Navigating the New Higher Learning Landscape

Today’s students need access to a variety of higher learning programs that equip them with the tools they need to succeed in the evolving workforce. The linear path from high school to college and employment is increasingly insufficient: today’s students may need several entry and exit points to and through higher learning throughout their lives. These pathways criss-cross traditional higher education, workforce development, apprenticeships, and non-degree programs.

While a growing number of providers are responding to the learning needs of today’s students, there is a mismatch between the evolving higher education landscape and federal policies, funding models, and quality assurance.  In our new paper, “Multiple Pathways & Quality Assurance: Navigating the New Higher Learning Landscape,” Higher Learning Advocates proposes to move toward a more coherent model that integrates the strengths of all providers and counts all high quality student learning, wherever it occurs.

Americans are already accessing multiple pathways to and through post-high school learning.  One in four Americans have a non-degree credential or certificate, more than thirty percent of today’s students transfer courses between institutions, and one in three students take at least one course online.

However, more can be done to help to both make sure that pathways are coherent, meaningful and high-quality and ensure that all students, regardless of income, can access the programs they need. Through a focus on transparency and outcomes and responsible experimentation, we can create effective guardrails to ensure the quality of new entrants to the system and fully recognize the innovative models capable of preparing students for the workforce.

To learn more about multiple pathways and quality assurance, read the issue paper here.