Where Did All the Students Go?

Higher education has fully entered a new structural reality,” argues Bill Conley, vice president for enrollment management at Bucknell University, in a recent essay in The Chronicle Review. When Bucknell failed to hit its enrollment goals this spring, it wasn’t alone — National Association for College Admission Counseling data show a large increase in the number of colleges still soliciting applications after the May 1 deadline. “Up and down the selectivity ladder, especially among private colleges,” Conley writes, “yield models had been invalidated by a sea change in student college-choice behavior.”

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Students grapple with lifetime decision — college or the “trades”

“Ken Smith said the hardest thing he ever had to do in life was tell his dad he wanted to quit the engineering program at a New Jersey university and become a contractor. His father never graduated from college and wanted his son to stay in school. “You’ve got to better yourself,” his dad reminded him. As families stagger under $1.5 trillion in student loans —triple the level of college debt a decade ago — the prospect of entering what’s commonly known as “the trades” as a contractor, electrician, plumber or construction workers may prove more appealing. After all, the paycheck rolls in immediately and no one is saddled with debt.”

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Opinion: Not enough emphasis on reducing student risk

“Much of the debate about college today focuses on tuition and mounting student debt, with Democratic presidential candidates even raising the possibility of forgiving all student loans. Not enough attention is paid to risk. Spending tens of thousands of dollars annually on four years of college (or more), with little promise that it will pay off in the form of a good job, is a big gamble.”

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