Freshman, During a Recession

There’s an interesting piece in today at Inside Higher Ed looking at how the recession has impacted college freshman. According to the article by Allie Grasgreen:

A new study largely confirms what anecdotal reports had anticipated about national college enrollment patterns during the economic downturn: that enrollments of high school students swelled, that larger numbers of students chose community colleges, but that private colleges did not suffer the losses that many had predicted. But the study — though its data are limited in scope — also shows that the extent of the shifts, and how different institutions were affected, varied by region.

It found that annual cohorts of these students at all institutions from 2006-10 remained most stable in the Midwest, that the South and West saw steady growth through 2009 before a drop the next year, and that the Northeast enjoyed a small but steady continuous increase. The South enrolled by far the most each year and, as a consequence, experienced the biggest increases and decreases.

So apparently money worries are leading a lot of students to community colleges. Though the long-term impact of the recession (greater debt, unclear job prospects) probably won’t really show for years, the recession, at least so far, doesn’t seem to have resulted in dramatically fewer students actually going to college.

This is based on a study by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, which looked at the behavior of first-time students under the age of 21.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer