Two Charts Showing Additional Enrollment Pressures
Particularly for entry-level positions and community colleges, the challenges are bigger than reported
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In a recent post on why enrollments and revenue are combined as the primary concern for institutions - much more so this year than in 2022 - I initially pointed out the new reality. [Full-page audio link]
In a subsequent post I shared some additional news stories showing the trend and discussed the positioning of generative AI as an existential issue.
Today I’d like to share two additional charts that will hopefully clarify what we are facing.
Organic Enrollments Over Time
The initial post described dual enrollment, and yesterday The Hechinger Report published a useful article describing the trend.
The article also discusses our topic, which gets to the finances of institutions, where dual enrollments are different and difficult (but not impossible) to make profitable.
My initial point was that dual enrollment was a “pull forward” effect that hid future enrollment trends. Put these issues together, and it would be useful to see what organic enrollments trends look like, meaning for true postsecondary students - removing the impact of dual enrollment.
It is useful to combine this with adjustments removing the impact of sector changes, where community colleges offer a small amount of bachelors degrees and artificially change sectors.
The following chart shows the IPEDS fall enrollment changes since 2012 with and without the inclusion of dual enrollment students (by using a CCRC study linked in the Hechinger Report article). I am showing this for the Public 4-year and Public 2-year sectors, as these are the two where dual enrollment has a material impact.
If you take out dual enrollment students to view organic enrollment, then the adjusted public 4-year sector moves from a 0.7% enrollment decline from 2012 - 2021 to a 2.6% decline. The adjusted public 2-year sector has a much bigger change, moving from a 21.9% decline from 2012 - 2021 to a 31.6% decline. The total impact is that roughly there are roughly half a million more dual enrollment students in 2021 than in 2012.
I am not arguing that we should not support dual enrollment students, but I am arguing that this is a different category that is masking the organic enrollment impacts, and that this can help explain the increase in enrollments and revenue at the institution and system level as the primary concern this year.
Degree Requirements for Entry-Level Jobs
Cengage publishes an annual Graduate Employability Report, and the June 2023 version shows some remarkable changes in just the past year for degree requirements. When asked whether a company requires a degree for all entry-level positions, the response changed from 62% to 50% in just one year. The top three industries driving this change are Healthcare (down 44%), Manufacturing (down 45%), and Technology (down 47%).
A reader sent me a note after the second post calling out the impact with state governments.
The demand for graduates with degrees is changing, with fewer requirements, particularly for entry-level jobs. This is not all bad news from the perspective of willingness to look more deeply at skills instead of just degrees, but from the institutional financial perspective, this is another factor pushing enrollments and revenue concerns as the top issue.
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