“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.”
Jeffrey J. Selingo of the Washington Post recently noted that “there are fewer students graduating from American high schools these days compared to just a few years ago, as the teenage population has dropped off in much of the country.”
This should alarm us all. It points to deep demographic and economic changes we are experiencing in the United States. Last week during a meeting of higher education leaders from the Columbus Region, I was reminded that the disruptive forces reshaping business and government are also directly impacting colleges and universities. The Washington Post article linked above and the book College Disrupted sum up the undercurrents of change that are causing enrollments to decrease and operating models to be made obsolete.
While disturbing, it is also heartening to hear that students and workers are quickly realizing that they are in an era that requires continuous learning, and they are getting practical. A college education leads to higher lifetime earnings and those who continue to gather credentials and skills are rewarded with promotions and higher wages in the short term.
Clearly, there will be implications for institutions of higher learning, including the ever-nimble technical and community colleges. The majority of today’s young people may not experience higher education as it has been for decades.
Change will come to employers, too. Will they allow ample time for continuous learning? Will they change how they work with institutions and how they recruit?
I’m proud that leaders of Columbus Region colleges and universities are meeting, discussing these changes and engaging with the economic development community. This collaborative attitude will allow our institutions, the students they serve and our communities to adapt.