College Enrollment Statistics in Decline

college enrollment in declineDid you know that college enrollment is going down?

A growing number of high school graduates are choosing not to go to college, with many opting to join the workforce or enroll in trade programs instead. They are finding out that college is NOT the only route to a good job, financial stability, and a happy life. In fact, there are plenty of high-paying careers that don’t require a degree.

Many young people have been deterred by college tuition rates and the prospect of student debt. Who could blame them? The cost of college is through the roof and a four-year degree saddles a student with massive debt and no guarantee of a job.

Not only that, but believe it or not, many colleges still have ridiculous COVID rules in place. Many students who finished high school during the pandemic skipped college. And, it appears those who passed on college during the pandemic have opted out for good. Predictions that they would enroll after a year or two didn’t come to pass.

The pandemic also threw millions of existing students into online classes, and some of them seem to like it there. A recent survey found a small but noteworthy increase in the number of high school juniors and seniors aiming for a fully online degree.

Stats Don’t Lie

In 2018, approximately 19.6 million students were enrolled in colleges throughout the U.S. Nationwide, undergraduate college enrollment dropped 8% from 2019 to 2022, according to data from the National Student Clearinghouse. That slide in the college-going rate is the steepest on record, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The total number of enrolled students further decreased to 18.2 million in 2023. Source: This is evidence that students have changed their opinions on higher learning and the necessity for a college degree.

The public four-year sector has experienced the largest declines, while private for-profit four-year institutions have actually added 29,000 students. Enrollment at community colleges colleges also went up slightly. You can find more college enrollment statistics based solely on 2023 data here.

What Does it Mean?

Economists say the impact on colleges could be dire. For one thing, it will mean jettisoning “unprofitable” majors that used to be sheltered inside universities with more than enough students.

For the rest of us, this is good news since mainstream colleges and universities have become little more than over-priced political left-wing indoctrination centers. The country will be better off if less young people are enrolled in such classes.

Among the small number of elite Ivy League colleges and highly selective research universities — think the Princetons and the Penn States — the drop will be no big deal. These institutions have their pick of applicants and can easily keep classes full.

However, the empty factories and abandoned shopping malls littering the American landscape may soon be joined by ghost colleges, victims of a changing demographic.

At colleges that survive, the administrators will be hustling to give potential students a good reason to turn down that $22-per-hour warehouse job. You may see colleges offering incentives to attract and retain more students, not unlike the sign-on bonuses some companies offer to new hires. Lower tuition rates would be a great start!

Admittedly, a college degree is necessary for certain career paths. But if you’re open to thinking outside the box, you can explore some alternatives to college.

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