Trends in Higher Education – Part 3: The Changing Dynamic

By: Ideas in Motion Media Last Updated: March 16, 2018

Higher education is changing. Fast. From the increasing competition in the work force, to changes in enrollment types and levels, American colleges and universities are having to adapt to an increasingly diverse and rapidly evolving society. In that vein, we asked four of the prominent universities in the Region how they plan on meeting these challenges in 2018.

What is your campus doing about the changing dynamic (baby boomers and those later in life going back to school vs millennials declining numbers that are enrolling) for enrollment?

Calumet College of St. Joseph – Linda Gajewski
Twenty years ago, Calumet College had the highest average student age in the state, and many if not most of our classes were at night. Our students remained in Northwest Indiana, where they became leaders in business, industry, education, and ministry. Today we serve more traditional-age students than we did in the past, and we have changed scheduling and support services to accommodate them. CCSJ remains a welcoming place for adult students, however. On the one hand, we find that the mix of students just out of high school with working adults can provide a variety of perspectives in the classroom that enlivens discussion and prompts thoughtful consideration of issues. On the other hand, we retain accelerated programs specifically designed for adults returning to school that run in the evenings and on Saturdays. Those programs include Organization Management, Public Safety, Psychology and Education. Like everyone else, we offer some online courses as well to help accommodate students. We highlight the many ways that students belong at the College, and we continue to develop our academic programs so adults, as well as traditional students, belong at CCSJ.

Indiana University Northwest - Vicki Roman-Lagunas
In some parts of the United States, like the Midwest, the demographic trend data indicates that currently, and over the next several years, there will be a decrease in the numbers of traditional-aged students. At the same time, we recognize that there are thousands of adult learners who have never gone to college, or who have attended some college and not completed for a myriad of reasons.

That said, IU Northwest has always served a large number of adult learners, who have an immense amount of obligations, like families and jobs, in addition to their studies. While this is a strong suit of ours already, there is always a need to constantly adapt to our students’ needs. One way that we are doing this now is by bringing on more online instruction as a way of accommodating our students’ need for flexible scheduling.

Purdue University Northwest - Katie Stompor
In response to the growing and diverse career opportunities in the business of professional and intercollegiate sports and athletics, PNW introduced the Sports Management major.

In January 2018, Taltree Arboretum & Gardens and PNW began a unique partnership. The foundation and the family that founded Taltree are donating the property to PNW. The property, to be renamed Gabis Arboretum at Purdue Northwest, will be operated by PNW as an arboretum for public, educational, conservation and recreational use. PNW plans to offer new and expanded academic courses, enhance recruitment efforts, support community educational and outreach programs, conduct new research projects, and engage further with area K-12 teachers and students.

Valparaiso University - Kristen Knoerzer
Enrollment at Valparaiso University is strong. This year we welcomed more than 800 freshmen for the third time in the past five years, as well as a record number of transfer students.