These Education Trends Suggest Big Changes. How Will You Respond?
The education business is booming, but there are some competing trends that could be cause for concern – or prove to be an opportunity – depending how education institutions respond. Understanding trends is key to marketing your business, so read carefully.
Trend 1: College Enrollment Is Down
As the effects of the COVID pandemic persist, despite an overall attitude both politically and socially that the pandemic is essentially over, education experts are beginning to worry there’s a deeper issue at play. A recent report that details college enrollment by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center indicated that 662,000 fewer students enrolled in undergraduate programs in spring 2022 than a year earlier, a decline of 4.7 percent, as reported by the New York Times.
Because the decline was so precipitous, experts believe that this is not only COVID-related. There appears to be a fundamental shift in how college-age students view the value of a college education. Is it worth taking on debt? Is the potential labor market return worth the risk? These questions are making students think twice about attending traditional four-year institutions. Other factors include demographic changes, as the population of college-aged students leveled off, and hawkish immigration policies that meant universities couldn’t attract enough international students to fill the gap. To address this, colleges will need to double down on innovation and differentiation to attract new students.
Trend 2: The Rise of the Professional Certification Programs
Undoubtedly, many high-level professions like law and medicine will continue requiring terminal degrees only available at universities, but educational opportunities that are more career-focused are on the rise. Just look at Google, which has used its ubiquitous name recognition in tech to launch Google Career Certificates, online courses in subjects like IT, data analytics, and project management taught by Google employees. These certificates, while unrecognized by the greater educational community, purport to provide the course graduate proof that they have the skills needed for an in-demand IT job.
The reviews so far are cautiously optimistic, but beware the for-profit sharks circling the Google chum. Furthermore, there is growing confusion among consumers and employers about the usefulness of these certificates, which exist in a totally unregulated space. Yet, skills are skills. As the move away from traditional four-year universities continues, this trend could prove to be a large driver of growth in the industry. How will universities respond?
Trend 3: Public School Enrollment Expected to Plunge
According to a recent article in the LA Times citing the Board of Education, LAUSD enrollment is expected to plunge by 30 percent in the next ten years. It’s an alarming prediction, but one that is mirrored across US public school districts. Yes, some of the drop is pandemic-related. But the fear amongst educators is that once these students are lost, they’re gone forever. Furthermore, as the birth rate continues to fall in the US and immigration policies keep many prospective students on the outside looking in, US public education could be facing a crisis.
But where one sector sees crisis, another sees opportunity. Falling enrollment in public schools means a loss of federal funds. The gutting of public education could be private education’s gain. Those in the private sector – plus charter schools – should plan for increased matriculation and market as such.
All these trends suggest the business of education is poised for big change. Where your business will land depends on how you respond to the changes. There is room for growth amid uncertain times but only by being bullish on opportunity where others may see crisis.