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Spring college enrollment continues slide

June 02, 2022

Spring college enrollment figures released last week by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (Clearinghouse) showed a continued decline with postsecondary enrollment falling to 16.2 million, a 4.1 percent decline from the previous spring. Combined with the 3.5 percent drop in enrollment last spring, the Clearinghouse reported that the undergraduate student body is now 9.4 percent, or nearly 1.4 million students, smaller than before the pandemic.

Public sector two- and four-year colleges combined enrolled 71 percent of all students this spring, and experienced the steepest drop (5 percent), with community colleges falling 7.8 percent. Community colleges also suffered the greatest loss in full-time students, losing 168,000 students over the past year, amounting to a 20.9 percent loss (372,000 students) since spring 2020.

A few majors saw the number of students increase, namely computer sciences (up 7.8 percent or 37,600 students) and psychology (4.7 percent increase, or 22,600 students). Skilled trades program enrollment also increased at two-year colleges, including construction (+19.3 percent, 11,140 students), mechanic and repair (+11.5 percent, 9,950 students), precision and production (+16.7 percent, 7,740 students), and culinary (+12.7 percent, 6,170 students). However, the growth was not enough to return to pre-pandemic levels of enrollment in these majors, except for construction, according to the Clearinghouse.

The spring report is available here.

higher ed, enrollment