Understanding the Needs of Today’s Postsecondary Students


While postsecondary education has been an important component of society since The Great Society in the 1960s, today’s students experience postsecondary education differently than previous generations. While more students are attending college, the cost of tuition, fees, and other auxiliary costs like textbooks has risen tremendously. Recent data shows that the “traditional” 4-year experience is rare for most postsecondary students, and technology has changed how and where students can access education. By better understanding who the students of today are and what issues they face, we can create a postsecondary education system that supports all those who want to enroll.



Creating a better understanding of postsecondary students in Rhode Island and what challenges they face.

This topic will highlight recent trends regarding the students enrolled in postsecondary education. Approximately 25% of students who enroll in postsecondary education across the US are ages 18-24 and directly enroll after high school graduation, despite the perception that this percentage is higher. In reality, most postsecondary students are age 25 and older and are parents, employees, and students who had been enrolled previously but paused their education or transferred schools. Discussions will center around how the population of postsecondary students has changed, the variety of options outside of college that students have access to, and how Rhode Island can better support all students.


Supporting student persistence through wraparound student services.

Wraparound student services include tutoring, counseling, childcare, transportation, and other non-instructional services that help students complete their credentials. This topic will center around supporting students, particularly those most vulnerable in excelling once they are enrolled in college. This includes highlighting how support at the institution level is essential for the persistence of students and how these services might be funded.


Jimmieka Mills

Jimmieka Mills is a strategic consultant, journalist, public speaker, and activist. Raised in Oakland, California, Mills experienced first-hand the effects of poverty and since 2016 has used her voice and her pen to bring awareness to the barriers faced by the most marginalized among our society. Mills has worked as a consultant for Lumina Foundation, Hope Center for College Community and Justice, and Young Invincibles, to name a few. Her work focuses on elevating individuals and communities experiencing homelessness as well as housing and food insecurity, many of which are college student populations. Mills sits on both the board of directors of the Faculty and Students Together Fund, the advisory board for the Hope Center for College Community and Justice, and serves as a frequent peer reviewer of research focused on issues faced by impoverished communities.