The ‘demographic cliff’ is coming. Colleges must be prepared.
Apr 2024

The ‘demographic cliff’ is coming. Colleges must be prepared.

The number of college students is expected to plunge across New England as a result of the decline in birth rates after the 2007-2008 recession. By The Editorial Board

Public two-year colleges in particular are already facing enrollment challenges. Kasia Lundy, a principal at EY Parthenon, told the editorial board that public two-year colleges in Massachusetts had excess capacity of 34 percent in 2021, compared to 17 percent at public four-year colleges and 21 percent at private four-year colleges.

Of course, there are other factors that impact college attendance beyond demographics. First, there is a shift toward online learning. In the 2022-2023 academic year, 53 percent of US college students were taking at least one class online, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Second, more parents and their children have become skeptical about whether college is worth the money. Michael Horn, an author and lecturer on education and cofounder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, said surveys are increasingly showing that parents and students want to make sure college makes financial sense and will lead to a job.



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