtual tutoring, office hours, counseling, tech support, and library access is especially critical for off-campus students to have that on-campus connection. And even residential students will often prefer digital over face-to-face. Mental health resources for psychological well-being are a leading factor for student success and schools can leverage technology to expand access to mental health resources including virtual counseling, staff mental health training, and student mental health apps.

HyFlex learning environments got a lot more attention during the pandemic. This approach is student-centered and offers equitable access to content. Students should be able to move between modalities based on their learning needs and the location - pandemic or not.

For a long time, educators have been told what to expect from Millennials. We have moved on to Generation Z which is usually defined as those 4 to 24 years old - which covers pre-school to graduate school. They are a group that has always had access to the Internet - as did many Millennials - but Gen Z also has mobile devices as their primary way of communicating and getting information in and out of classes.

I added this post to my category "Education 2.0" which for me meant where education was moving. I have seen articles about "Education 3.0" but I stick with version 2 because I haven't seen the really big seismic shift in education yet.

Some futurists say that by the end of this decade workers who still go to a workplace outside their home will walk in, plug their device into the network ( Is say "plug" but it will probably be wireless), connect to a bigger screen(s) and start working. Shifting to mobile is not in its early stage. There are 7 billion mobile subscriptions now. That's not everyone and not every student, but a report from Forrester Research said that mobile phone penetration is at 91 percent of Generation Y homes. (80 percent for all households across North America.) 79 present 13-20-year-olds say in surveys that they can't live without their smartphones compared to 70 percent of 21-39-year-olds.

 

SOURCES
instructure.com/higher-education/back-to-school/faculty

blogs.forrester.com/thomas_husson/14-12-02-mobile_and_mobile_natives...

linkedin.com/pulse/mobile-natives-eric-isham/

ypulse.com/article/2022/03/29/3-stats-on-how-gen-z-is-being-raised-on-smartphones/

marketingdive.com/ex/mobilemarketer/cms/news/research/1576.html

 

Digital Wallets

skills

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

 

Digital wallets are tools to collect workers’ learner and employment records. They are not a new thing and have gone through different names and conceptualizations. In 2018, I was working with "badges" but it wasn't new then. I had worked with the Mozilla Foundation that was developing an Open Badges Infrastructure in 2012 (around the time that MOOCs exploded on the learning scene).

Open Badges is still around and on their site, they claim to be "the world's leading format for digital badges. Open Badges is not a specific product or platform, but a type of digital badge that is verifiable, portable, and packed with information about skills and achievements. Open Badges can be issued, earned, and managed by using a certified Open Badges platform. Want to build new technologies to issue, display, or host Open Badges? The Open Badges standard is a free and open specification available for adoption."

The idea of digital wallets has been talked about again now around the trend of skills-based hiring. If you have read that companies are more likely to hire based on skills rather than degrees, then some way - such as a wallet - that lets individuals collect and share verifiable records of their schooling, work, training programs, military service, and other experience is necessary. This is a work in progress, though you might expect that if this idea has been around for at least ten years that it might have gotten further.

There is a push for common technical standards among wallet developers to allow importing data from a variety of sources and sharing that via employers’ applicant-tracking systems.

When I was exploring badges a decade ago, I was also looking at Competency-Based Education (CBE) and mastery as related to higher education degrees. A simplified explanation of the difference from the view of an employer: MASTERY is measuring what they know. COMPETENCY is what they can do. Formal education has always been more focused on mastery rather than competency. Employers have those priorities reversed.

MORE
https://info.jff.org/digital-wallets

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