Enrollment in colleges to slow, study suggests

Three million more people will be enrolled in higher education institutions across the country such as Boston University by 2022, a report released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center of Education Statistics projects.

With this growth rate decreasing in comparison to the past decade, the college-age population is projected to drop by over 4 percent by 2022, the report stated.

“This is not a new trend,” said BU spokesman Colin Riley. “In fact, you go back 20, 30 years you’ll see at that point … roughly half of all high school graduates applied to and enrolled at college.”

BU is continuing to lower its target enrollment, Riley said.

“The last couple years, it’s been 3,800 [students enrolled],” Riley said. “Before that, it was 39 [hundred] and the year before that it was 4,000. It’s declined as part of the university’s strategic planning.”

Riley said BU is becoming increasingly selective when it comes to the amount of applicants it accepts.

“The university’s reputation is getting recognized as being stronger,” he said. “We have a greater number of applicants, applicants that are highly regarded and have multiple options available to them when they’re applying to BU.”

The DOE’s report also predicted men will apply to and enroll in higher education institutions less than women will in the future.

The report projected male enrollment to grow by 8.9 percent from 2012 to 2022, while female enrollment is estimated to grow by nearly double that with figure at 17.7 percent.

Riley said the gap between men and women enrolled in college, with women outweighing men, may exist partially due to males’ greater interest in fields and careers “that are predominantly male” and do not necessarily require a traditional college education, such as technical schools or occupations within the military.

Several BU students said they were concerned with increasing competition in the job market, a pool quickly being filled with fellow college graduates.

“Sometimes people will say they’d rather work and make money instead of blowing it on a degree,” said Sean Moore, a freshman in BU’s College of General Studies. “My main concern is trying to make up the cost of a six-figure education.”

College of Arts and Sciences senior Vlad Solomon said undergraduate degrees are depreciating in value.

“Degrees in general are really not worth the money,” he said. “It’s coming to the point where college degrees are the norm and some people need to get graduate degrees to set themselves apart. That means more debt in the long run.”

Despite the growing number of college students enrolled in the US and the challenges that influx brings, though, many students said they remain optimistic about their futures.

Emma Glynn, a freshman in CAS, said she felt success after college was still attainable.

“Yes, there are a lot more people getting college degrees,” she said. “That’s a positive thing, nationally. But to get noticed in a competitive job market, the strategy hasn’t changed. You need to be ambitious.”

Akshat Jain, a sophomore double-majoring in the School of Management and the College of Engineering, said he was optimistic about entering the job market after college.

“I’m sure my degree will still be worth a lot after I graduate,” he said. “Until there is a new way to get a specialized education, university degrees will remain valuable.”

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