Back to School: Key Topics from the Spring that Should Be on Your Mind

What should you be thinking about as the new school year approaches?View of classroom with teacher and thoughtful student

Summer is coming to an end and back-to-school crunch time is here. With so much to think about and plan for, what are the key topics from this past year that should be on your mind? We’ve gathered some of the top challenges and opportunities here.



HigherEd, like most other industries, is in a tough hiring market. The great resignation is persisting and the number of job openings is still elevated. Colleges and universities are facing an even greater challenge, since they often can’t compete with other sectors in terms of compensation, hybrid work benefits, and more.

Don’t let this discourage you, because there is a lot your team can do. Embrace recruitment marketing as part of your hiring strategy (check out this guide to get started). Simplify every aspect of your hiring process—make it as easy as possible for job seekers to find, engage with, and apply to your job postings. Make sure your candidate experience is digital and modern, and market your institution with visual content like video campus tours.


Quote: "Offering clear goals and learning paths improves employee engagement and helps them feel valued by the institution."Faculty and staff retention

Employee retention is a challenge that goes hand-in-hand with hiring. Increasing your institution’s focus on retaining current faculty and staff reduces open positions in need of hiring, saves money on onboarding new employees, supports succession planning and leadership development efforts, and increases employee satisfaction.

Performance management is key to retention, as is a focus on professional development. Offering clear goals and learning paths improves employee engagement and helps them feel valued by the institution. In fact, lack of growth opportunities and development resources is a top reason for employees to leave their roles—don’t let your institution fall into that category!


Student enrollment and success

Student enrollment is still down significantly from pre-COVID levels, and there are indicators that enrollment may never recover as public perception about higher education continues to shift. While student success and retention are a core focus for student-facing departments at your institution, don’t forget that human resources and academic teams can impact student outcomes as well. Reducing faculty administrative workload and burnout and creating a supportive campus culture empowers them to spend more time focusing on students. Embracing digitization and data analytics across campus—including faculty activity data—offers new insights that can pinpoint important connections between student outcomes and courses, campus interactions, and more. Ensuring that your office’s DEI initiatives are working also impacts students – a diverse faculty body can have a huge impact on student success and retention.


The future of HigherEd

The value of HigherEd should be on your mind as you enter this new school year. From the impact of college graduates on the world to the long-term rewards from academic research, colleges and universities are a vital part of local and global communities. With shifting public perceptions, it’s more important than ever for higher education institutions to understand and measure this impact. Embracing data analytics—and connecting with peer institutions to get insight into the HigherEd landscape—is vital to creating a strategy for telling the story of your institution’s impact and for building strategies for the coming year. Check out this blog post about innovation and adaptability at community colleges for some different ways to think about the future of HigherEd, fulfilling student needs, and connecting with your community.


Final thoughts

The last few years have been full of new challenges for higher education, and there is no doubt that the challenges will keep evolving in the coming year. Even as you prepare for whatever’s next, don’t forget about the lessons learned from what your institution has already faced!