Colleges and universities across the U.S. continue to face enrollment challenges and saw a 1.1 percent drop in new students this fall compared to last year. 

The National Student Clearinghouse, a nonprofit organization, issued a report last week that said enrollment across the U.S. is down 6.5 percent since the start of the COVID outbreak, meaning there’s about 1 million fewer people enrolled in college today than before the outbreak. 

The latest number, although still a decline, was not considered disastrous because the decline seems to be slowing. In 2020, there was a 3.4 percent drop and in 2021, there was a 2.1 percent decline. 

Doug Shapiro, the head of research at the organization, said the latest numbers are certainly not a recovery. 

“We’re seeing smaller declines,” he said, according to NPR. “But when you’re in a deep hole, the fact that you’re only digging a tiny bit further is not really good news.”

The most significant declines were at for-profit colleges, which saw a 2.5 percent decline in enrollment. Graduate school enrollment also declined by 1 percent compared to last year’s 2.7 percent gain.

TRENDPOST: The Trends Journal has been reporting extensively on the drop in college enrollment that picked up pace after the COVID-19 outbreak. (See “WHO NEEDS COLLEGE? UNIVERSITIES STRUGGLE WITH ENROLLMENT AFTER COVID LOCKDOWNS, AS WE FORECAST.”) 

Researchers said the trend had been headed downward before the COVID outbreak. They are trying to see what is causing the drop in some locations, while other regions have seen a stabilization and even modest increases. 

“There is no singular reason for the decrease, [but] it appears that the pandemic and economic conditions are affecting our enrollment,” Mary Hester-Clifton, director of communications and institutional advancement, told an Arkansas paper. 

TRENDPOST: We reported in our 7 December 2021 issue that college has become a gamble for many young Americans who want to start their careers without being saddled with debt for years after graduation. (See “GO TO COLLEGE, GO BROKE.”)

We noted in the issue that the cost of higher education was not always an issue in the U.S. Back in the 1970s, when Baby Boomers were flooding college campuses (especially among boys to get a draft deferment so they would not have to go fight the Vietnam War), tuition and fees cost $1,562, a year. And since 1990, the average tuition and fee rates have increased 130 percent after adjusting for inflation, according to the Education Data Initiative. 

We note this to emphasize not only how those among the top of the money class can afford an education in America … but how cost increases do not equate with added value. Indeed, dental, veterinarians and chiropractors are not being taught 130 percent more than students were in 1990. 

Yet, this hard fact is totally ignored. 

Indeed, while the cost of learning has skyrocketed, considering the socioeconomic decline of America, it costs much more to learn a lot less.

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