Top ten higher ed trends to watch for in 2019

No crystal ball? No problem.

InsideTrack is keeping close watch on the direction higher education is heading in 2019. Learn more about the students heading to campus, get the facts on what they’re looking for and pick up some tips on keeping your support strategies state-of-the art.

Take a look at the first five trends below, and stay tuned for the next five, coming soon.

1. Generation Z make a splash on campus

Millenials are old news, and Generation Z is taking over. That’s what we’re hearing from institutions serving traditional-aged students. How are Gen Z students different from their predecessors? According to a  Pew Research Center analysis, they’re more diverse — almost half are racial and ethnic minorities. And they’re laser-focused on their education, with 59 percent of 18-20 year old high school grads enrolled in college. If institutions can ensure they’re offering effective support tailored to each student’s needs, they’re looking at a rich pipeline of future graduates ready to shake things up.

2. Post-traditional students might one day crowd out the youngsters

Even while Generation Z causes a stir, adult learners may one day edge out the straight-out-of-high-school crowd. The Lumina Foundation reports that 38 percent of undergrads are older than 25. And according to projections from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the number of students older than 25 enrolled in postsecondary school is forecasted to keep increasing through 2025. By attuning themselves to adult student needs, institutions can make room on campus for the growing surge of post-traditional learners.

3. Online enrollment grows

It’s not a new development, but worth pointing out — enrollment in online courses continues to grow. In just one year — from 2016 to 2017 — a report from NCES shows, the number of students taking online courses increased by more than 5 percent. It’s important to note, however, that online students aren’t necessarily mapping a traditional degree onto a digital world. A report from Columbia University tells us that most students enrolled in MOOCs, for instance, already have a degree, suggesting many of these learners are looking for advancement or enrichment, not a diploma. No matter their educational goal, online students can benefit from engaging with the institution’s community and taking advantages of all the resources it has to offer.

4. The traditional degree pathway branches off

The college degree is no longer the only credential your students are seeking — think certifications, badges and other qualifications. In many cases, these alternative credentials supplement traditional degrees for students seeking to develop a particular skill. In 2015, the Lumina Foundation reported an 800 percent increase over the past 30 years in the number of certificates awarded by institutions and other learning providers. As supply and demand both continue to grow, institutions may find themselves exploring a new terrain of educational pathways.

5. Students are more focused on career than ever

No matter the degree, most students want the same thing out of education — career preparation that will equip them for employment’s unsteady future. 58 percent of respondents to the Strada-Gallup Alumni Survey said that work outcomes were their primary motivation for pursuing higher education. But even if they know what they want, students today aren’t sure they’re getting it. Another Strada-Gallup survey reported that only about a third of college students feel they’ll graduate prepared for career success. This disconnect spells a major opportunity for institutions to make the link between education and career more clear, and position themselves as prepared to offer that guidance.

Here at InsideTrack, we’ll continue to follow these trends throughout the year — and keep our ear to the ground for new insights that emerge as 2019 takes shape. Our student success solutions are designed to help institutions get ahead of the changes shaping higher education and keep student outcomes strong. From helping your staff better serve a new student population, to providing data-informed career support at all stages of the student journey, to ensuring your team is using the most up-to-date engagement strategies, we support you in becoming a trendsetter for higher ed success.


5 More Trends to Watch in 2019

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