Highlights from Higher Ed: Exclusive Elites, Online Learning, Enrollment Trends and Earnings by Degree

David Art
Oct 15, 2021

Study Suggests Elite Colleges Keep Enrollment Levels Low to Boost Prestige

Although college enrollment has generally been increasing for decades, many top-ranked institutions have declined to boost enrollment numbers to keep up with rising demand. According to researchers from Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania, that may reflect the fact that those schools are more concerned with their exclusivity than with their accessibility. Yale University, for example, admitted nearly the same number of students in 2015 (1,360) as in 1979 (1,346). “Meanwhile, applications to Yale boomed…, rising by 300%, from 9,331 applicants in 1979 to 30,932 in 2015. In contrast, enrollment at accessible institutions, those in the bottom 25% of average SAT percentiles, jumped by 61% from 1990 to 2015.”

Source: Higher Ed Dive

Students Give Online Learning Good Grades

The vast majority of recently surveyed students who participated in online learning during the pandemic (79%) answered “definitely” or “probably” when asked if they would “do it all over again” if they had to. While only about half (51%) now see online learning in a more positive light, most students said they liked the flexibility (85%) and convenience (78%) it offered. The list of top concerns includes lack of interaction with instructors (30%), the workload (30%), the need for greater self-discipline and motivation (27%) and lack of interaction with classmates (24%). “The report noted that ‘small scholarships’ would play a big role in enrollment. For an annual scholarship of at least $500, 38% of survey participants said they would choose that school over another. An additional 21% would choose one school over another for at least a $1,000 annual scholarship.”

Source: Campus Technology

Only Four States Experienced Undergraduate Enrollment Increases Last Year

Arizona, Nebraska, New Hampshire and Utah were the only U.S. states in which the number of enrolled undergraduate students grew on a year-over-year basis in the fall of 2020. California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington recorded the biggest undergrad population declines, with a combined drop of nearly 100,000 students. An analysis of National Center for Education Statistics data covering more than 3,000 schools throughout the country found that fewer than one-third experienced undergrad enrollment growth during that period. “The biggest growth was among for-profit colleges. Of the 124 institutions whose undergraduate enrollment grew by more than a third, seven out of 10 were for-profit colleges — though they also account for just 15% of the total group analyzed.”

Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education

Earnings Usually Increase with a Bachelor’s Degree — but Not Always

Generally speaking, workers with bachelor’s degrees earn more money than those without the degree, but notable exceptions to the rule exist. According to a report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, the median lifetime earnings for those with a bachelor’s degree is $2.8 million, compared with $2 million and $1.9 million for those with associate degrees and some college, respectively. On an annual basis, the median amount earned by bachelor’s degrees holders is about $70,000. That number falls to $50,000 among associate degree holders and $47,500 among workers with some college. “However, 28% of associate degree holders, 23% of workers with some college education and 16% of workers with only a high school diploma earn more than half of workers who hold a bachelor’s degree.”

Source: Inside Higher Ed

David Art

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