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Report shows college enrollments fell across country this fall


In September we learned that KU's fall enrollment had fallen for the fourth straight year, though its freshman class grew for the first time since the record-setting incoming class of 2008. Now some national numbers released this week provide a bit of context.

According to figures released Tuesday by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, college enrollments around the country fell by 1.8 percent this fall. Among four-year public schools, it fell by 0.6 percent (KU's fell by 2.7 percent).

Enrollment drops were especially steep for part-time students and students older than 24. Inside Higher Ed notes that enrollment numbers tend to go up when unemployment rises and go back down when it falls, so one might expect numbers to tumble from the heights they reached about four years ago. (KU's huge class of 2008 is a big reason its numbers continued to tumble this fall; 2011-12 was the senior year for that class, so many members graduated.)

This week's report also included national year-over-year enrollment changes from fall 2010 and 2011. KU's numbers in those years differ from the national trend in that they were solidly lower; but they're similar in that the general trend (at least with respect to the rate of change, not total numbers) was downward.

Year.........Four-year public schools............KU

2010........Up 1.6 percent ...........................Down 1.8 percent

2011........Up 1.4 percent ...........................Down 2.5 percent

2012........Down 0.6 percent.......................Down 2.7 percent

You can download a PDF of the national report if you're interested in more detailed figures.

KU is, of course, trying to reverse its enrollment slide with improved recruitment, new four-year scholarships, new programs for freshmen designed to increase retention and more. Provost Jeff Vitter said in September he hoped the number would come close to breaking even next fall, then begin to tick back up in 2014.


Steve Bunch 5 years, 6 months ago

It's doubtful that KU's enrollments will increase, now that it has eviscerated its online learning program. Instead of pulling enrollments from around the state, nation, and world, most of the online enrollments are currently enrolled students on campus.

thinkinganalytically 5 years, 6 months ago

I did not know that KU had an online learning program. How many student credit hours did it create?

SnakeFist 5 years, 6 months ago

"KU is, of course, trying to reverse its enrollment slide ..."

In other news, KU wants to have the strictest admissions standards in the state.

Right hand, meet left hand.

thinkinganalytically 5 years, 6 months ago

Actually that is sort of the way it works in higher education. If you have higher standards, the degree has higher value and more students are interested in obtaining it.

SnakeFist 5 years, 6 months ago

Its not that simple. Raising admissions standards is not the same as raising the perception of quality. More students may apply if they perceive KU as being higher quality than their other options, but, at the end of the day, KU will be chasing a much smaller pool of potential students, and will have to compete with an entirely different class of schools. Lastly, KU is located in Kansas, so now matter how high KU raises its standards, it still exists in a low-standard state that, for example, openly questions evolution.

You can have quantity or you can have quality, but you're unlikely to get a large quantity of quality students because they have many more options than a school in Kansas.

thinkinganalytically 5 years, 6 months ago

KU has to start somewhere if it is going to increase the perception of quality, and admission standards will help a great deal. Luckily the pricing policies of elite schools will also be a help with students from upper middle income households.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 6 months ago

4 year degrees do not guarantee job placement. 4 year degrees are encouraged in fact an asset
in the large scheme of things. However considering a VoTech experience as well might make a person more marketable.

Learning a trade/skill is also a valuable asset which provides more than one means to make money.

In the past 33 years republicans have effectively wiped out the economy and job markets twice. The industries and jobs lost never returned to the USA.

In a way pushing 4 year degrees as this magic bullet to success is truly kind of a fraud as opposed to real life. Until Supply Side Economics is wiped off the planet having more than one source of income is not a bad idea. Corporate USA does not offer job security as it once did. The leveraged buyout thugs can put an end to employment at the speed of light.

scarletbhound 5 years, 6 months ago

While I agree with merril's point on vo-tech ed, I don't accept his cheat shot at Republicans and loss of jobs. Remember, Clinton pushed NAFTA and other free-trade agreements. The loss of manufacturing/union jobs in this country has been a bipartisan effort. Both parties are contolled by the corporate oligarchy that runs this country.

jonas_opines 5 years, 6 months ago

"While I agree with merril's point on vo-tech ed, I don't accept his cheat shot at Republicans and loss of jobs."

Where would Merril be without cheap, biased and partisan shots on Republicans.

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