The decline in overall college enrollment has slowed this spring, according to new data the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center released today. And some details are emerging about the groups of students who are less likely to attend college in declining sectors.InsideHigher Ed reports that ‘Overall enrollment this spring is down 0.8 percent compared to a year ago. That slide follows two years of previous declines the clearinghouse identified. The loss of students peaked last spring with a 2.3 percent decrease.
“The clearinghouse data cover 96 percent of all enrollments in the United States. The nonprofit group conducts student verification and research services for colleges, which turn over their data voluntarily. The clearinghouse publishes national enrollment estimates every six months, breaking out numbers by sectors and states, as well as on students’ age groups, gender and part- or full-time status.
“With estimates from the current term, the clearinghouse gives a more timely view of enrollments than the U.S. Department of Education can with its data. However, the clearinghouse does not publicly release figures about individual institutions.
The overall trends in the latest report aren’t surprising. More students attend college during a recession, and an enrollment boom typically tapers off as the economy begins to rebound. Eventually enrollments stabilize and begin to climb again at a steadier rate.
This spring private, nonprofit colleges saw the biggest increase, with a 2 percent gain. At a time when some enrollment-driven private colleges have been struggling and many others fretting, those numbers may come as welcome news.
“Public four-year institutions were up 0.7 percent.
Community colleges and for-profits both saw continued declines, but less than in previous reports from the clearinghouse.The economy is a likely suspect in the 2.7 percent enrollment dip at community colleges, experts said. The new numbers back that theory, in part because adult students accounted for most of the decline at two-year colleges.College students who are 24 years old or younger are less likely to have been drawn away from their studies and back to the work force. Enrollment for this group was down only slightly (0.5 percent) at community colleges. But for the over-24 age group, enrollment shrank by 6 percent.That trend was reversed at for-profits. In recent years the institutions in the sector have been hit hard by regulatory scrutiny and bad publicity, as well as by having a harder time selling their relatively high tuition levels to prospective students. Those pressures contributed to an almost 10 percent enrollment decline at four-year degree-offering for-profits last fall (compared to the previous fall) and a 5 percent dip this spring.Traditional-aged students in particular appear to be steering clear of bachelor’s degree programs at for-profits. This group was down 5.8 percent, compared to a 4.7 percent decline among adult students.”
Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/05/15/new-data-show-slowing-national-enrollment-decline#ixzz31v04IPD7