The 2019-2020 school year saw 53 colleges close indefinitely, a trend that is becoming more and more prevalent due to falling enrollment rates. This year has already seen more than 1 million fewer students enrolled in college compared to the years before the pandemic. What is causing this decrease in college enrollment?
Reasons such as the rising cost of college tuition, less relevance between college major and future jobs, fewer available candidates, and overall decrease in high schoolers’ interest in college help with understanding current college enrollment issues. Pandemic-related financial troubles also explain why some students are choosing to drop out or unenroll and instead find full-time jobs or other alternatives to education. High schoolers are more likely now to choose colleges that are less expensive, even if it means switching plans from going to a private college to either a public or community one. In fact, community college enrollment increased by 36% in recent years—an 8% jump compared to pre-pandemic rates.
Between 2019 and 2021, community colleges saw enrollment fall while highly selective schools experienced an increase in enrollments that brought them back to pre-pandemic enrollment levels. Schools with less student capacity als struggled the most with student enrollment rates. 419 colleges in 2019 were actually still accepting applications after the usual May 1st cut-off due to declining enrollments causing more competition between schools for students.
More selective schools like Ivy Leagues are able to do better in terms of enrollment rates compared to other colleges due to their degrees being considered of better value than others. Highly selective schools also usually have large endowments from donations that allow them to offer beneficial financial aid packages to students. The endowments are usually designed to create a safe pool of investments without a lot of risk.
With college being a big commitment for many, it’s beneficial to determine the financial health of your chosen college before you officially enroll. Looking through endowment reports and news reports can provide you with the necessary information to make your decision. It’s a great idea to also know beforehand whether your college signs transfer agreements with nearby universities when they close in order to allow students to finish their degrees. Knowing the local resources you can reach out to in order to gain professional advice about next steps can be beneficial as well.
Are current college closures affecting your college plans?