Next week we will begin our annual ritual of meetings in preparation for launching our Fall, 2014 semester here at FHSU. We are just putting the finishing touches on our summer session and getting ready for the great migration – the arrival of our faculty and students to campus to begin another year of exciting work together. The exploration of ideas and the exchange of information continues to grow it seems at an exponential rate in higher education today. It is both wonderful and terrifying. What will this year bring at FHSU? How will the Graduate School impact the university and the region? The arrival of our new president will certainly influence the directions we take. It will be an exciting year of change. One thing is for sure…over 2000 graduate students can’t be ignored. Big things will happen…change will happen…new paradigms will be defined…and our graduate faculty and students will be in the lead. Our talented graduate faculty will point them in the right directions and our great staff will support them along the way. With the success of our graduate students will come the success of our undergraduate students, as well. Hang on for the ride. Here are four current trends I see impacting graduate education that we should watch for in the coming year.
Four current trends impacting graduate education to watch for this year
1. Accelerated Pathways to Graduate School – look for new programming ideas that use 4+1 or 3+2 models to emerge both within the university and through partnerships with outside institutions (e.g. creating combined bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 5 years). The benefits of such pathways for outstanding students far outweigh the challenges of implementation.
2. Technology – we think the advances in learning technology and their ubiquity will serve as excellent tools for our graduate faculty to teach in innovative ways and make significant strides forward in new learning models. In the hands of great people, these tools will create a significant advantage over our competition. We are excited to see what will emerge from the creativity and innovation of our graduate faculty this year, how our students will perform on our assessments, and to hear what our graduates have to say on our exit surveys. Technology is also impacting the administrative side of the university, and we are getting closer to doing business in a much more efficient way.
3. Internationalization – technology is making our world smaller and this may be a “breakout” year for the Graduate School to open new markets using the Virtual College as an internationalization asset. We are stepping closer to this reality each year. We’re not sure what the model will look like, but several ideas have been proposed that have merit and a few are advancing through the execution stages. Partnerships have been established, but are not yet activated. Remember that internationalization means “the process of becoming international” and we take two steps forward and one step back every year. Things look like chaos, but we are moving forward and FHSU is positioned well to move forward through the challenges of its future because of it.
4. Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) – love it or hate it, it’s on our doorstep. We’ve been studying this national trend for 2-3 years now, but this will likely be the year when the Graduate School will need to define it’s position on this trend. Graduate Council, we will be looking to you for guidance, so to be forewarned is to be forearmed. Start doing your homework to understand what this is all about. We are already starting to see PLA come into play with admissions (i.e. when students come to us with significant prior learning on their undergraduate transcripts) and we will need to get out in front of what we are going to accept in the form of graduate transfer credit we know is coming our way. The military market is where we will likely see this the most. As the military redefines all of its benefit programs after the budget sequester, it looks like graduate education across the nation is going to be the big winner for military officers. Will we be ready to respond? We will need to be.