Rising college enrollment reflects trends

May 21, 2012

From wausaudailyherald.com: “Rising, UWMC, NTC enrollment reflects trends” — The University of Wisconsin Marathon County and Northcentral Technical College are part of a national trend that has seen college enrollment shoot up as the economy has struggled.

But the two public colleges differ from many four-year and private universities across the country because they have generally kept the same admission standards for years and rarely turn students away.

For the last five years or so, particularly during the recession, colleges across the country have been inundated with applications and from 2008 to 2009, enrollment in college grew by more than 7 percent to just under 21 million, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. New figures show that rates of enrollment still are increasing, though at a slower rate. In 2010, the number of students in postsecondary institutions was 21.6 million, up 2.8 percent from 2009.

At the same time, many colleges and other institutions have made their admission process more competitive, a trend described in a January 2008 Newsweek article titled “Getting in Gets Harder.”

Laurie Borowicz, vice president of student services at Northcentral Technical College, has just completed a doctoral dissertation on enrollment trends. The economy has played a significant role in the increased interest in college, Borowicz said, because students realize they need more than a high school diploma to get a job. And colleges are facing budget cutbacks at the same time, so many have tightened admission standards.

NTC has not changed its admissions standards significantly, Borowicz said, except for students who want to enter health programs. Those were so popular there were waiting lists, Borowicz said, some stretching several years.

“That wasn’t serving us or the students well,” she said. Now students take an admission test and are accepted to health programs based on the results.

In other programs, no one ever is turned away, Borowicz said. Students with poor high school grades are allowed to enter remedial courses to qualify for NTC.

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