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Assessing the State of Higher Education in 2021

So far, we are seeing the impact of this pandemic translate into more robust graduate program enrollments and much weaker undergraduate enrollments, where a more diverse student population exists. The occupations most negatively impacted by the pandemic are highly concentrated in the service industries, where people may be less likely to hold undergraduate degrees. People who would typically be returning to school are no longer able to do so during the pandemic because they were suddenly out of work.

While there is substantial variation in the impact of the pandemic on enrollment and retention rates, that variation does not appear to be linked exclusively to COVID-19 case rates or local unemployment rates. But, something that is beginning to take shape is the impact of the growing costs of higher education. The ever-increasing belief that degrees may be moving more into the category of “luxury goods” is leaving more room in the future for alternatives such as online certificates, industry certifications, micro-credentials, and other flexible options.

Read the full report to understand the economic and social factors most impacting registration today.


Inside the Report:

  • The fundamental shifts in the longstanding correlation between economic downturns and increased college enrollment 
  • What matters most to college students as they look to continue their higher educational pursuits 
  • Ways in which schools can attract and retain future and existing students
  • The growing cost of higher education and its impact on students

About the Report

Today’s higher ed landscape is one of new challenges and also immense opportunities. Economic and environmental factors will continue to be a determining factor in student decisions for the foreseeable future. In an increasingly complex and competitive environment, the most successful schools will understand the landscape and external factors driving student behavior. To best serve today’s students, schools must deliver an experience and outcomes that match the needs of today’s students and delivers on the promise of higher education.