Universities See 1 Million Student Decline Since Start of Pandemic in US
Higher education enrollment in the United States fell a further 2.7% in 2021, according to new estimates by The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. This follows a 2.5% drop from the preceding fall. In total, 938,000 fewer students have enrolled in colleges since the fall of 2019, before the pandemic, the center estimates.
Private for-profit four-year colleges saw the biggest drop, with 11% less students enrolling in 2021. Followed by community colleges (-3.4%) and public four-year colleges (-3.8%). Private nonprofit colleges were least impacted, with a 1.5% decrease.
The trend in college enrollment indicates more are inclined to join the labor market directly — taking minimum-wage jobs in part because rates have risen under increasing pressure and a competitive job market. Even more are turning toward trade schools in lieu of traditional universities. This also comes at a time when universities are navigating the COVID-19 landscape, with many courses shifting toward remote instruction.