Today’s students are more diverse than any previous generation of college students: they’re diverse in age, race, and income level. They’re more mobile and may not live on campus. Most participate in the workforce, either full-time or part-time. Work and family responsibilities beyond the classroom—whether that is on-campus or online—often compete with the educational goals of today’s students. Younger workers are changing jobs as many as four times by age 32, so lifelong learning and continuing education have quickly become the norm for most adults.
It’s time to put the realities of these students at the center of federal higher education policy. But many existing federal postsecondary education and workforce policies date back to a time when most students went immediately from high school to a four-year university or a trade school upon graduation. Higher Learning Advocates is re-releasing our Policy Toolkit for Today’s Students with new recommendations to help policymakers and leaders in higher education understand the growing disconnect between current federal policy and the needs of today’s students and how federal policy can offer solutions.