Almost all colleges have seen decreased enrollment over the past decade. Predictions for an even steeper enrollment cliff in 2026 have higher education professionals worried. With reduced populations of high school graduates in the pipeline for college, there are challenges ahead for higher education. But there are ways to help soften the impact on your institution. Navigating this drop will require strategy and introspection to find the students who will thrive in your institution. In this paper, we will explore the enrollment trends, predictions for 2023 and beyond, and strategies to help support healthy enrollment yields for the coming years.
FACTORS AFFECTING ENROLLMENT
U.S. birthrate fluctuations affect enrollment, but many other factors play a part.1 The coming enrollment cliff is brought about primarily by the drop in births around the 2008 financial crisis, with those babies hitting traditional college age around 2025 and 2026. But economic, political, legal, and societal changes all affect who enrolls in college.