5 Key Trends in Higher Education to Keep on Your Radar in 2024
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7 min read
February 9, 2024

5 Key Trends in Higher Education to Keep on Your Radar in 2024

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A new year brings new trends in higher education. And 2024 is no different. Students are changing their learning preferences, and colleges and universities must do what they can to keep up with the trends. 

But a change in learning preferences isn’t the only trend worth keeping an eye on. Here’s a look at five key trends in higher education that are sure to influence colleges and universities everywhere.

1. Updates to FAFSA (and the Implications for Admission Departments on Campus)

If you haven’t heard, the FAFSA overhaul is one of the most significant changes for higher education institutions. In 2020, Congress introduced the FAFSA Simplification Act, and it was finalized in 2023, meaning it’s currently a big trend in higher education.

Goodbye EFC, Hello SAI

The FAFSA Simplification Act aims to significantly change the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. In the past, when a student filled out a FAFSA, they were given an EFC or an Expected Family Contribution. This number determined how much money students and their families could reasonably pay for their education. The EFC took family members also enrolled in a college program into consideration, too. 

But gone are the days of the EFC. In its place is the SAI, or the Student Aid Index. Like the EFC, this number determines how much students can pay for their education. However, unlike the EFC, the SAI does not account for family members enrolled in college. This change significantly impacts family contributions and their ability to pay for their student’s college education. The SAI, though, does not determine eligibility for the Pell Grant. With the FAFSA overhaul, more students are eligible for the Pell Grant.

The changes to the FAFSA application aren’t the only thing to be aware of concerning it, though. It’s affecting admissions, too.

Extended Admission Deadlines

May 1 is an important date for many colleges and universities. Traditionally, May 1 is the deadline for admission applications. When students submit applications, they should submit a completed FAFSA. However, the release of the new FAFSA brings about some issues.

The current chatter concerning the FAFSA rollout predicts colleges and universities will not have access to financial aid information until March and students might not receive a financial aid award package until April. These FAFSA delays could significantly affect students submitting applications by the May 1 deadline. To solve the FAFSA delay issues, many colleges and universities have extended the May 1 deadline by a few months or extended it indefinitely.

It’s not hard to see why the FAFSA overhaul is a critical trend in higher education. The admission deadline changes and the changes to the FAFSA form will likely lead to changes in enrollment. That’s why it’s more crucial than ever that academic advisors stay in touch with students applying for admission to their institutions. Communication technologies like Cadence make it easy to keep in touch with students throughout the enrollment process. 

2. Preference for Hybrid or Remote Classes

If you’ve been in higher education for a while, you’ve likely noticed institutional changes brought on by the pandemic. Thanks to the pandemic and the new classroom experiences it brought to students, like online classes or the hybrid model, students are changing their preferences regarding how they want to learn. And it’s a trend in higher education worth paying attention to. 

More and more students are opting to enroll in hybrid and remote courses. According to a study by Brightspot Strategy, 43% of students prefer in-person classes, 17% prefer a blended environment, 18% prefer a hybrid class, and 22% want online-only courses. 

With more students opting to spend less time in person and on campus, colleges and universities need to find creative student engagement strategies to maintain contact with their students. One way to stay in touch with students is to implement Cadence on campus. Cadence allows professors and academic advisors to connect with current and prospective students easily, meaning you’ll be able to reach all students, even those not on campus.

3. Greater Focus on Data Security

Ensuring the security of your students’ and your institutions’ data continues to be a key trend in higher education in 2024. According to Check Point Software, colleges and universities saw an increase in cyber attacks in the first quarter of 2023 compared to previous quarters. 

Cyber attacks leave everyone, students and staff included, vulnerable because of the release of private information. That’s why you need to ensure that any technology you use on campus is up to date and in compliance with regulatory standards that are meant to keep your collected data safe. That includes any technology you use to communicate with your students.

Implementing Cadence on campus means you can worry less about cyber attacks. Cadence is secure and in compliance with regulatory standards, and the best part is that you’re in control of your data.

4. The Need for Community

The need for community and the rise in awareness regarding mental health are critical trends in higher education. Students want to feel connected to their campus, whether through involvement in on-campus clubs and activities or by being active on social media. Connected students lead to higher retention and graduation rates.

If you’re looking for ways to help keep students connected and engaged, try out Cadence. Cadence allows colleges and universities to contact students quickly and leverages sentiment analysis to keep a pulse on how they’re feeling. That way, you get an idea of students’ overall attitudes, meaning you know exactly when to reach out to encourage and lift students up.

5. Revolution of AI on Campus

Artificial intelligence is a hot topic and has become an important trend for colleges and universities. AI is popping up everywhere and can aid colleges and universities in their recruitment efforts.

Lead generation and lead follow-up are important parts of any institution’s recruitment plan.  Using AI, colleges and universities can save time in the recruitment process and reach new leads. New leads convert to new student admissions, so it’s critical to keep tabs on interested applicants and leave an open line of communication. 

Colleges and universities can implement AI tools like Cadence to monitor the chat box and respond to prospective students’ questions. If the question is more complex, an academic advisor can easily take over the chat and respond with the most accurate information.

Plus Cadence can help colleges and universities in their day-to-day workflows. It easily integrates into existing technology, like CRMs, to help create a comprehensive overview of prospective, enrolled, and matriculated student journeys. And can monitor emails, social media, and chat boxes to gather key insights to help fine-tune recruitment and engagement strategies.

With the time saved using AI, it’s easy to see why it has become a big trend in higher education.

Stay Ahead of the 2024 Trends in Higher Education

Higher education trends are constantly changing. So, staying current with the trends is vital to ensuring your students’ success from enrollment to graduation.

No matter which trend in higher education you plan to incorporate, Cadence can help ensure you successfully implement it on campus. Reach out today to book a conversation to learn more about partnering with Mongoose and how Cadence can help revolutionize your campus.