Consumers concerned about their ability to find good-paying jobs are turning to educational institutions to sharpen their skills and improve their attractiveness to employers. During the recession start year of 2008, colleges, universities and trade school saw a 6% increase in freshmen enrollment. An enrollment jump during a recessionary period is not new, but what has changed this time around is the demographic composition of the freshmen classes.
A new report by the Pew Research Center, based on U.S. Department of Education data, finds minority students had a higher enrollment growth rate than white students. Here are the percentage increases reported by ethnic group:
- White 3%
- Hispanic 15%
- Black 8%
- Asian/Pacific Islander 6%
- American Indian/Alaskan native 2%
- Nonresident alien 11%
At the same time, specific kinds of higher education institutions reported higher growth rates than others. The highest growth rates occurred at:
- 2 Year Colleges 11%
- Colleges with enrolled students of 20,000 or more 12%
- For-profit colleges 11%
The study author Richard Fry attributes some of these changes to the new demographics of the U.S. Fry also points to the higher high school completion rates for specific demographic groups. For example, the number of white 18–24 year olds who recently finished high school stands at about 90%. Between 2007 and 2008, the number of Asian students in that age group who finished high school jumped from 87% to 92%. And for Hispanic students, the percent increase went from 67% to 70%. Because of these increases, colleges have a larger pool of minority students to draw from.
As high school completion rates for minority populations increase and as more students opt for higher education, colleges, universities and trade schools may shift their ad campaigns to target the black, Hispanic and Asian students.
[Source: Fry, Richard. Minorities and the Recession-Era College Enrollment Boom. Pew Research Center. 21 Jun. 2010. Web. 16 Jul. 2010]