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Education Outlook: Carol Taylor

Evangel University President

Posted online

Carol Taylor has served at the helm of the Christian liberal arts college for six years. She is an alumna whose career includes serving as president at Vanguard University in California and vice provost at Biola University in New Jersey, along with teaching at state universities in Florida, Nebraska and Michigan.   

2020 Projection: Schools will have to be innovative and adapt to the trends of growing acceptance of online education, the broadening of transnational education and filling in the skills gap by working directly with employers.

SBJ: Steep student loan debt has gotten more attention in the last few years. Is there a way to balance a student’s educational needs vs. the financial strain?
Taylor: Balancing students’ educational needs and the cost of higher education is a complex and critical issue. Every college and university that I am aware of is working hard to control cost and support students through a variety of scholarship programs while providing the highest quality educational experience for students. In many states, funding for higher education has declined while costs have increased.

Schools are also working diligently to provide scholarships to help support students’ educational pursuits. The discussion of balancing education needs and cost begins with the goals of each student, which should inform whether attending or starting with a community college vs. a four-year college or university is the best choice. Some vocations can be pursued with a technical or trade school degree or training. Some require a baccalaureate degree, and some require graduate degrees. The next consideration is balancing the level of student debt with expected income from the student’s chosen profession.

Ultimately, the question of student debt needs to be weighed with (return) of that investment. Stories often focus on students graduating with enormous levels of debt over $100,000, but the average student debt of college graduates in 2019 was $28,565. College graduates’ career earnings are 71%-136% higher than those of high school graduates, and Georgetown University reported that in 2018, 63% of jobs require a college degree or some college education.

SBJ: What degrees do you see bring about the quickest job placement?
Taylor: Our highest placement is business, education and theology. When we include acceptance to graduate schools, that would expand to include the behavioral and social sciences, and natural and applied sciences.

SBJ: What future trends do you see coming that universities will have to adapt to?
Taylor: All of higher education is in flux and just as innovation is the focus across industries – innovation is the challenge for higher education. The Brookings Institute recently identified six top trends: 1. Online education has become an increasingly accepted option, especially when “stackable” into degrees. 2. Competency-based education lowers costs and reduces completion time for students. 3. Income-share agreements help students reduce the risk associated with student loans. 4. Online program manager organizations benefit both universities and nontraditional, working/adult students. 5. Enterprise training companies are filling the skills gap by working directly with employers. 6. Pathway programs facilitate increasing transnational education, which serves as an additional revenue stream for universities.

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