Some colleges are feeling the pressure from the recession, too. The New York Times ran an article the other day talking about how private colleges are beginning to show some concern over their projected enrollments for the coming year. In fact, while early admission enrollments are dramatically up from previous years, regular admission applications are much further down than previous years.
Admissions officers nationwide point to several possible reasons for the drop in applications. Some students have pared their college lists this year. Many more are looking at less-expensive state universities. Many institutions accepted more students under binding early-decision programs, and each such acceptance drains off an average of 8 to 10 regular-decision applications. And some experts suspect that students are delaying their college plans.
I hope that the last sentence here is somewhat correct. I wrote last April about an article talking about how more students are deciding to take time off in-between high school and college. The suggestion above by the New York Times might be the proof to the previous article.
Many students would be much better served by taking this time off and getting an internship or an entry-level job somewhere. So long as high school graduates do not begin to get themselves into a mountain of debt, the option to apply to college and begin a more rigorous study is always available. Now, of course it would not be a good idea to prolong the college activities for too long. But if high school graduates are beginning to think about alternatives to the quick entrance into college, then I think that can only be a good thing.
Besides giving the students a bit more of a real world view on issues (which is often lacking in the academy), the decline in students who immediately enter college could put colleges in a new position where they have to prove the value of their education. In other words, colleges might be put in a position to have to show how each dollar spent by a student (or his/her family) can translate into real dollars earned post-graduation.
Some forward-thinking departments at the local college are already putting these facts out there – or at least trying to generate the right numbers to put out to the public. Talk about a powerful piece of information for the college applicant. Imagine being able to look at a variety of business schools and choose from the ones that have a proven track record of creating the highest paid executives? There’s some education reform that everyone can believe in…