The Historic Strain on Colleges
College is one of the greatest determining factors of success in the modern world, yet still, for more and more people every year, it’s just not worth the investment. Undergraduate enrollment fell by over 7% from 2019 to 2021, a historic decrease. What’s causing this dramatic shift in college enrollment?
The answer is naturally complex, but with a focus on two prominent factors. Colleges are costing more and returning less. The cost of a college degree has been rising far beyond the normal scale of inflation, or any other relevant economic variable. This would be fine if the degree was worth as much as its cost, but it’s not. 73% of graduates have a degree unrelated to their major.
This means that less people are going to college, and those that do may not even end up in the field of their choice, let alone making the amount of money they’d like. It’s forces like these that are putting a strain on universities and forcing them to spread finances thinner and take in weaker applicants. Still, there is one exception to almost all of these factors, prestigious schools. Ivy league and comparable universities have all retained the value of their degrees and managed to even up their enrollment rates.
This makes the prestige of the school an even more important factor year over year. This is unfortunate when considering the types of schools on the brink of closing were never even close to Ivy leagues in the first place. While they may be thriving, it’s yet to be seen exactly what will happen to the rest of the world’s colleges as they become less and less appealing year after year.