Thursday, August 28, 2008

State of U.S. Economy Boosts Enrollment

When the economy experiences a serious downturn, most companies experience changes in the way their business operates. This also holds true for the nations colleges, universities, community colleges and trade schools Many people are opting out of the workplace to go back to school while many high school students are choosing to enroll in their local community college rather than enter the workforce immediately, hoping that better training and an improving economy will help their prospects down the road.

From Indiana to Arizona, enrollment is up, especially at 2-year institutions. This does not come as a surprise to many analysts, who notice this dynamic often occurs when unemployment numbers are on the rise. A few examples of this include Frederick Community College in Maryland, which is expected to have an 8% - 10% rise in enrollment this year. Ivy Technical College in Indiana is seeing an enrollment increase 10.3% in the 2007-2008 academic year. Analysts expect these trends to continue in the near term.

Many wonder how the states are going to be able to cover the financial burdens. Governor Kaine of Virginia warned that the state budget would be slashed this October in areas that are traditionally considered off limits, according to Zinie Sampson of the Associated Press. Thirty or more states have fiscal deficits. Moreover, 60 percent of the funding for community colleges comes from the state legislature. While this may not be an immediate issue, Norma Kent of the American Association of Community Colleges warns that “it’s a perfect storm” that is looming over the coming months.

In addition to community colleges, online courses are also filling up quickly. The popularity of these online courses is causing schools such as Drexel University and the University of Houston to consider expanding their offerings. Drexel has reported an 86% increase in applications for its online courses from January through June, according to an article published by Reuters earlier this month. Education experts speculate that this trend is because of the higher transportation costs as well as other economic factors.

While these increasing enrollment numbers for lower cost schools are significant, statistics indicate that it is not at the expense of private schools, which typically have much higher costs. At all levels of the higher education spectrum, enrollment is increasing as students try to make the most of tough times, while preparing themselves for right opportunity when conditions improve.

No comments: