Photo courtesy NDSU
Article published with the kind permission of Lucy Wyndham
UNDATED (NewsDakota.com) – Total post-secondary enrollment (including undergraduate and graduate students) fell 4.1% in spring 2022 compared to spring 2021, according to a report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSCRC).
With the past two years having had a dramatic impact on the higher education sector, online learning methods might just be the silver lining. From understanding the current academic climate to how online learning accessibility can help students in a variety of ways, here’s what you need to know.
The current academic climate
More than a million fewer students are enrolled in college now than before the pandemic began, NPR notes. In fact, US colleges and universities saw a decline of nearly 500,000 undergraduate students in the fall of 2021, according to the data, and many left due to a variety of factors. In addition to the pandemic itself, other reasons for low college enrollment include the cost of attendance, and many are taking the time to prioritize work over school.
The declining enrollment trend is also not new to North Dakota, although there is hope – after several years of declining enrollment, North Dakota State University has seen a welcome increase in applications, according to an InForum article published in December 2021. The article notes that NDSU received 7,189 freshman applications for the 2022-21 school year (as of December 10, 2021), highlighting a increase over previous years. “The applications don’t match the enrolled students, but it’s certainly a good sign that people find our academic programs and student experience appealing,” notes Laura Oster-Aaland, vice-rector for student affairs and student management. registrations, at InForum.
A preference for online learning
While the increase in NDSU application numbers is promising, attracting and retaining students is an important aspect for higher education institutions across the country. According to a Digital Learning Pulse survey, 73% of students “somewhat” or “strongly” agreed that they would like to take fully online courses in the future, while 68% said they would be interested in take courses that offer a hybrid of online and in-person instruction.
The survey, which included responses from 772 faculty, 514 academic administrators, and 1,413 students enrolled at a U.S. higher education institution for the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters, highlights how higher education online is seen nationwide. To further underscore the popularity of online learning, onlineu.com notes that 62%, or nearly 40,000 college students in North Dakota, continue their education online.
Besides being a more cost-effective and flexible option for students in general, those with an introverted personality can derive other benefits from online courses. Due to the often demanding social environment that accompanies the traditional college experience, many introverts can sometimes feel overwhelmed or even uncomfortable. However, as digital learning grows in popularity, universities can support and foster introverts by offering online or hybrid courses. For those who need varied learning and the ability to continue their studies in a quiet environment, a digital learning environment can help create an academic atmosphere that will allow introverts to thrive.
Coping with the teacher shortage
While online learning options can be a good thing for North Dakota college students in any field, they can also help address current teacher shortages across the state. At its meeting at the UND Memorial Union on Thursday, September 8, the Interim Committee on Higher Education of the North Dakota Legislature introduced a bill that would provide funding for teacher shortage grants . According to the Grand Forks Herald, The Teacher Shortage Grants is a program of the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (NDDPI) that “provides funding for paraprofessionals to return to school online to earn college degrees. ‘education”.
The article goes on to explain the teacher shortage, noting that statewide, K-12 schools have 418 open teaching positions. “There are students who are interested in becoming a teacher, however, it is somewhat daunting to think of going to school for four years, racking up student debt and then considering paying that off on a salary. teacher,” Laurie Matzke, assistant superintendent at the NDDPI, tells the Grand Forks Herald.
The coronavirus pandemic, high registration costs, and other issues have presented challenges for students and educational institutions. When looking for a solution, adopting online learning methods can make higher education more accessible for many – and can even help solve problems such as teacher shortages.