Enrollments are not (repeat not) declining
Boston — You've been reading about the declinem in college enrollments for so long, you're excused if you think the decline has already occurred. You've been reading about one small private college or another closing and been told the finale was related to the enrollment decline, and so you're excused if you thought the decline began sometime back in the 1970s.
Let's look at some statistics for total enrollments compiled by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare for all institutions of higher education in the United States. In the fall of 1968 - 7,513,000 In the fall of 1970 - 8,581,000 In the fall of 1972 - 9,215,000 In the fall of 1974 - 10,224,000 In the fall of 1976 - 11,012,000 In the fall of 1978 - 11,259,000
Any college or university that has closed in the past 20 years has had its own problems, and cannot lay the problem at the door of "declining enrollments." Beginning with the returning veterans of World War II and continuing with GI benefits from the Korean conflict and the Vietnam war, enrollments have done nothing but rise over the past 25 years.
Projections for the fall of 1980 show another rise, this time to 11,611,000, or some 352,000 more in that two-year period. All projections through 1988 estimate more than 11 million students, with a peak of 11,690,000 in 1981 and a gentle decline after that.
But these projections are guesses and do not include the enormous interest in college and university enrollments by adults. Many colleges no longer shy away from those over 25 in their undergraduate degree programs.