As a leading managed technology services provider for nearly 400 colleges and universities in the United States, Apogee is proud to support National Higher Education Day today, June 6. This day is dedicated to inspiring and educating future college graduates and championing financial aid, scholarships, and college readiness initiatives to drive higher retention and graduation rates. Apogee enables the organization’s mission by enabling campus leaders to unlock time to focus on the priorities that will drive innovation and competitive advantage. Higher education institutions who work with Apogee enjoy a strategic partnership that fosters a student-centered environment and delivers the ability to take advantage of next-generation technologies in ways they may not have been able to due to lack of resources and expertise.
The need to be focused on student success and innovation has never been more important. The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center’s numbers are in, and they were disappointing. Spring 2022 saw an enrollment decline of 4.7 percent even as the worst of the pandemic had subsided. Graduate and professional student enrollment, which had been a bright spot during the pandemic, declined 1 percent. The total number of students who did not enroll in college during the pandemic now totals 1.4 million, a drop of 9.4 percent. While all types of institutions suffered declines in Spring 2022, community colleges continued to be the hardest hit with a 7.8 percent decline.
The National Student Clearinghouse executive director believes something bigger is underlying the continued drops in enrollment. On a conference call with reporters, he said, “It suggests that there’s a broader question about the value of college and particularly concerns about student debt and paying for college and potential labor market returns.” According to National Higher Education Day, less than 50 percent of first-time college students finish their degree in six years. The two leading reasons for dropout are financial difficulties and poor academic preparedness.
Continued enrollment declines, doubts about educational ROI, and lack of student preparedness are major forces at work that require institutions to rethink how they will drive smart decision-making, accelerate innovation, and ensure equal access to technology for all students regardless of socioeconomic background. Apogee tends to partner with institutions that have this smart innovation mindset. Moving from in-house IT to a managed technology services partnership with Apogee is a competitive advantage that Apogee customers experience because the relationship unlocks campus leaders’ and teams’ time to focus on strategic priorities that will drive enrollment and student success.
Let’s look at three examples.
In a recent webinar hosted by Apogee, How 3 HBCUs Rebuilt Technology Services, our CEO Scott Drossos asked Kimberley Marshall, Vice President and CIO of Morehouse College, an HBCU in Atlanta, about her experience partnering with Apogee to drive a culture shift in how decisions are made: “Our main priority is the success of our students, and it is our responsibility to provide them with the right tools to do so. It was clear that we needed a world-class IT service provider. With Apogee, we have been able to create a culture of continuous evaluation and improvement to usher in a more unified approach to decision-making. This provides opportunities to better align investments with financial and student learning outcomes.”
Campus leaders need to anticipate and plan for the future while delivering exceptional experiences now. Jamel Wright, President of Eureka College, a private liberal arts college in Eureka, Ill., embodies this forward-thinking and innovative ethos. In the Apogee-hosted webinar How 3 Colleges Innovate and Address Budget Challenges with Managed IT Services, Dr. Wright noted, “The timing of our Apogee partnership could not have been more perfect. We signed with Apogee a year before the COVID pandemic hit and were better prepared for online learning than most. They helped us navigate a very difficult time for students, faculty, and our institution as a whole.”
Equitable Access to Technology
Ensuring equal access to technology for all students helps with persistence and graduation rates. Sarah Waters, Director of Student Housing at the University of Kansas, the state’s flagship public university, knows that technology access and reliability are linked directly to positive student experiences, retention, and graduation rates, and that campus leaders must meet Gen Z demands for connectivity without limits. Students rely on their devices, fast and reliable internet access, and campus IT support for course delivery, homework and testing, entertainment, interpersonal communications, and health and wellness.
In the webinar How IT and Housing Work Together for Student Success, Waters said she understands the dynamics of creating and nurturing a student-centered environment and equitable technology playing field for all students. She explained, “We wanted to provide excellent service to all our students – not just the ones who could afford to live in the nicest facilities. It became an equity and social justice issue for us to provide the same level of IT service for all our students.”
Kimberley Marshall, Dr. Jamel Wright, and Sarah Waters exemplify the innovative, caring, and determined campus leaders that Apogee proudly partners with to help their institutions drive change with technology. On National Higher Education Day, we extend a big congratulations to all our customers for the work they are doing to deliver educational ROI and campus experiences that students and their families demand.