As Harvard University is embroiled in an admissions lawsuit claiming that they actively discriminate against Asian American students, new data shows that other universities are having trouble meeting their enrollment quotas in general.
While the low enrollment phenomena is hitting higher education nationally, it’s been especially hard on colleges and universities in Pennsylvania including Cheyney University of PA, the nations oldest institution designated as a HBCU. Low enrollment forced the typically selective Bucknell University to admit 100 students off their waitlist this Fall, that’s more than a 50 percent increase in the admission of waitlisted students. This has caused Pennstylvania state universities to freeze their tuition for the first time in 20 years while premier private schools (state supported) like Temple University in Philadelphia saw massive enrollment drop-off as well.
Most officials are chalking this up to the big drop off in the number of US highschool graduates. The US is projected to graduate around 3.5 million highschoolers this year. While that’s a massive uptick from 2000 when the number was closer to 3 million, studies show that the number is projected to drop to around 3.3 million by 2031. According to Bucknell president John C. Bravman, colleges in general “are being questioned as to our core values, our purpose, our efficacy, as well as our cost.”
He’s probably not wrong either. A Bucknell University education goes for around $72,000 a year. In a world that is littered with new online avenues for being your own boss and independent knowledge acquisition, the idea of owing to the government almost half a million dollars just to say you went to Bucknell is more laughable and maybe impractical than ever, especially to millennials and Gen Z’s who can witness the horror of college debt and underemployment first hand.
Paying too much for an education seems even more ridiculous when you realize that schools like Rowan University are thriving by developing strong transfer relationships with community colleges and maintaining a freshman retention rate of 90 percent. To go to Rowan, out of state students pay around $11,000 a year while in-state students only pay around $7,000. The fact remains that colleges and universities may have some soul searching to do if they want to survive.