When I had the opportunity some weeks ago to speak with Brian Bridges, vice president of research and member engagement at the United Negro College Fund, he said something that made so much sense to me as a parent and as an advocate for personalized learning: “We need to think about the student holistically.”
This is a pretty common sentiment for me to hear with one daughter in preschool and another in kindergarten, when it seems we’re far readier as a culture to recognize learner’s individual needs and circumstances. Every child is different, pediatricians and preschool teachers the world over assure us when not every child is doing the same thing at the same time.
But what happens when they start school, and when they graduate into college? Aren’t we all different as adults, too?
For Bridges, the changing demographic of student populations in postsecondary and higher education, including traditionally underserved learners or students who may have families or other responsibilities, calls for new approaches that take these things into account. His perspective is supported by one of our new resources, Shaping the Future of Learning: Higher and Postsecondary Education Strategy Workbook, which challenges readers to consider what it will mean to be college and career ready in 2025, and what practices can be adapted today to best serve learners now and in the future.
Because there’s a genuine urgency for institutions of higher education to adapt, according to Bridges. “If you don’t understand the needs of the future… it’s not just the institution that suffers,” Bridges said. “The students in the communities you serve will suffer more.”