College Enrollment Decreases

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The demographic cliff predicted for the future Image: Education Advisory Board 

By Saanvi Sharma 

For most of us, from the day that we start preschool to the day we leave high school, the goal is college. We are told that’s how we’re going to sustain a stable income in the future, how we will support ourselves when we grow up. However, in the past 10 years the amount of people that enrolled in college has decreased by 1.5% each year. 

What are the causes for this decline? First of all, birth rates have been decreasing since 2007, which leaves less prospective college applicants in the present. The greatest decline in birth rate occurred from 2007-2009, so 17 years later, colleges face a decline in applicants. Still, the major reason seems to be financial. As I’m sure we all know, inflation has caused the cost of living to go up. People have been finding it hard to budget their expenses with loans, interest rates and even the rising costs of everyday items. With college already being something that’s extremely expensive, the thought of a loan now is worrying. The cost of college on average has increased a shocking 50% over the past 20 years. The COVID-19 pandemic also affected learning and the number of people who want to attend online classes, which left less people who enrolled into college as well. 

How will this situation affect you? Well, if you plan on going to college, expect to find a job that requires a degree with much more ease, as not many people will have these qualifications. This may cause easier employment for those with white collar jobs and more people in the blue-collar workforce. Experts predict it will be harder to find people to fill the jobs of the future, and many people will suffer economically. 

So, what other options do you have if you are one who feels college is not right for you? There are many more paths open because college is not the right fit for everyone. One could pursue an internship or apprenticeship to help equip you with skills to get you into a trade. You could begin working right after high school and earn pay all through the years in which you would have been going through school. Not a bad idea if you know college isn’t right for you. If this doesn’t seem promising, you could join the military after high school. This offers many more benefits apart from serving your country following retirement. Real estate is also a promising career that doesn’t require a 4 year college degree. Online college and community colleges are cheaper and local options for one who doesn’t want the load of a four year college degree as well. Starting a brand or business with social media is also something that is developing for the future.

Basically, college enrollment has been decreasing for various reasons and although many factors come into play, financial stress is the main reason why. Individuals are choosing more practical and cheaper pathways other than college. However, attending college and university is still worth the investment for many people.