College enrollment has kept falling, a sign that growing numbers of people are questioning the value of a college degree.
“Total college enrollment — both undergraduate and graduate — fell this spring to 16.2 million students, marking a one-year decline of 4.1%, or 685,000 students,” notes Legal Insurrection, citing data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
That followed a 3.5% drop from 2020-2021, meaning that colleges and universities have lost nearly 1.3 million students since spring 2020.
Many students learn little in college. “Thirty-six percent” of college students learned little in four years of college, and students spent “50% less time studying compared with students a few decades ago,” according to research cited by USA Today in 2011. Thirty-two percent never took “a course in a typical semester where they read more than 40 pages per week.”
Most of this year’s decline was in undergraduate enrollment, which fell 4.7%, or over 662,000 students, from the enrollment levels in spring 2021.
The total number of undergraduates now is 9.4%, or nearly 1.4 million students, smaller than before the pandemic.
“I thought we would start to see some of the declines begin to shrink a bit this term,” NSCRC Executive Director Dr. Doug Shapiro told the New York Times.
“I am surprised that it seems to be getting worse.” But as Legal Insurrection notes,
Even before COVID-19, though, college enrollment had been dropping nationally.
Enrollment at public institutions this spring was down 5% — losing 604,000 students from a year ago — and community colleges (351,000) accounted for more than half of these losses.
Community colleges have lost more than 827,000 students since the start of the pandemic.