Column: Colleges

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A new survey by the College Board suggests that the "graying" of the American college campus evident in this decade will continue through the turn of the next century.

By the year 2000, adults will make up 50 percent of college students, according to the College Board's office of adult learning services.

Fortunately for schools, which face a significant drop in the ranks of 18- to 21-year-olds, adult students are not only flocking to enroll, but are providing a much heftier chunk of institutional income than in the past.

Schools used to assume that it took four adult students to equal the revenue produced by a younger student. The survey found, however, that two and a half adults are every bit as good for the budget as a fresh-faced high-school graduate.

On the other hand, it suggests, schools will have to learn to provide the different services needed by adults. Older students need such supports as convenient registration hours, parking spaces, and help with jobs off campus. But they have little use for the organized social activities and transportation sought by younger students.

The report by Carol B. Aslanian, director of the adult learning office, and Henry M. Brickell, "How Americans in Transition Study for College Credit," is available for $9.95 per copy from College Board Publications, Department M98, Box 886, New York, N.Y. 10101-0886.

Efforts by community and junior colleges to play a greater role in producing a well-trained workforce are being bolstered by a grant program of the Sears Roebuck Foundation.

The foundation's Partnership Development Fund has awarded $300,000 in grants to 29 schools. The fund is directed by the American Association of Community and Junior Colleges.

This year's grants concentrate on programs serving minority students and others "at risk."

Big Bend Community College in Moses Lake, Wash., for example, will receive aid to develop a rural regional skills center, while the City Colleges of Chicago will get help for a minority-business export project.

A new publication intended to focus on some of higher education's tougher issues has made its debut. The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Higher Education Research Institute of the University of Pennsylvania this month launched Policy Perspectives, a quarterly journal of ideas about academe.

The publication's initial focus will be on three critical policy areas: rising college costs, the quality of postsecondary education, and the issue of access. The inaugural issue sets out an agenda for reform in each realm.

Policy Perspectives will be sent free to college presidents and other policymakers. --mw

Vol. 08, Issue 05

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