2020 was certainly a year of unprecedented disruption – and not just in the world of higher education. The fact of the matter is, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted virtually every single aspect of our lives, from how we interact socially to how we pursue our careers. All the while, colleges and universities are struggling to remain viable options for people looking to acquire knowledge and pursue their studies. Colleges and universities worldwide are gearing up for what is indeed looking like another year of uncertainty.
Are Hybrid Models the New Reality?
Our research indicates that hybrid is the new reality across the massive world of higher education. For more detailed info, check out our e-book here.
For many students in the pre-Covid era, the hybrid model might have been perceived as a perk or feature of convenience. However, it has now become an essential component of education, and hybrid models are quite inclusive in terms of programs offered. Unlike private universities and public colleges, career universities appear to have been ahead of the game regarding hybrid. Over the past year, they proved to be uniquely positioned to offer a more mature hybrid experience compared to many state universities.
What Does Enrollment Look Like?
All across the board, there are some interesting statistics related to enrollment in the world of higher education. More specifically, the statistics related to enrollment at career colleges and universities are quite compelling. At the end of 2020, the average enrollment for career colleges is up by 3% compared to 2019. This statistic is significant compared to the drop in enrollment experienced by public and private nonprofit universities, which dipped by 1.4% and 2%, respectively. So, what exactly is causing this discrepancy? Many career colleges built their foundation around remote learning, which many students find quite attractive these days.
Career colleges learned early on that they needed to make learning accessible and valuable for their students to be successful. This means that they typically offer a range of programs that meet the needs of ordinary students who might not have the luxury of enrolling full-time in an in-person degree program – even for fields like nursing and HVAC.
Because career colleges and universities already have the infrastructure to support an effective distance learning program, enrollment has gone up quite considerably for the programs that they offer. Additionally, career colleges and universities tend to offer more online programs than public and private nonprofit universities.
As the world continues to weigh the risks and benefits of in-person learning, we’ll likely see career universities become more viable for students looking to pursue higher education. However, it’s important to note that even career colleges have faced enrollment challenges for various programs that train students for hands-on and manual trades. Education students can only absorb so much theory and abstract concepts before requiring a real-life application of that knowledge. Nurses-in-training can read and memorize the steps for drawing blood and inserting IVs, but they eventually need to practice on real equipment in various environments. The same can be said for HVAC, aircraft repair, and similar trades.
Students need to get their hands on the machinery and apply their online knowledge to gain valuable experience and take their education to the next level. These specialized disciplines require a honing of skills and applied knowledge to shape students into employable candidates.
What to Expect
We’re living in some of the most unpredictable times in recent memory. So we cannot say for sure just what to expect moving forward. However, if the trends hold, we forecast that career universities will gain clout in the higher education sphere due to their ability to offer seamless, intentional, and highly diverse online and distance learning programs that are becoming more and more popular in today’s world.
2020 presented increased demand for various jobs directly in the wheelhouse of many career colleges in the US. In mid-December, LinkedIn posted 2020’s trends related to the employment opportunities on the rise. Many of these jobs lend themselves comfortably to an online or hybrid educational experience, such as these five of their top 10 in-demand roles:
- software developer
- IT administrator
- data analyst
- IT support/helpdesk
- graphic designer
As mentioned above, in the summer of 2020, we released an e-book detailing our research results on hybrid education. We’re now completing our research from the subsequent months and will release the latest results in April.
If anything can adapt to adverse environments and exponentially increasing information, it’s our educational framework. 2020 delivered unforeseen challenges, but the EDU industry has answered with innovation and new lessons for the coming years. Stay tuned…