Enrollment Growth Through Increased Accessibility

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Dr. Perry LaRoque, Founder and President at Mansfield Hall and author of Taking Flight: The Guide to College for Diverse Learners and Non-Traditional Students, joins the podcast to discuss the demographic reality that, for many institutions, future enrollment growth necessitates increasing access for more types of students than we’ve historically taught.

There's a lot less in a student's way to be able to attend college at this point, and so we're going to start seeing more and more students who are showing up on day one with documented disabilities that may have been wrongfully weeded out in the past. You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect ETU podcast network. I'm Eric Olson with Helix Education and we're here today with Dr Perry LEARROC, author and Founder and Presidents of Mansfield Hall. Perry, welcome to the show. Thanks so much for having me, Eric. Really excited to talk to you to day about finding enrollment growth through increased accessibility. But before we dig into that, can you give the listeners a little background...

...on both yourself and Mansfield Hall? Yeah, absolutely. Well, I started off in this special education field as a teacher. Come from a long line of educators returned to do my doctorate in special education at the University of Wisconsin, served as a professor for seven years, both at the assistant and associate level, and then really saw this need for more college supports and so I founded Mansfield Hall about nine years ago and started in Burlington, Vermont. It's now expanded to Madison, Wisconsin and Eugene, Oregon, and it's a residential college support program. We primarily work with students on the autism spectrum, but we do work with a, you know, wide variety of students with different learning differences. Love the work so excited for your growth over the last few years. Maybe to kick off this conversation, can you first start by reminding us how much of higher eds growth over the last twenty years has been because demographics were so strongly in our favor and that time? Yeah, I mean...

I think that, quite frankly, that big college boon was a few different factors actually, and I think that there's been much more of a push for that as a pathway for career development, whereas we didn't see that quite as much prior to that. But I also think that schools over the past twenty years, certainly when I was teaching at the high school level and then training specially educators, you know, with the concept of selfdetermination and broader focus on student learning. I think we're just, quite frankly, preparing a lot more students for college than we were in the past. So, with those changes and potentially this enrollment cliff coming, demographic is no longer being in our favor. How we want to talk about that? Does growth moving forward necessitate that we increase access to the types of students that we've historically taught? Yeah, it's a good question. You know, I'll give you a slightly modified answer. I think that addressing this diverse population of students leaving high school is important, regardless of whether we're facing in a Roman cliff or not. I think...

...that we have just a lot of really capable students who are graduating high school and looking for, you know, post secondary opportunities. And you certainly, with factors such as sat and acts becoming less popular, some colleges outright getting rid of them. If you look at the the enrollment process for students, there's a lot less in a student's way to be able to attend college at this point, and so we're going to start seeing more and more students who are showing up on day one with documented disabilities that may have been wrongfully weeded out in the past, and so let's Le Let's imagine that these new students showing up on day one. How prepared are most of our institutions today to serve a more diverse student base, including students with learning disabilities, varies greatly. I'm going to over the past, you know, ten years, the growth in programs for students with disabilities across the country have it's been exponential, which has been phenomenal. I mean when Mansfield Hall first started we were one...

...of the select few programs sort of in this area, and now what we're seeing is a lot more college is sort of double downing, double down on those services, which I think it's fantastic. I'm not sure the quality is always there across the board and I think sometimes become more specialty oriented programs, like we have a program for students with autism, versus we have taken a look at how our campus can serve this diverse population of students more effectively as a whole. Right. You know, it's almost mirroring the start of special education, you know, back in the S, where we thought of it, as you know, a setting, a different classroom. So we're going to serve our students over here and provide this programming. And with the mainstream inclusion movement in the S, we started to see special education as set of services and students are, you know, much more heavily mainstreamed across classrooms. Now I think the same approach is, you know, sort of happening right now in colleges, where we're starting to do some separate but equal programming,...

...which ends up limiting students exposure today campus and opportunities on the campus. It's encouraging to hear about the increased support that you've been seeing. Let's talk about the difference in support for the students moving from the K twelve world to college. From a student who potentially has an IEP in the support of this broad team throughout their k told experience too, perhaps showing up on day one, like you mentioned, and having to more advocate for themselves. Yeah, I mean this is, you know, in the book that I wrote, taking flight, the guide to college for divers learners and non traditional students. I mean that really is the whole objective of the book, is to sort of say to those students directly. Hey, no one's going to be doing this for you, you've got to do it for yourself and make sure that they're advocating for themselves understanding the systems of college, and I think that that's really, you know, extremely important. On the flip side of that, we have to understand that these students in their see senior year, if they had an IEP, they had a team of people that met by law and force...

...them to come to those meetings and forced services upon them in many ways and chucked in on them and monitor their progress and reported on that progress. When they show up to day one in college they get a disability services center, which is Great. We all are aware of the size of those case loads and just the amount of support just drops off exponentially, and so I think it's so important for college to recognize just the difference between what that senior in high school was experiencing in terms of supports and services and then what they're required to do. I mean, there's just going to be a transition there that they're not going to necessarily be prepared for, regardless of them reading my book or having a great coach on hand. And so college is need to address how much more they might need. You mentioned the supports improvements that you've seen in the last few years. Maybe map out a future hople glimpse for us, for that student who shows up on day one, where you hopeful for...

...that that experience looks like in that university who takes this audience really, really seriously? Maybe in five years, what is that university look like? Yeah, well, you know, I've done some consulting with colleges and the one thing I've said is that all of your supports and services on campus are phenomenal. They're all great. What needs to happen is they need to be connected, and so when a student walks out the door at the counseling services depressed, that they make a call to the writing center to say, Hey, this person is going to need some help on this paper and then make a call to their disability services coordinator and there's you know, there's a team and there's communication amongst them, and so right off the Bat I think that that's fundamentally important. You know, access to college coaching right now, I think that's an area of discrimination. Students with disabilities who could really use that executive functioning support are needing to pay for that and that can be upwards of hundred dollars an hour and, quite frankly, someone just checking in on that student and helping them map out their week and helping them plan for how to write...

...those papers or study for those exams is actually what they need. They don't need tutoring necessarily, they need to support on how to accomplish the work. I think executive functioning skills goes across all of the different disability categories for the most part, and so what can colleges do to address that gap and executive functioning for students with disabilities and how can we create that team for them and advocate on behalf of those students? Again, I think Eric United, you know, exchange some comments on this, but I think that when we look at this increasing number of students with disabilities come in to campus and with every campus, you know, focusing on this retention issue, I think this is the group that we're trying to retain and I think that getting ahead of them and helping them figure out how to do college is fundamentally important for their success. Parry, such great and great thoughts and great work you're doing for the institutions who are listening, nodding their head to this, looking internally and going who? I don't I'm not sure that we're up to part yet. Next Steps. Advice for them? Looking for institutions who are looking to better support...

...their increasingly diverse student base. Yeah, I mean from the college level, as a former professor, to get get a team together right off the bat, you know, and the start to evaluate the services you already have on campus and how can they work better for a student with the disability. This doesn't take millions of dollars to start a brand new center for autism or for learning disabilities. It just starts with what are we going to do when someone arrives and how can we help them access all of the supports we already have on campus and identify them and support them through that. And I also think that colleges could check out the college autism network. This was founded by Brad Cocks and Lee Williams and what they've done is a great job connecting programs that are serving students with learning differences across the country and they have a wonderful program called canvass and they should check that out. It's a it's a network. It's the college autism network, virtual scholars and so it's a network of people getting together and talking about what can be done to campus and sharing resources.

Certainly they can reach out to some of the programs like Mansfield Hall, who are working closely with colleges on these topics and kind of talk about it. And I do want to also just mention one thing. This can't be done without considering residential that doesn't mean the college needs to provide residential but college needs to consider how their residential programming impacts of students with the disabilities impact on attending campus and so also thinking about how this can be done on a campus, you know, for a traditional student who has a non traditional way of learning. Perry, thank you so much for your time today. What's the best place for listeners to reach out? If they have any follow up questions, they can go to my website, Perry Le Rockcom. That's La Roquem also check out Mansfield Hall Dot Org. You can also contact us and reach us there. You know, on my website I've got podcasts and have talked with people like temple grand in and share some blogs and some resources. But happy to always collaborate and work with folks and really help pave the way for these students who really want to just have the opportunity to give back to the world...

...in a meaningful way. Awesome, Perry. Thanks so much for joining us today. Yeah, thank you so much, Eric. It's been great. Attracting today's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges. Downloaded today for free at Helix Educationcom. Playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show and Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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