Current Challenges Higher Education Leaders Face

Challenges in Higher Ed

Many different leaders make up the success of a higher education institution. From the President to the Director of Financial Aid, there are professionals with the knowledge to progress the institution, create change, and drive success.  Every industry faces challenges on a regular basis. The deciding factor of these challenges is whether or not they can be overcome in order to continue greatness.  In this article you’ll learn about specific challenges facing higher education leaders today, and how an online Master’s degree in Leadership from Concordia University Chicago (CUC) prepares you to overcome current and future challenges in higher education.

Alumni Relations Directors Face Giving Shortages

As you know, alumni donations are important for colleges and universities to have additional revenue that can benefit current and future students. This additional revenue may go toward the operational budget, scholarships to current students, meaningful programs, or campus renovations depending on the institution’s goals.  Unfortunately, many higher education institutions are facing a giving shortage which can be due to various reasons.  Alumni Relations Directors should pay special attention to current trends in alumni giving and the factors that could be causing this giving shortage, such as: 
  1. An increase in student loan debt after graduation may hinder alumni donations.
  2. The Tax Cuts and Job Act went into effect in 2018, which causes fewer taxpayers to itemize charitable contributions. 
  3. Alumni giving tends to correlate with how well the stock market is doing. 
Alumni Relations Directors and their colleagues can overcome challenges with innovative thinking and problem-solving — skills you sharpen in the MA in Leadership program at CUC. Specific courses that fully prepare you for a role in alumni relations include: 
  • Strategic Leadership & Planning
  • Fiscal and Social Responsibility in Higher Education 
  • Institutional Advancement and Development in Higher Education      

Academic Advisors At Times Lack Support

Academic Advisors have an important role in a college and university setting. Some of the ways Academic Advisors support students’ successes include:
  • Teaching students how to navigate systems
  • Ensuring students stay on track with graduation requirements
  • Informing students about possible graduate pathways and careers
However, at times Academic Advisors feel they lack support from the institution itself—especially if the institution has a high student-to-advisor ratio. Advisors feel they don’t have enough time to have meaningful one-on-one meetings with their assigned students.   Colleges and universities were forced to pivot when the COVID-19 global public health emergency began in March 2020. Advisors were left with only one option: to meet with students online. This allowed institutions to rethink advisor-student needs and allowed for more advisor access to all students. Eric R. White writes in, Academic Advising in a Pandemic and Beyond, “The value of an institution having a vibrant academic advising program, able to pivot quickly when the circumstances demand, cannot be underestimated. Being able to connect each student with a primary academic adviser should be the goal for all institutions.”     This may be an instance where overcoming a challenge as a higher education leader would require more conversations with other departments. In order to execute necessary changes (such as continued use of technology to meet students), you must be a strong leader and well-prepared to face challenges head-on. An MA in Leadership from CUC prepares you for such endeavors.  

Admissions Officers Deal With Enrollment Changes

The role of an Admissions Officer is to provide prospective students with information about their institution and to review applications to help determine which students will be admitted. According to a recent higher education study conducted by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, Spring 2021 undergraduate enrollment decreased since Spring 2020 while graduate enrollment increased.  Public four-year, private nonprofit four-year, private for-profit four-year, and public two-year institutions are all part of the research.  Here are some key statistics comparing Spring 2021 to Spring 2020: 
  • Spring 2021 undergraduate enrollment decreased 5.9% 
  • Community colleges are hit the hardest, with an 11.3% decrease in enrollment
  • Native Americans enrolling in undergraduate programs dropped 13%
  • Graduate Certificate enrollment increased 10%, Master’s enrollment increased 5.2%, and Doctoral enrollment increased 3.6%
As Admissions Officers figure out ways to combat this decrease in undergraduate enrollment, it largely depends on the institution as a whole to figure out solutions to drive students to their schools. Earning an MA in Leadership with a specialization in Higher Education provides you with a robust curriculum that dives into all areas of higher education such as: leadership, strategic planning, historical and societal issues, law, and more. So you can address any admissions challenge with a deep knowledge of higher education leadership.        

Resolve Any Challenge With A Master’s in Higher Education Leadership

The online MA in Leadership: Higher Education Specialization program from Concordia University Chicago prepares you to take on leadership roles in higher education with confidence. You’ll be prepared to overcome challenges higher education institutions are currently facing and new challenges that may arise.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of postsecondary education administrators is projected to grow by about 7,000 jobs by 2029. On top of the job growth, you’ll be able to collect a healthy salary. The BLS reports the median annual wage in May 2020 to be $97,500.   Earning an MA in Leadership: Higher Education Specialization prepares graduates for jobs such as:
  • Academic Advisor
  • Continuing Education Specialist
  • Alumni Relations Director
  • Director of Research
  • VP of Student Affairs
If you need the flexibility of an online MA program and still want to receive the teaching and experience you need to thrive in your new role, then visit our Leadership: Higher Education Specialization overview page to learn more.

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