Posted by: crudbasher | April 4, 2014

Falling Enrollments Are Only The Beginning

I’ve been predicting this for a while now.

H/T The American Interest

Even with tuition rates soaring, many colleges are still searching under the proverbial sofa cushions to paper over gaps in their operating budgets. As the Chronicle of Higher Education reports, some are downsizing staff, while others are slashing athletic programs and even selling off buildings. Over the past six months alone, ten schools have cut hundreds of positions, and it appears likely that more schools will follow their footsteps as the year progresses.

It’s going to get worse. Think about it. Enrollments have been dropping despite the following:

  1. an unprecedented building campaign to improve campuses
  2. unprecedented marketing tools
  3. Huge investments in technology
  4. Unprecedented sums of money available for federal student loans.

Against this is the following:

  1. The size of the college age population has begun to taper.
  2. The price of college has skyrocketed (+ 100% over the last 10 years.)
  3. Getting a degree is not a sure bet at a good career anymore.

So what is going to happen when colleges have to cut back on their facilities and technology improvements? The only thing that will get students back to college is to make it much cheaper and to unbundle it from degrees. Make it cheap and ala carte and people will come back. Students are not as willing to take the gamble to take on massive debt to have a better life.

Colleges and universities are governed by economics just like everything else. It’s about time they started to act like it.

See more: Are Universities Too Big To Fail?


  1. One thing you did not mention was the changing criteria for enrollment. I believe the admissions bar has changed dramatically. Why else do we have remedial classes at universities? These never used to exist. If you did not qualify you were not a candidate, simple as that.

    When our public school systems finally change, then our universities will as well. A fundamental shift needs to occur at this level. Hopefully one that takes the individual into account and not their birthdate. When students can work at their own pace, find their strengths and passions, and take what path suits them, then students can decide if a college education would be applicable to them personally and not attend just because our system directs them there.

    • You are exactly right Darleen. College is not for everyone but you can also say it’s not for everyone in the same way at the same age. Flexibility will be key and yet can the rigid structures of the university system adapt that method? Time will tell.

      Thanks so much for that excellent comment!!

  2. We may be seeing the rise of the Community College, with affordable programs that lead to jobs instead of degrees.

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