IN Brief

State begins research into factors impacting college enrollment

By: - January 22, 2024 11:16 am

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education will research why kids aren't going to college. (Niki Kelly/Indiana Capital Chronicle)

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education on Monday announced it will begin research into the factors impacting college enrollment in Indiana.

The agency is using a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to select consulting firm Heart+Mind Strategies to lead the six-month research endeavor.

Increasing college enrollment is a key pillar of the Commission’s HOPE (Hoosier Opportunities & Possibilities through Education) Agenda. Indiana currently ranks 31st in the nation in the college-going rate for high school students and 21st in the nation in first-time undergraduate enrollment for adults. The commission wants Indiana to become a top 10 state in post-high school training and education by 2030.

The commission said it would incorporate input from a range of stakeholders, like high school students, young adult students, adult students, the general public, parents and family members, high school teachers, school counselors, additional school personnel, Indiana employers, youth-serving community- and faith-based organizations and representatives from Indiana’s higher education institutions.

“Whether it’s a certificate, two- or four-year degree, education and training beyond high school is the cornerstone to social and economic mobility and prosperity of all Hoosiers,” said Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Chris Lowery. “Thanks to generous funding from the Lilly Endowment, the Commission can meet Hoosiers where they are, understand the barriers to college enrollment, and inform potential solutions. I look forward to the professional insight and leadership of Heart+Mind Strategies in this work.”

The research will include one-on-one in-depth interviews, focus groups, and a survey. Findings from the research will complement and inform the development of the Commission’s strategic objectives and initiatives around policy, communications, 2025 legislative priorities, and resource allocation.

Heart+Mind Strategies was founded in 2008. It has previously conducted research on behalf of Strada Education Network, Pearson and Western Governors University.

The research is scheduled to conclude at the end of June 2024. A full report of findings will be published.


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Niki Kelly
Niki Kelly

Niki has covered the Indiana Statehouse since 1999 – including five governors. She has been honored by the Society of Professional Journalists and Hoosier State Press Association for stories on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, criminal justice issues and more. She also is a regular on Indiana Week in Review, a weekly public television rundown of news. She shifts her career to helm a staff of three and ensure Hoosiers know what’s really happening on the state level.