No question, these are interesting times for all of higher education—and for most individuals, personally and professionally. And while several colleges and universities reached their enrollment goals and objectives by May 1, the reality is that most of higher education is continuing to juggle numerous variables influencing consideration, selection and retention—and for many of them, dealing with the continued uncertainty that is lingering for so many members of the campus community, as well as the individuals and families thinking about whether or not they should even go to college.
For better or worse, we think it is worth repeating some food-for-thought that was shared via the two past May issues of Focus. Our theme last May was “Facilitating Meaningful Transformation,” and as we noted in that issue “our mindset is very preoccupied with thinking back to the situation we were all in a year ago (May 2020), reflecting on highlights and disappointments.” Back in 2020, we wrote about the importance of “Adapting to Meet the Challenge” and highlighted a continuing thematic: “Out of crisis comes opportunity—and hopefully, the confidence to do.”
Doing did get done, and as we mentioned in our May 2021 issue, “Words and actions did occur. Upskilling and collaboration happened more frequently. Many campus communities and organizations clearly understood the effectiveness of being a ‘branded-house team’ rather than solely a ‘house of brands’ full of many individuals and not collaborating together. As one person shared with us recently, ‘intramural squabbles’ did occur, but overall, the past year has facilitated more edupreneurial thinking and doing.”
The spirit of productive edupreneurism and genuine doing has increased. It has definitely brought some immediate benefits to so many campus communities and enhanced the mindset of the campus culture, but ironically so many people are now faced with a renewed uncertainty—inflation. Other variables are lingering, too, but the inflated costs/expenses of families simply funding the two basic needs that Maslow describes as “physiological and safety” are now a genuine catalyst for inflating the concern about the value of paying for a college education—and exacerbating the concern about the authentic net price, if people know enough to go beyond the published price.
The consequences of inflated expenses impact each campus community, too, so the consternation that has lingered for more than two years with everyone has not really disappeared. No matter what, don’t let this pull you down and be pessimistic, but rather use this as a continued catalyst to stay positive, foster new ideas, and strive for continuous improvement. Discuss, discern and do.
About Lawlor Advisory
Lawlor Advisory provides college and university leaders with an informed depth of expertise and a breadth of perspective to create distinction, enhance value and achieve results by providing market intelligence that leads to intelligent solutions via research, consulting, and communications. Currently, our advice and counsel are focused primarily on enrollment management, leadership/organizational consultation, operational audits, strategic planning and SWOT ideation sessions, creation and development of segmented communications via multiple channels, and presenting our Trends in Higher Education for campus communities and board leadership.