Transcript 47: Getting Ready for The Cliff, with Allison Lanier and Scott Fogleman


Intro:

You’re listening to Undeclared, the podcast that provides strategies to overcome the challenges that higher education institutions face. We help colleges and universities attract the right students because we know an educated planet is a better place for everyone. Please welcome your hosts, Scott Fogleman and Allison Lanier.

Allison Lanier:

Hi, I’m Allison.

Scott Fogleman:

And I’m Scott, and you’re listening to Undeclared, a podcast for higher education problem solvers, where we discuss all things higher ed with university and college professionals, as well as industry experts.

Allison Lanier:

The cliff, is it a decline or an abrupt drop?

Scott Fogleman:

The cliff.

Allison Lanier:

Yeah. So all I imagine with this cliff right now is the episodes of Wile E. Coyote going after the Road Runner and then Road Runner just stops, and so Coyote just plummets to the ground.

Scott Fogleman:

Yep.

Allison Lanier:

That’s literally the picture that I have in my head.

Scott Fogleman:

There’s an anvil coming right behind it.

Allison Lanier:

Yep. Well, first it might make sense to rewind a few years to understand why we’re even talking about it now. Really where it’s stemming from is the economic downturn that occurred in 2008. So, really what happened with that is that a lot of couples began holding off on starting families, really just because of all of the uncertainty that was around the economic shift, could they afford it?

Scott Fogleman:

A lot of people were just… Children were out of the question.

Allison Lanier:

Yep. And so that’s really… what is fully going to be impacting the high school graduation rates of 2025.

Scott Fogleman:

Yeah. And beyond that too. So to that point, Allison, the US birth rates never really recovered from that downturn in 2008. So we had a steep drop in 2008, but we’re still seeing the impact of that. And our birth rates have remained low. So this cliff is not just going to be a one or two year phenomenon where we had an economic downturn that we did recover from eventually, but this is going to be a lasting thing that we have to keep in mind.

Allison Lanier:

Yeah. I mean, it definitely can be. My thoughts around that are just with all the fun research I’ve been able to do around Generation Alpha, which will be coming out soon.

Scott Fogleman:

Yeah.

Allison Lanier:

We may be on a positive upturn. We just going to have to wait a little bit longer to see.

Scott Fogleman:

Yep. But there are some positive things that we do want to talk about today as we are talking about the cliff. So you guys have all heard about the negative sides of it, but you have time to prepare. And there’s also some areas that we can be excited about. So one of those is that we are preparing for, again, our traditional undergraduate students to decrease by up to 15%. But on the inverse of that, we’re actually expecting the number of degree seeking students age 25 to 34 to have a potential growth rate of up to 11% by 2026. So although there is some bad, there is some good. And although the number of nontraditional degree seekers are not going to replace the traditional undergraduates, an 11% growth is a positive number that we can start thinking about.

Allison Lanier:

So several ways we can do this include starting with conversations. Find out what these students are looking for, do a gap analysis and better understand where you can fill any potential voids that are uncovered. Other ways to reach this audience can be achieved through evolving your strategy to include degree completion programs, flexible learning options, like teleclasses and online programs, technical certifications, continuing education courses, and more opportunities for professional development in order to get ahead of it.

Scott Fogleman:

Absolutely. Awesome tips. And they’re even more areas of opportunity for us to pursue as we plan for the next few years as well. So students of color now represent more than 45% of total undergraduate students. Where in 1996, that percentage was only at 30. So within that statistic, the LatinX community has grown the most. We spoke about that in a previous section where we covered some Hanover trends, but this is a great opportunity for us to engage with new students, to grow our traditional student base through multicultural efforts. By representing those underrepresented students on our campus, we have another opportunity to continue to grow as those communities as a whole grow.

Allison Lanier:

Exactly. And by understanding the unique needs of this growing demographic, we can totally expand our reach. We can identify the content that will be most relevant to their decision making process, and understand what a primarily first generation student needs to be successful. So by doing this, we achieve a win for all, as that’s something that we like to call it, and we position ourselves for growth, not only in numbers, but also in diversity, inclusion, and equity for everyone.

Scott Fogleman:

Absolutely. So in several past episodes of Undeclared, we have also discussed other areas to highlight ways to prepare for this cliff. So some of those tips and tricks can really be broken down into four simple categories where you can listen to our guests talk through them. So number one would be Rebecca Stapley’s episode on trusting your team and building intra-departmental relationships.

Scott Fogleman:

The second one would be a great resource, listening to Althea Richardson from Clemson University discuss ways to create positive and encourage student experiences through campus wide diversity and inclusion efforts. Another episode that we recommend was provided by Jon-Stephen Stansel, and that’s about finding ways to maximize your brand success with social media and creating that additional reach and impact. And then lastly, from Jeremy Tiers, he was speaking to us from an admissions perspective and focused on, excuse me, ways to utilize nontraditional approaches to recruit traditional undergraduate students, really taking a page out of the athletics book.

Scott Fogleman:

So all that said, we do have a collective challenge for you. The challenge is to try and see the positive side of this pending cliff to take the needed action to innovate across your campus, and be passionate about this change. This is an opportunity for us to really determine where we’re going to go in the future. Embrace change, understand that not everything is going to be total bad news bears. There is some upside to this potential shortfall of students and it’s, at the end of the day, a way for us to increase our diversity, encourage an additional population of students to join us, and really innovate ourselves for future success.

Allison Lanier:

All right, problem solvers, be sure to subscribe to our show in Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. And we also wanted to go ahead and remind you that we are still doing our fun little giveaway for those of you who would like to leave us a review, we would greatly appreciate it. And here is how it works. In the Apple Podcast app, if you go to the library tab under shows, click on the podcast subscription, and scroll down to ratings and reviews to give it a star rating, then click, write a review and send it whenever you’re finished. But to make sure that you get entered into the drawing for the $5 gift card, be sure to take a screenshot once your review is submitted and then email it to hello@upandup.agency with your name, number, and mailing information. Not every submission may win a gift card, but we greatly appreciate all of your efforts. And we just want to hear from you.

Scott Fogleman:

All right, well, thank you everyone for tuning in for this quick and short episode of Undeclared. Until next time continue the great work out there, solving the problems of higher ed. And remember with this pending cliff, the choice is yours. You can be Wile E. Coyote and you can plummet as the Road Runner lures him to the edge, or you can be the Road Runner and you can get ahead of this cliff and you can use it to your advantage.

Outro:

Thank you for listening to this episode of Undeclared, the podcast that guides colleges and universities through their greatest challenges. Please leave us a rating and review and go to the undeclaredpodcast.com to tell us how we can help your college or university succeed. And remember an educated planet is a better place for everyone.