A Bright Future? Post-secondary Education After the Pandemic

 

Despite its negative connotation, change doesn’t have to be for the worse. While it does naturally go hand in hand with periods of disruption or survival, it is possible to approach change with a positive attitude and treat uncertainty as an opportunity.

Change can be anticipated. When we are able to recognize that change follows a predictable pattern, we can learn to manage our reactions and understand how to navigate it functionally and emotionally. This allows us to strategically determine how to best move forward and equip ourselves and our organizations with a flexible mindset, even in the most challenging stages.

Colleges and universities are at a crossroads, considering how education will change in the future and how to appropriately break the status quo without bringing along the fear that comes with change. Particularly in the space of higher education, the old adage “The only constant is change” has never been truer. This period of major upheaval in the academic landscape was brought about by game-changing technology, a pandemic forcing classrooms to rely upon that tech, and today’s college students’ expectation that their institutions will support them not just academically, but also socially and emotionally. Juggling such certainly puts the higher ed space in a precarious position.

But the way to manage this might be simpler than you realize.

 

Build individual confidence through a predictable pattern of change

The ability to recognize the patterns of change equips universities with a valuable resource when it comes to navigating periods of change–confidence. When colleges and universities are able to view change as a period of momentum rather than disruption, good things can come out of disruption, like innovation.

Predicting change instead of merely reacting to it is certainly easier said than done, but colleges and universities cannot expect the needs of their students to remain consistent. There is always evidence of changes already occurring, and the sooner institutions are able to identify them, the sooner they are able to harness their resources to confidently pivot and implement (or maybe even develop!) new pedagogies that facilitate their survival –  as well as the success of their students, faculty, and staff.

 

Successfully lead people through the human reactions to change

Change is not just a process, but a person-driven movement. Catering to the unique needs of your students can position your institution to support them beyond the classroom, making both students and universities more versatile in a post-pandemic world. 

Dr. Bruce Leslie employed FranklinCovey’s The 4 Disciplines of Execution®, also referred to as 4DX, in his former role as Chancellor of the Alamo Colleges District. By identifying a clear WIG (Wildly Important Goal), the Alamo district was able to reevaluate how they used their resources and met students expectations while establishing a culture of communication and collaboration – all of which incidentally helped students succeed in enrolling in, affording, and thriving during and after higher education. Through this methodology, Dr. Leslie and his colleagues increased graduation rates within the district by 244 percent. 

The Alamo Promise program, implemented by Alamo Colleges' current Chancellor, Dr. Mike Flores, and community business leaders, continues this work by expanding the scope of higher education to look at the whole student – the one with a life outside of the classroom, and a future beyond graduation. This human-centric approach to education allowed the Alamo team to teach the faculty, staff, and students to hold themselves and one another accountable for their ongoing success, especially for first-generation and lower-income students. The Alamo Promise created momentum for its students and provided them with a measurable return on investment of their time and energy spent in college while debunking myths of inaccessibility in the higher education space.

 

Optimize any change management process

Equip your institution and your employees with the resources necessary to support students’ needs instead of catering to a set of outdated expectations. The more support services institutions can provide their students, the more colleges and universities are able to foster innovation in and beyond the academic space. Facilitating change by promoting novel thinking and soft skills can make higher education more compelling for those questioning just how effective it is in preparing students for life in the workplace.

Introducing alternative credentials like those through LeaderU by FranklinCovey can add flexibility to your curriculum and attract students who see the formal education system as outdated or unhelpful when it comes to helping them succeed in their future careers. The ability to provide classes in digital formats with flexible timeframes is a luxury that colleges and universities can certainly leverage to empower students and rewrite the reputation of higher education. This flexibility can help optimize the process of change in this landscape and give students and institutions the skills to manage it successfully.

 

Turn uncertainty into opportunity

Understanding that positive change can come from listening to the needs of their students, colleges and universities can more confidently develop novel approaches to higher education and stoke that same sense of innovation in their students, faculty, and staff. Institutions have more resources than ever to navigate periods of change and create momentum in the higher ed space: from cutting-edge technology and pedagogy to alternative credentials that promote soft skills

Taking advantage of opportunities to implement these new techniques and strategies gives institutions leverage in disrupting the academic space as we know it. Knowing a bright future for higher learning is ahead, colleges and universities can feel less fear about the state of education in the future and confidently forge a more multidimensional higher ed experience for their students.

 


 

How to Create a Powerful Student Leadership Program
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Interview With Bruce Leslie, Chancellor Emeritus of The Alamo Colleges District on 4DX
Interview With Bruce Leslie, Chancellor Emeritus of The Alamo Colleges District on 4DX

In this interview, Dr. Leslie explains how FranklinCovey’s The 4 Disciplines of Execution®, also referred t...

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4DX Higher Ed Leadership Panel (Episode 2)
4DX Higher Ed Leadership Panel (Episode 2)

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