AS THE WORLD faces an unprecedented social and economic reality, it’s clear the dramatic and sudden upheaval over the past eight months has many prospective college students in crisis mode, as they take this time to focus on day-to-day needs. In the United States, for instance, there was an 11 percent decrease in Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) submissions. This drop in applications for financial aid indicates that students are less inclined to pursue traditional bachelor’s degrees amid the pandemic.
Fortunately for many higher education institutions, the number of students pursuing graduate business degrees has helped offset the decline, with many schools experiencing stable or rising enrollment numbers. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, full-time MBA applications at the country’s top schools rose 13 percent this year, reversing a five-year downturn.
As these trends unfold, universities are placing their bets on a successful fall 2021 semester. Some industry watchers predict an enrollment windfall for undergraduate and graduate programs, as students adjust to the new normal and once again turn to higher education to support their professional and financial growth.
For these reasons, business school leaders should view the next few months as an opportunity. It’s time for each of them to answer an important question: How can my institution reinforce its brand identity and continue to grow, even as it responds to the needs of its community?
LEAN INTO DIGITAL TRADITION
Higher education is, at its core, a service industry; institutions base their value on the academic experience they provide. Given the fact that the pandemic has pushed many academic programs online, the first thing business school leaders must do is strengthen or grow their faculty’s capacity to deliver quality online learning experiences.
Unfortunately, this spring, many campuses dealt with an unexpected—and sometimes bungled—transition to a digital instructional delivery, causing their students to question their ability to deliver educational value during the pandemic. On the other hand, those business programs with longstanding expertise in online learning were able to greatly increase their value over the past year.
FOCUS ON SKILLS-BASED BENEFITS
Business schools are traditionally among the first to pivot their curricula and recruitment efforts in response to sudden economic change. That’s why so many attract nontraditional students and adult learners, who themselves might be pivoting to new positions and careers. As the technology and logistics industries are showing unprecedented growth due to COVID-19, it is the perfect time for business schools to offer a variety of skills-focused degrees and certificates.
To continue reading click here.