A Shared Responsibility: The Learner-to-Earner Journey
How Modern Campus and DIGARC Are Coming Together to Close the Skills Gap
By: Brian Kibby
As a higher education community, we have a job to do: ensure that anyone who invests in their education is given a fighting chance to achieve their full potential.
And when we look at ourselves in the mirror in the morning, we must give ourselves some straight talk. The average student loan debt is $30,062 and 41% of our students are under-employed one year after graduation.
What’s worse? More than half of the graduates from over 2,000 American higher education institutions (52% of our colleges and universities overall) earn less than $28,000 a year six years after graduation—that’s $13.50 an hour.
This is unacceptable, and it’s shaking public confidence that higher education institutions can provide the learner-to-earner journey today’s students need.
Students of all ages are also acutely aware of the cost of college. With student debt passing $1.74 trillion, modern learners keep a close eye on how much they’re going to be paying for their education and want to know what they can expect on the other end.
After all, these are customers who recognize that they’re not buying a product as much as they’re investing in their future—in themselves. They rightly expect to have clarity around what comes next.
Recognizing and addressing this need will characterize higher education’s future. Even though 58% of freshmen enroll in a college or university primarily to achieve their career outcomes, many higher education institutions still feel like focusing on jobs is too vocational.
What’s more, while most colleges and universities have a skills-focused division on their campuses—their continuing education or workforce development unit—these units don’t tend to have visibility among active students. My own son is progressing toward his degree with a 4.0 GPA from a top 50 research institution, but has never received any marketing materials from his university’s continuing ed division encouraging him to enroll in an upskilling program (eg.,: digital marketing certification over the summer break!) to help prepare him for the workforce!
Helping higher education institutions establish clear learner-to-earner pathways for their students is our passion. Ideally, we want to help every college and university establish itself as the lifelong learning hub for their students, so they can establish decades-long relationships with students rather than maintaining an all too often transactional two- or four-year engagement.
From our vantage point at Modern Campus, we want to ensure higher ed institutions are armed with the tailor-made solutions and technologies they need to deliver on the needs and expectations of modern learners. Colleges and universities need every advantage to attract, engage, and graduate the modern learner on time, with a clear pathway to a great career.
That’s what excites me the most about our acquisition of DIGARC. The marriage of DIGARC and Modern Campus helps higher education institutions deliver on the needs of today’s students by combining a highly personalized web experience with world-class catalog navigation. This acquisition will help Modern Campus provide our over 1,000 partner institutions with the capacity to offer clearer and highly personalized learner-to-earner pathways for their students.
This shift will help students find the institutions that are right for them because the right colleges will stand out to the right learners. It will also ensure students can identify the courses and degrees that will help them achieve their career goals, and then ensure they can establish the education and co-curricular pathway to earn their credential of choice.
Like any consumer, today’s learner expects their college or university to deliver a highly personalized, Netflix-like experience. According to the 2021 E-Expectations Trends Report from Ruffalo Noel Levitz, students consider the website the most important source of information about an institution before they enroll, and appreciate when the institution makes it easy to find content relevant to their interests.
It’s beyond exciting to be looking at a future where a higher education website can deliver on the expectations of modern learners. This renewed focus will do more than improve conversion and enrollments of new students. It will go beyond to secure the institution as each individual’s lifelong learning hub—providing them opportunities for ongoing education over the course of their lives.
This shift—in thinking and in functionality—will help colleges and universities across North America deliver on their missions and meet the needs of their communities.
Establishing clear and coherent learner-to-earner pathways is our shared responsibility—and it’s a responsibility we at Modern Campus take seriously. We are entrusted with helping to close the skills gaps that keep folks out of available jobs in sustainable careers, and we have the capacity to help students navigate and overcome these gaps. I trust you’re as excited about the opportunity as much as we are!
Last updated: June 11, 2021