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«June 2009 By Martin Van Der Werf and Grant Sabatier THE COLLEGE OF 2020: STUDENTS TABLE OF CONTENTS Executive Summary 3 21st-Century Learners 7 The ...»

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June 2009

By Martin Van Der Werf

and Grant Sabatier



Executive Summary 3

21st-Century Learners 7

The Pipeline 12

College Population 19

Tuition Trends 23 For-Profit Colleges 28 A Survey of Admissions Officers 32 Online Learning 37 International Enrollment 44 Adult Learners 48 Conclusion 51 Bibliography 54 The entire content in this report, including but not limited to text, design, graphics, and the selection and arrangements thereof, is copyrighted as a collective work under the United States and other copyright laws, and is the property of Chronicle Research Services. Chronicle Research Services is a division of The Chronicle of higher education inc. Copyright © 2009. all RiGhTS ReSeRveD. 1255 23rd Street NW, Washington DC

20037. Telephone: (202) 466-1000.

You may electronically copy, download, and print hard copy portions of the report solely for your own, noncommercial use. You may not modify, copy, distribute, transmit, display, reproduce, publish, license, create derivative works from, transfer, or sell any information obtained from this report without the express, written authorization of Chronicle Research Services.

C h Ro n i C l e R e S e a RC h S e Rv i C e S THE COLLEGE OF 2020: STUDENTS


What is college? And why should I go? Those may be the This report from defining questions for colleges over the next decade. More Chronicle Research than an expression of teenage angst, they reflect a fundamental Services is based on transformation in the way students see higher education, and reviews of research how they want to go about getting it.

and data on trends in higher education, The traditional model of college is changing, as interviews with demonstrated by the proliferation of colleges (particularly experts who are for-profit institutions), hybrid class schedules with night shaping the future and weekend meetings, and, most significantly, online of colleges, and learning. The idyll of four years away from home—spent the results of a poll living and learning and growing into adulthood—will continue of members of a to wane. It will still have a place in higher education, but it will Chronicle Research be a smaller piece of the overall picture. Services panel of admissions officials.

Students’ convenience is the future. More students will attend classes online, study part time, take courses from multiple universities, and jump in and out of colleges. Students will demand more options for taking courses to make it easier for them to do what they want when they want to do it. And they will make those demands for economic reasons, too. The full-time residential model of higher education is getting too expensive for a larger share of the American population. More and more students are looking for lower-cost alternatives to attending college. Three-year degree programs, which some colleges are now launching, will almost assuredly proliferate.

The trend toward low-cost options also will assuredly open doors for more inexpensive online options.

–  –  –

Classroom discussions, office hours with a professor, • lectures, study groups, and papers will all be online.

Colleges will need to offer those options in addition to the face-to-face instruction. At the same time that many students are demanding more online options, some also want to learn the old-fashioned way—in classrooms. Some students recognize that they need the discipline of going to classes at set places and times, or they will never get around to studying.

Some students may need more time to finish their degrees.

Some colleges might accept that many high-school graduates are simply not ready for college and add a “new” first year to college educations that would be entirely remedial. Then students would be ready to start work toward a bachelor’s degree.

Colleges must be ready to offer all of these options. The challenge will be to provide them simultaneously and be flexible enough to change the methods as the market changes. Faculty members must be flexible, too. The Internet has made most information available to everyone, and faculty members must take that into consideration when teaching.

C h Ro n i C l e R e S e a RC h S e Rv i C e S There is very little that students cannot find on their own if they are inspired to do so. And many of them will be surfing the Net in class. The faculty member, therefore, may become less an oracle and more an organizer and guide, someone who adds perspective and context, finds the best articles and research, and sweeps away misconceptions and bad information.

Colleges are under immense pressure to change quickly because of intensified scrutiny of the cost of college. In addition, the pressure to adapt to instant access to information, and to ways to provide it, is being built right now by tomorrow’s college students. More than two-thirds of school districts in 2007-8 had at least one student who was taking an online course, according to a recent report by the Sloan Consortium, a nonprofit organization that promotes online learning. What will those students expect from colleges when they get there? Certainly they will want something innovative—more innovative than what colleges are offering now.

Colleges are only slowly waking up to the need for substantial change. Admissions officers who are members of a Chronicle panel expect significant changes over the next decade in the makeup of their student bodies. Of the 121 institutions that responded to a survey, two-thirds said that almost all of their students were full time and ages 18 to 25. Those characteristics will change. Only about half the institutions believe that in 2020 their enrollments will be primarily made up of traditional-age, full-time students.

By 2020, almost a third of respondents said, students will be taking up to 60 percent of their courses entirely online. Now almost no students at those colleges take courses only online.

Who Will the Students Be?

It should come as no surprise that student bodies will increasingly be made up of members of minority groups. At some point, probably just after 2020, minority students will outnumber whites on college campuses for the first time. The average age of students will keep trending higher as expectations shift in favor of people going back to college again and again to get additional credentials to advance their careers or change to new ones.

C h Ro n i C l e R e S e a RC h S e Rv i C e S The colleges that are doing the best right now at capturing that demographic are community colleges and for-profit institutions. Both sectors will continue to grow at a fast pace.

The executive director of the Career College Association, The average age of Harris N. Miller, believes for-profit colleges will be educating 15 percent of all college students by 2020, compared with the students will keep 7 percent that they educate now.

trending higher.

The most elite colleges will always have their constituencies and a ready supply of students looking for a traditional college education. Many flagship state institutions also have a similar built-in advantage: For students who cannot get into elite institutions or cannot afford them, the large, nearby public university will be their ideal. But the total group that attends those types of institutions makes up far less than half of collegegoers, and it is shrinking.

Community colleges and for-profit institutions should continue to thrive because of their reputations for convenience. The rest of colleges—regional public universities, small liberalarts colleges, and private universities without national followings—can expect to compete for students based on price, convenience, and the perceived strengths of the institutions. They will need to constantly ask themselves “What is college?” and be constantly rethinking the answer if they want students to attend.

 C h Ro n i C l e R e S e a RC h S e Rv i C e S THE COLLEGE OF 2020: STUDENTS 21st-CENTURY LEARNERS Today’s high-school students, the so-called New Millennials, see their educational futures built almost entirely around technology. And certainly computers will be even more central to the educations of younger students now rising through elementary and high schools.

–  –  –

The report—published by Project Tomorrow, a Californiabased education nonprofit group—is based on a survey of 281,000 students in all 50 states. The report says that elementary- and secondary-school students are frustrated by rules that inhibit their use of technology. And the students propose that schools stop trying to block the technology and instead embrace it.

C h Ro n i C l e R e S e a RC h S e Rv i C e S

Among the recommendations in “Speak Up 2008”:

1. Use mobile computing devices “to extend learning beyond the school day.” If free to do so, about one-half of middle- and high-school students would use mobile devices to communicate with classmates, work with classmates on projects, conduct Internet research, and receive alerts about upcoming homework and tests. Approximately one-third would communicate with teachers, play educational games, or record lectures.

2. “Incorporate Web 2.0 computing tools into daily instruction, especially those that develop collaborative or social-based learning, and provide unique opportunities for students to be content developers.” Twenty percent of sixth- through 12th-graders use the Web to write collaboratively with others. One-third or more of middle-school and high-school students play online games; share photos, videos, or music; and create new videos, music, or animation. Just under one-fifth of those students contribute to blogs.

3. Create a new “digital textbook” that would allow

students to do the following:

–  –  –

Designing the Perfect Learning Tool A similar report, “Visions 2020.2,” based on a survey sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Department of Education, and a nonprofit organization in California, NetDay, asked 160,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade in 2004 how they use digital technologies.

By combining the most popular elements of the survey answers, NetDay created a futurist vision of what the learning tools of the elementary- or secondary-school

student of 2020 will look like:

–  –  –

The college student of 2020 will be the grown-up version of this characterization. She will crave personalization and convenience. Many of the students who completed the survey suggested that learning should be personalized based on the students’ desires and how they learn best.

Some students are visual learners, some are auditory, others are experiential, and many are a combination of all three. In the future, those learning styles will become more important, and students will have the option to choose the way in which they C h Ro n i C l e R e S e a RC h S e Rv i C e S want to learn or take a course.

How Secondary Schools Can Better Prepare Students Students and their parents expressed dissatisfaction with the way they were being prepared in high school for higher

education. According to the “Speak Up 2008” survey:

While 56 percent of school principals say their schools are doing a good job of preparing students for the jobs of the future, only one-third of students, and an even lower percentage of parents, agree.

More than half of parents said they are likely or very likely to encourage their child to pursue a job in a science, math, or technology field. More than 40 percent of students in grades three to 12 agree that science is important to them. However, only 21 percent of high-school students and 17 percent of middle-school students say they are “very interested” in pursuing a career in those fields. An additional one-third say they might be interested if they knew more about such jobs and careers.

Remember, the freshman of 2020 is a first grader today.

Market research from commercial producers describes an even more technology-savvy group coming up behind the students now in middle school and high school.

Research by the NPD Group shows that 82 percent of children ages 2 to 5 play games on video-game consoles.

Kids have shown increased use of portable digital music or video players in the last year, but, surprisingly, use of cellular phones by kids has been stagnant for the last two years, according to the market-research company, based in Port Washington, N.Y. Twenty-six percent of sixth and seventh graders go online after seeing an advertisement. Increasingly, children are using their gaming consoles to watch movies.

“From the perspective of anyone over the age of 30, I think the sheer prevalence of digital devices in kids’ lives is at the same time eye-opening and something that was expected and confirmed,” said Anita Frazier, an analyst at NPD (quoted in Advertising Age, January 19, 2009).

Other reports show that primary and secondary schools are C h Ro n i C l e R e S e a RC h S e Rv i C e S rapidly incorporating online courses into their mainstream curriculums.

The Sloan Consortium, in a January 2009 report on online education, found that 69.8 percent of the school districts responding to its survey had at least one student who had taken an online course in 2007-8. An additional 12.3 percent of those districts that did not have any students enrolled in an online course planned to have at least one student taking one within the next three years.

–  –  –

Students’ prevalent use of online research suggests that colleges will have an increasing need to break students of bad habits and help them assess the veracity of information on the Web. That practice also suggests that plagiarism will be a continuing and growing problem.

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