Giving Compass' Take:

•  Tom Vander Ark, writing for Getting Smart, points out that while many Americans have a declining interest in attending traditional colleges, there are seven key ways to improve upon higher education to reverse this trend. 

• What is the role of donors in helping improve higher education? Where is there opportunity for collaboration? 

Read Tom Vander Ark's first piece of this series calling out 12 trends that are killing college. 


We are watching the slow motion implosion of a cherished institution. The majority of Americans have lost confidence in college and many are considering alternatives.

A growing number of high school graduates are skipping college and stepping into technical jobs that offer an earn and learn career ladder. High school students that aspire to college are accumulating more free credit while in high school.

Despite the bad news, there are new entrants and updated incumbents that are dramatically improving their value proposition. Following are seven keys to a vibrant future for higher education.

  1.  Clarity of Purpose. Key to delivering value in higher education is clarity of purpose. Thriving institutions have created a distinctive mission and focus on active engagement around priority outcomes.
  2. Broader Evidence. Garrett Lord, CEO of career network Handhshake said two thirds of messages on the platform did not include GPA, companies are more interested in evidence of job ready competencies.
  3. Focus on Employability. Students are clear about their focus on employability and colleges are following their lead by focusing on job-ready skills.
  4.  Supporting Adult Learning. Many community colleges have long served so-called nontraditional students (25 and older) but they’re becoming the norm on many four year campuses as well. The need for lifelong learning is accelerating this trend.
  5. Active Monitoring. Using chatbots, big data sets and predictive algorithms, a growing number of institutions are monitoring academic and social health and pinpointing interventions to boost persistence.
  6. Focus on Affordability. ASU has put access first, control costs, and support completion. In addition to cost control measures, universities are following Purdue’s lead and holding the line on cost and exploring income sharing agreements to reduce student debt.
  7.  Agility. The education advocacy group America Succeeds calls this new era the Age of Agility.

Read the full article about how to fix higher education by Tom Vander Ark at Getting Smart.