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College Enrollment for 1st-Year Students Has Plummeted Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

College Enrollment for 1st-Year Students Has Plummeted Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

“It’s completely unprecedented.”

Wouldn’t you put off going to college right now? The fun side of the experience is nearly gone.

NPR reports:

‘Losing A Generation’: Fall College Enrollment Plummets For 1st-Year Students

All throughout high school, Brian Williams planned to go to college. But as the pandemic eroded the final moments of his senior year, the Stafford, Texas, student began to second-guess that plan.

“I’m terrible at online school,” Williams says. He was barely interested in logging on for his final weeks of high school; being online for his first semester at Houston Community College felt unbearable.

“I know what works best for me, and doing stuff on the computer doesn’t really stimulate me in the same way an actual class would.”

Paying for college was always going to be hard, but it was even harder to justify the expense during a pandemic. “We had no money for it,” he says, “and I’m not trying to go into debt and pay that for the rest of my life.”

He wondered if college in 2020 was “really worth it.” So he postponed and instead got a job at Jimmy John’s so he could start saving up.

Williams is one of hundreds of thousands of students who decided to put off higher education this year. According to new data from the National Student Clearinghouse, undergraduate enrollment this fall declined by 3.6% from the fall of 2019. That’s more than 560,000 students and twice the rate of enrollment decline seen last year. Most of that decline occurred at community colleges, where enrollment fell by more than 10%, or more than 544,000 students.

“To see this level of decline all at once is so sudden and so dramatic,” says Doug Shapiro, who leads the research center at the National Student Clearinghouse. “It’s completely unprecedented.”


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The Friendly Grizzly | January 3, 2021 at 1:35 pm

I suspect it is plummeting for other reasons as well.

notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital | January 3, 2021 at 3:22 pm

“Williams is one of MILLIONS…..”

Fixed it for un-educated NPR

Spring enrollment will be way more down than normal also.

Defund Colleges.

People who are “terrible” at any sort of academic schooling, whether online, in person, or on another planet, don’t belong in college. They should do as Brian Williams in the story did: get a job and avoid something that was just what everyone around him was doing.

With everything available online anyway, there’s far less need for campuses.

Let’s consider a couple of alternative career paths:

1. Brian Williams goes to college 4 years, accumulating $100K of college debt, then to grad school 5 years and gets a PhD. He then begins teaching at one of the few schools that are still hiring white males, at $50,000 per year.
During his fifth year, he sends an e-mail to the Dean saying that he doesn’t think that critical race theory should be a graduation requirement. A noisy group of students protests, and they vandalize Brian’s house and picket the Dean’s house. Brian’s contract is not renewed, and no other colleges will hire him because they know their students will continue to protest.

2. Alternatively, Brian doesn’t bother with college, but takes a plumbing apprentice job at $24 per hour for four years. He then becomes a journeyman plumber at $95 per hour, and clears about $150K per year with no debts. At the end of the nine years it would have taken him to get a PhD, he will have cleared about $900K rather than being $100K in debt. When he doesn’t like someone or the way they want him to do his job, he can tell them to snake out their own damn sewer.

Especially for someone who doesn’t like academic schooling, it seems like an easy choice.

    OleDirtyBarrister in reply to OldProf2. | January 4, 2021 at 6:36 pm

    I agree with you in principal but your numbers for plumbers are way too high.

    Plumber apprentices (carpenters, electricians, etc.) do not get paid that well, $10-13 an hour is typical outside NYC and LA. They might get $22-24 per hour as journeymen outside the big cities, and senior workers get paid in the $32-35 per hour range. Obviously, those are labor rates and customers that pay for plumbing services at their house for a plumber, van, and equipment will pay $100 per hour for the services and often pay trip charges.

    Bad students really do not belong in college at any level. The money spent on community colleges and junior colleges only for the students to wash out is a big, big waste. It also entails a high opportunity cost.

I’m sure there will be some long-term impact as a few of these kids will start actual viable careers and won’t look back…but I’m guessing most of them are just delaying.

Most would never consider becoming a plumber or an HVAC Tech or any of the myriads of other skilled labor jobs that require more effort than sitting in front of a computer all day.

Parents these days let their kids stay at home until they’re in their 30’s even when they have jobs*. I would imagine most of these kids will just take a couple of years off, still living on their parents’ dime and then go to college after the dust settles a bit.

Colleges and universities are in for a rough couple of years, but I don’t see it changing the trends away from skilled labor type jobs…so plumbers will continue to be able to write their own ticket because they will still be in high demand.

*this trend is one in particular that completely flabbergasts me. When I was a teenager, I couldn’t wait to get out on my own. I was counting the days until my 18th birthday so I could be my own man and get out from under my parent’s thumb. One of the reasons I didn’t go to college right out of high school is because my parents would have had to pay for it and I’d still be under their influence for another 4 years.

And this is growing up in a stable, loving, supportive middle class household. I wasn’t trying to escape a bad situation, I just was eager to get out on my own. All of my friends were the same, even the ones who went on to college were very much looking forward to finishing and getting out on their own.

What the heck has happened to our society that young people these days are content to live under their parent’s thumbs (and on their dime) seemingly forever? I simply can’t comprehend this attitude at all.

    Brave Sir Robbin in reply to Sailorcurt. | January 5, 2021 at 12:16 am

    Very odd indeed. What ever happened to the spirit and desire for independence and self-sufficiency? It took me 5 and-a-half years to get through college, because I worked through it. Lived in poverty and worked like a dog to save money. When I had not enough money, I took time from college. Unlike you, my parents did help out some. They paid things like health insurance that I did not think I needed and auto insurance, rent deposits, my first semester’s tuition, and things like that. When the timing belt on my car’s engine broke and destroyed the engine, my dad said, “Wow, that sounds expensive,” and then started talking about the football playoffs. I worked on a loading dock, drove trucks, and joined the military as a reservist. Walked away with no debt, and only went back to my parents house for some holiday and weekend visits. I did not know a soul who act like kids do today. Not a single person. It was down-right shameful to live at home after high school, except in the summer before college. Anyone who went back to their parent’s house after college was laughed at, derided, and spoken of as a true loser. No woman would date such a man. Not even the most lowly sort. Do your kids a favor. Throw them out of the house after they graduate high school. Tell them you are not paying for college. That degree in the Art History of 16th Century French Existential Lesbian Literature is all on them. They may make wiser choices. If they chose poorly and wonder what they are going to do after college with such a useless degree, tell them they have five choices – the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or starvation.

    Make men out of your boys, and women out of your girls.