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These ideas began to revolutionize how higher education continuing education units think about who we’re serving and how we’re serving them. The result was advocacy for alternative credentials, like badges and bootcamps, that deliver fast learning in modular, stackable credentials.
My capstone project was focused on Goal 2: Graduate Education and Lifetime Learning, which includes a strategic imperative focused on providing robust educational offerings and delivery methods that includes baccalaureate and post-baccalaureate micro-credentials, short-term learning modules, professional licensure workshops, and enrichment opportunities to accelerate career fulfillment and enhance personal development and wellbeing.
A public university has two major operating revenues, if one of them doesn’t increase over time……well you get it. Budgets have been, and always will be in my experience, “tight.” It makes it difficult to gain approval of expenditures that are perceived to not be in the “here and now.” With this knowledge and having worked the duration of my career in my university’s finance division, naturally one of my first thoughts when evaluating a project of any kind is value proposition……does it work financially?
We know from extant research that students who fail or withdraw from a class are less likely to be retained, take longer to finish a degree, and have the potential loss of financial aid and scholarship. At our institution, courses with high DFW rates cause students to retake courses that are already in high demand, which poses challenges for meeting enrollment needs. Also, when students do not do well in STEM courses, in particular, they don't have the GPA to get into other majors, and they either leave and attend a community college or they do not return to higher education.
Many underrepresented minority students are inadequately prepared for higher education by high school graduation. This preparedness gap, which is greatly influenced by social inequities and other barriers, creates a pipeline problem for selective colleges and universities to increase underrepresented minority (URM) student enrollment. Due to this pipeline problem there is a shortage of qualified URM candidates for selective institutions.
The 18 fellows in the 2020 Rising Higher Education Leaders Fellowship cohort tackled a wide range of issues in their capstone projects, reflecting the diversity of institutions and professional experiences of the participants. Several fellows deeply examined student success at their institutions, specifically focusing on equity issues. Others made recommendations for improving campus sustainability, building stronger online programs, and adjusting graduate tuition rates.
These scorecards tend to provide to the public demographic data about the makeup of the student, faculty and staff populations as well as graduation and retention data that is disaggregated by demographic. These data provide a critical starting point for examining equity gaps at institutions of higher education. However, these data don’t measure the full experience of undergraduate students during their undergraduate careers.
Low-income and working students, who are more likely to be students of color and first-generation students, are less likely to have the ability to pay the tuition and fees required, decreasing their likelihood of persisting to graduation. By providing financial assistance to low-income students, Kansas State University can work to close the achievement gap, prevent low-income students from stopping out of college, and boost retention and graduation rates.
This toolkit helps institutions understand why they should lead a community needs assessment and what steps they should take to manage one.
The key takeaways below highlight the opportunities for higher education institutions, no matter their location or type, to begin tackling equitable economic development.