27 January 2009

Demographer's Take on Higher Ed Enrollment

As numbers dominate the news today—in terms of the Recession with a capital R—some words from 6 months ago make good reading on the topic of higher education enrollment. Demographer Cheryl Russell's blog addressed enrollment in terms of a blink: by the middle class.

Russell referred to a "tipping point" that today's enrollment numbers back up. (My reference point is strictly anecdotal, relying on first-hand communications from a private university in the northeast and a public university in the south.) As families face lay-offs or simply fear of the future, college tuition has become part of the budget-slashing. Presumably, if enrollments were affected in winter, they will be even more affected in summer and fall.

Russell's analysis was based on mid-2008 statistics and pointed to the tuition increases of recent years as a key factor in enrollment shifts. She suggested that the middle class was already stepping away from the 4-year institution and turning to community colleges. As 2009 stats emerge, her predictions may well be confirmed.

© 2009 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

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