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  • Writer's pictureBeth & Tim Manners

Puzzler: Admit & Enrollment Both Shrink

CBS News: "The number of enrolled college students slipped 1.3% this fall compared with a year earlier, representing a loss of 231,000 students, according to a survey from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, a nonprofit educational research group. For the first time in a decade, the number of college students slipped below 18 million, dipping to 17.9 million students, it said. It may appear like a contradiction to find lower acceptance rates at many colleges given a shrinking pool of potential customers."

"Yet Ivy League colleges and other top universities are aggressively marketing themselves to both national and international top students, creating an increasingly competitive admissions process. And the cachet of receiving a degree from an Ivy League school also comes with bigger lifetime earnings, sparking more competition for those few coveted spots. Less prestigious institutions, on the other hand, are sometimes struggling to attract qualified students, leading to college closures such as Green Mountain College in Vermont. In fact, about 25% of U.S. colleges will likely fail in the next two decades, Michael Horn, who studies education at Harvard University, told CBS News earlier this year."

"So what accounts for lower college enrollment? Demographic changes. The number of high school graduates is stagnating, with overall graduation rates expected to drop in the next decade, according to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. The rising cost of college. The price for a private, four-year college is about $41,000 per year, or about double the cost in the mid-1980s, according to the U.S. Department of Education. That's far outpaced typical household income growth. A growing economy. Some high school students may be deferring or opting against college due to the low unemployment rate and the availability of jobs."

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