Higher education is constantly evolving.

Some changes take place at high levels or behind the scenes and don’t appear to affect students. But there are several trends occurring now that do have a direct impact on the college student experience. Here are some of them:

1. Being a student isn’t a full-time gig for most.

A report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) shows that in 2017 81% of undergraduate students were employed while in school. In addition, many students are likely juggling family commitments, leading to competing demands on their time and attention. So, students are increasingly choosing part-time school schedules or alternative methods of education.

2. Online enrollment is on the rise.

The demand for online coursework is increasing. According to a 2017 report from the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of students taking online courses increased by more than 5% from 2016 to 2017. Meeting students where they are in the work-life continuum is an important focus of higher education organizations. (Capella University was a pioneer in this area, providing online education for 26 years!).

3. College is no longer just for the post-high school demographic.

More and more students are pursuing college degrees well after they receive a high school diploma or GED. The Lumina Foundation reports that 37% of undergrads are 25 and older. Projections from the NCES are that, while enrollment of students in all age groups is expected to increase between 2016 and 2025, the highest increase will be among students 30 and over. These are likely people who are juggling work and family and seeking alternative educational options, especially online.

4. Competency-based education (CBE) is becoming increasingly important.
CBE is a type of education in which students must demonstrate competencies—a set of knowledge, skills, and abilities that are aligned to programmatic outcomes —as they move along the road to their degree.  Some CBE programs, such as Capella University’s, are aligned to specific industries or industry standards and the outcomes reflect the needs of employers in those industries. Learning can occur in a wide variety of forms and settings.  

Learn more about Capella University and its online higher education programs.