The Economy Is Improving, But College Enrollment Is Declining
The college enrollment boom that caused tuition prices to skyrocket is finally over, The New York Times reports.
According to the Times, college enrollment fell 2% in 2012-2013, the first real decline since the 1990s. Though that drop mostly affected for-profit and community colleges, signs are now pointing to 2013-2014 as the year when traditional four-year, non-profit schools face a serious decline in applications that could last for several years.
The colleges that will most likely be hit the hardest are those not among the wealthiest or most prestigious, but those whose very survival depends on tuition revenue.
“There are many institutions that are on the margin, economically, and are very concerned about keeping their doors open if they can’t hit their enrollment numbers,” said David A. Hawkins, the director of public policy and research at the National Association for College Admission Counseling.
This will ultimately result in mid-tier institutions accepting more, formerly-unqualified applicants.
Aside from the burdens of tuition increases and student debt, another aspect of college currently coming under scrutiny is just how necessary the whole experience of attending a four-year school is.
It is most definitely becoming less and less taboo to forgo or drop out of college in exchange for starting one’s own business or gaining valuable work experience instead, thanks to the many publicized success stories of people who chose these formerly denounced paths.
The Times reports that the most shocking signs of the enrollment drop came from Loyola University New Orleans and St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
“After the usual May 1 deadline for applicants to choose a college, Loyola and St. Mary’s each found that their admission offers had been accepted by about one-third fewer students than expected. Both institutions were forced to make millions of dollars in budget cuts and a late push for more enrollment.”
Loyola reportedly went into a wild panic when the university discovered such a decrease in accepted admission offers. Administrators and professors who aren’t usually involved in the admission process made a series of calls to accepted students who decided to go somewhere else to try to convince them to change their minds with certain methods of persuasion.
“We did invite them to see if there was more we could do with aid,” said Roberta Kaskel, the interim vice president for enrollment management at Loyola.
Several college consultants and advisors hired by wealthy families to assist with the application process told the Times that this spring and summer, they have seen a huge increase in colleges actively seeking out students, some of which have turned the school down or never even applied.
“After May 1, I got e-mails from three or four colleges saying, ‘We’ve still got spots, and we’re looking for people to fill them,’ and I don’t remember getting any in the past,” said Lisa Bleich, an admissions consultant in Westfield, N.J.
“I had a client who had committed to one school, and then changed her mind and said she wanted to go to the University of Pittsburgh, where she had also been accepted,” she said. “They weren’t actively looking for more, but they agreed to take her, when a few years ago, they would have said, ‘No, we don’t have any space.’ ”
Don McMillan, an admissions consultant in Boston, told the Times that his office received numerous calls this week from families in foreign countries trying to place their children in schools that begin their fall semesters in just over a month.
“We called about 15 colleges, and we found that about half still had openings for this fall and were willing to consider them, which really surprised me,” he said. “These are not Tufts, M.I.T., Harvard, schools like that, that will never have trouble filling up.”
The recession’s effect on the job market triggered the initial enrollment boom in 2007. But job prospects have greatly improved as has the success rate of startup businesses, ultimately making college a less attractive option.
The roles have been reversed. Now, instead of young adults being at the mercy of their colleges’ demands, colleges are at the mercy of the ideals of their prospective students.
Via: NY Times, Photo Courtesy: Tumblr