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Education is Evolving: 5 Trends Shifting the College Landscape

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By Rachelle Wilber

There was a time when colleges were filled with young men and women, fresh out of high school, who wanted to advance in a career. Students attended classes throughout the day with most staying in dormitories on the college campus while going to school. Today, the college landscape is much different due to these five trends which are causing colleges to evolve.

Working Adult Students

In 2012, the number of students aged 25 or older increased by 42 percent between 2000 and 2010, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. This means that colleges must provide a more flexible learning environment to meet the needs of students who have family, work and social obligations that make traditional college learning difficult.

Online Learning

According to the U.S. Department of Education, almost 13 percent of students enrolled in higher education were working toward a degree entirely online, while just over 13 percent were enrolled in some online courses while also taking traditional classes. Today, people have the ability to earn almost any degree online, from an associate’s degree in graphic design to a master’s degree in music education and all the way to doctorate level degrees.

First Generation College Students

One trend being experienced at the college level is a growth in registration of traditionally underserved populations, such as lower income and minority families. This means a growing number of students who are the first in their families to attend college. Many colleges are now focusing on programs that will encourage low-income and minority students to remain in school and complete their degree.

Increased Technology

There is much more technology available for today’s college student than in generations past. Students are now able to collaborate on projects with people in other countries or conference with instructors during virtual office hours. Even traditional classrooms now use a blend of technology-driven curriculum to further engage students.

Learning Without Borders

There is a growing trend toward international students at many colleges and universities. Not only are more international students coming to the United States to learn, but many American students are also studying abroad. Almost all colleges offer study-abroad programs that provide students with an education that not only includes classroom learning but also helps them develop an understanding of cultures in other parts of the world as well.

These are just a few trends that are changing the college landscape. As administrations address the cost of attending college and develop even more non-traditional methods of learning to meet the needs of adult learners, these trends may very well become commonplace among higher education institutions.

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Bio: Rachelle Wilber is a freelance writer living in the San Diego, California area. She graduated from San Diego State University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. She tries to find an interest in all topics and themes, which prompts her writing. When she isn’t on her porch writing in the sun, you can find her shopping, at the beach, or at the gym. Follow her on twitter: @RachelleWilber

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