As institutions of higher education cope with the global pandemic, I can’t help but think about the implications our rapid change will have on the future. There are only a few occasions in my lifetime that I recall institutions of our size making such strong pivots and in every instant, there were ripples that impacted the way in which we operated and served our purpose in the years that followed.
As campus leaders make decisions about the present and brainstorm about the future, it further exhibits the intricate web that makes up the higher education industry. As I reflect on my experience working in student affairs and academic affairs, here is a sampling of the things I wonder about as we look to an uncertain fall semester.
- How will the impending birth dearth, expected to hit college campuses in 2024, exasperate the anticipated enrollment challenges to come due to the pandemic?
- How will faculty anticipate and adjust to student’s potential learning deficits in prerequisite courses in which they are currently enrolled in?
- How can/will student affairs professionals bring awareness to the impact of delayed trauma related to the pandemic when operations seemingly become fully functional again and how can colleagues support them in keeping this on the priority list?
- How will institutions respond to student’s expectations for increased online offerings now that we’ve demonstrated it is possible, even when it isn’t very effective?
- How will this pandemic impact regulations related to vaccinations?
- As many campuses prepare for declines in enrollment, what areas on campus will lose the budget battle?
- How will the current work at home standards influence flex scheduling for employees, including student workers?
- How will the current accommodations for standardized testing (SAT, ACT, etc.) impact future admission standards?
- How will institutions handle the mass exodus of staff in the coming year, as the combination of this year’s hiring season being delayed, the fatigue of employees dealing with unrealistic expectations or mismanagement, and typical attrition will be compounded? And how are they ensuring continuity within departments?
- How will campus presidents overcome the tidal wave of challenges, especially those that serve historically underrepresented student populations and first-generation college students, and balance the needs of the business with the needs of the mission?
I recognize that the answers vary by institution and in today’s climate things are changing by the hour. Truthfully, if you asked me tomorrow I’d have another ten questions, but perpetual curiosity is the path to lifelong learning.
What are some things you’ve wondered about?