How the College Experience Changed in 10 Years

Posted By Marisa Sanfilippo on July 5, 2017 at 4:19 pm
How the College Experience Changed in 10 Years

Forget yearning for the “good old days.” The college experience has changed a lot during the past decade. First and foremost, maybe, the cost of education has been at the center of the conversation, but many other aspects have also changed.

GoodCall® recently examined how students today have it differently – no judgments here on whether it’s better or worse – than their counterparts 10 years ago.

Here are some of the ways the college experience is different:

Use of high school credits

Alissa Carpenter worked for more than a decade as a higher education administrator and is now a leadership development speaker and professional trainer. She mentioned a major shift she’s noticed in the way colleges are handle high school credits.

For many years, it was possible for students to take AP and IB classes in high school and receive college credits for their work. These classes could also help position a student for priority enrollment for college courses.

But that trend is beginning to change. Many colleges are now pushing back the amount of credits they will give incoming students from their advanced high school classes and decreasing the amount of preferential treatment for taking those classes.

Technology and the college experience

Technological advancements have resulted in some of the most dramatic changes in the way colleges handle enrollments, teach courses, and manage student experiences.

New products are being introduced rapidly into the field of college advising related to counseling, coaching, education planning, risk analysis, and intervention. These products allow colleges to streamline the process and help reduce employee redundancy and save on administrative costs while at the same time helping to ensure students do not waste time and money on courses that will not move them closer to completing their degree. These types of technological advances create a safety network for students by ensuring all stakeholders are on the same page and notifying counselors if students begin to struggle.

Some of the most exciting educational changes in the college experience have been created in the field of eLearning. Andrew Selepak, director of two master’s programs in the University of Florida’s telecommunications departments, agrees that the rise of online learning has changed the college experience since he began his doctorate program in 2007. “While earning three degrees, I never once took an online course. Since 2011, I have taught six online courses, been the director of two graduate online programs, regularly post online lectures for my in-residence students, and frequently interact with students through social media.”

He believes online classes offer numerous advantages:

  • Students can participate on their own schedule. “This offers the advantage of letting students take classes while having jobs or internships that meet during normal business hours and the students can do their coursework including lectures at night or on the weekends,” Selepak says.
  • Students can take classes anywhere. “No longer do they need to live in the same city, state or even country to take college courses. This can allow students to go to school from anywhere – including their parents’ house to save money,” he says.
  • With the rise of new courses and programs in online education, teaching is no longer limited to fulltime, in-residence faculty and instead courses can be taught by adjunct instructors anywhere in the world who work in the field they are teaching. “This creates an environment where instructors can offer feedback and examples from real-world examples that they are currently experiencing in the field.”

National Center for Education Statistics show that about 30 percent of undergraduate and graduate students take at least a portion of their classes in an online setting. Other sources show this to be indicative of a steady increase in enrollment in online courses.

Georgia Tech offers a master of science in Computer Science entirely online for less than $7,000. A traditionally earned degree in this field costs more than $40,000 and represents a massive savings for students and their parents.

Competitive market

A decade ago, colleges had to market themselves to prospective students to some extent, but it has become increasingly important in recent years. In part, this is due to changes made by the Obama administration. The Department of Education’s College Scorecard makes learning about the specific costs and outcomes associated with each school more accessible to students and their parents. They can compare the average annual cost, graduation rates, and average salary after graduation for any school.

This has resulted in colleges going to greater lengths to bring down costs, offer more amenities, and improve student outcomes with counseling and networking opportunities.

Expectations also have changed. Modern students do not view college as a place where they should be grateful to be as much as a place that should be grateful for their patronage. This is especially true for nontraditional students.

The growth of MOOCs

All of these points have combined in the form of Massive Open Online Courses known as MOOCs. These are platforms that offer free or low-cost course content to millions of people from around the world. The modular approach to learning, decreased cost, and ease of accessibility has created a demand in the marketplace that institutions of higher education are attempting to fill.

Another industry leader, edX, has partnered with top universities from throughout the country to create a comprehensive catalog of free classes for students. In some cases these credits can be transferred to participating universities or may lead to a valuable certification in a specific field.

College has transitioned rapidly to a digital space in the past 10 years. If current trends remain steady, in-person courses could be in the minority at some point soon.

Marisa Sanfilippo
Marisa is an award-winning marketing professional who loves to write. During the day, she wears her marketing hat in her marketing director role and at night she works as a freelance writer, ghost writing for clients and contributing to publications such as Huffington Post and Social Media Today.

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