The Ivy Coach Daily

January 16, 2022

College Enrollment Patterns

While applications have been declining to most American universities, they’ve been surging at our nation’s top universities (photo credit: Namkota).

One of the key objectives of this college admissions blog is to debunk misconceptions about the highly selective college admissions process, to speak truth to power, and to make the entire process less stressful for parents and students navigating its churning waters. Today, we’d like to focus our attention on an article published in Forbes by Michael T. Nietzel entitled “These Four States Account For Half Of The Recent College Enrollment Decline.” The parents and students who read our college admissions blog are likely scratching their heads after clocking this title. A recent college enrollment decline? That flies in the face of the surging application numbers over the last couple of years and the diminishing admission rates at our nation’s elite universities. But, remember, elite universities across America are often the exception to the rule, not the rule. So is college enrollment actually declining at America’s less selective universities and, if so, what states are responsible for this trend?

As Michael T. Nietzel writes, “Just four states – California, New York, Ohio, and Texas – account for 50% of the national decrease in college enrollment between fall, 2019 and fall, 2021, a two-year period that dates back to the approximate onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. During this period, undergraduate enrollment decreased by 1,025,600 students and overall enrollment – counting both undergraduate and graduate students – dropped by 5.1% or 937,500 students since fall, 2019. The figures come from a new report released last week by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSCRC), which gathers data from more than 3,600 institutions, representing 97% of the nation’s postsecondary enrollment in Title IV degree-granting institutions in the U.S., as of 2018.”

Apparently, California lost 247,132 college enrollees over this two year period, while New York lost 94,932, Ohio lost 64,288, and Texas lost 62,722. So these four states by themselves account for about half of the declining enrollment over the last two years across the nation. Washington, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Illinois, New Jersey, and Massachusetts round out the top ten among states that most have most significantly contributed to the pattern. Yet four states actually saw college enrollment increases: New Hampshire, Utah, Arizona, and Nebraska.

Does any of this data surprise our readers? Does it surprise our readers that overall college enrollment is declining while applications surge to our nation’s elite universities? Let us know your thoughts on the matter by posting a comment below. We look forward to hearing from you.

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