On January 2, 1951, WWII Veteran Donald Grantham founded Grantham University to provide war veterans with an opportunity to continue their education in an affordable and flexible way. Sixty-six years later, Donald Grantham’s legacy continues. Higher education has changed significantly since 1951, and Grantham has embraced the change.
We decided to chat with Robert Kelchen, an expert in higher education policy and author of the Kelchen on Education blog, to share his thoughts on some of these changes.
Grantham University: What are some of the major changes we have seen in higher education?
Robert Kelchen: In the last several decades, there have been several major changes in higher education. The first big change is an increasingly diverse student body. The “traditional” college student, who moves away from home right after high school to attend college, is increasingly in the minority as more students return to college as adults, attend multiple colleges or take classes on a part-time basis. Students now have the ability to attend classes during weekends, evenings and online on their schedule.
GU: What has been the cause or motivators behind these changes?
RK: Some kind of postsecondary education is becoming mandatory for adults who want a good chance at a middle-class lifestyle. Forty or fifty years ago, young adults could get a solid job without going to college, but that is no longer the case for many people. This has helped contribute to the growth in college enrollment over the past few decades.
GU: Is there a shift from a traditional brick-and-mortar education to online learning?
RK: There has been a slow shift from traditional education to online education … about half of all students take at least one class online, even though most students still take at least one in-person class as well.
GU: What are your thoughts about the reported decrease in overall student enrollment in America?
RK: College enrollments, particularly among adult students, have fallen off over the past few years after spiking during the Great Recession. When the job market improves, more adults choose to work instead of going back to school. That is what is happening right now.
GU: What are some ways to potentially stop this downward trend?
RK: Making higher education more flexible could help reduce this downward trend, although it is unlikely to fully stop it. If students can proceed at their own pace, they may be willing to balance work and school where that may be more difficult in a traditional program.
GU: Is there a benefit to focused degree programs instead of an education that requires general liberal arts courses?
RK: Focused degree programs come with both pros and cons. These programs can help get students into the labor market faster with skills that employers want right now. However, focused programs may not help students gain the critical thinking or analytic skills for their next several jobs or for moving up the ladder.
GU: In what direction do you think higher education is headed?
RK: Most colleges will keep working to make higher education more flexible for students. The idea of competency-based education, in which students can move at their own pace instead of the traditional semester schedule, is becoming more common. Students will also bundle credits from a growing number of colleges or other sources to make up a degree.
Start Your Online Education at Grantham University
As a leader in online and military-friendly education, Grantham demonstrates that a digital platform can cultivate a community that values the betterment of each student’s life through education and service. A flexible course schedule and an abundance of readily available online resources allows students to complete their education at their own pace. For the busy adult learner, this is incredibly important.
If you are ready to challenge yourself and take a step toward your career goals, Grantham can help. Contact us today to learn more about getting started!