October 27, 2021

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: College Enrollments Continue to Drop, Two Years Into The Pandemic.

The post-pandemic enrollment rebound everyone wished for has not come to pass.

College and university enrollments are still on the decline for most institutions, early data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center show. Undergraduate enrollment across the board fell by 3.2 percent this fall, echoing last fall’s 3.4 percent decline. Since fall 2019, undergraduate enrollments have dropped by 6.5 percent.

The top-line findings paint a bleak picture for higher education’s recovery.

“We’ve really not seen declines across the board like this,” said Doug Shapiro, vice president of research and executive director of the research center.

Students still have not returned to college at the rate they left, and it will likely take years of work to bring them back into the fold, Shapiro fears.

“A lot of those freshmen who didn’t show up last year — they haven’t come back yet,” Shapiro said. “The longer students are away from school, the harder and harder it becomes for them to come back. It may well be that a majority of them might not ever make it back, and that’s very much a concern.”

Some of them will do fine in the trades. Others won’t do as well, but at least won’t carry college debt.

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