Undergraduate Enrollments Down 275,000 in Spring 2018

Undergraduate Enrollments Down 275,000 in Spring 2018

by | May 22, 2018 | Current Term Enrollment, Research Services |

6 of 10 States Seeing Largest Enrollment Declines Are in the Midwest or Northeast

Undergraduate enrollments fell by over 275,000 students, a decline of 1.8 percent, to 15.3 million according to the Spring 2018 Current Term Enrollment Estimates from the National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center™. Enrollments in graduate and professional programs increased by nearly 44,000, but these gains were outweighed by the decrease in undergraduate enrollments. Total postsecondary enrollments are now at 17.8 million, a decline of 1.3 percent compared to spring term 2017.

Additionally, the report shows the number of students who started college in the spring term. There were 755,000 students who began their college career between January and May of 2018, a decline of 57,000, or 7.1 percent, compared to spring 2017. The decline in new student enrollments included more than 22,000 fewer students over the age of 24 and nearly 35,000 fewer in the 18-to-24 age group. When combined with those who started in the fall, this brings the total number of first-timers to 3.4 million for the academic year, down from 3.5 million in 2016-17.

“Institutions are doing a better job of holding onto their traditional age students, but continue to lose ground on enrolling older adults,” stated Doug Shapiro, Executive Research Director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. “The part-time associates and certificate programs that were so attractive to adult students, particularly the unemployed, a decade ago, are showing all the effects of the recovering economy drawing those students back into the workforce today.” 

The top 10 states with the largest decreases in enrollment:

New York 45,608 Ohio 9,623
Michigan 22,571 Pennsylvania 9,596
Florida 17,003 Colorado 9,049
Minnesota 11,262 West Virginia 8,755
Missouri 9,962 Oregon 7,255

The top 5 states with the largest increases in enrollment:

Utah 19,974
Georgia 10,583
Arizona 5,566
Indiana 5,139
California 4,234

Top 5 undergraduate majors gaining enrollment at four-year institutions, by percentage increase:

Transportation and Materials Moving 6.9%
Construction Trades 6.6%
Science Technologies/Technicians 6.5%
Architecture and Related Services 4.9%
Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services 3.7%

Top 5 undergraduate majors gaining enrollment at two-year institutions, by percentage increase:

Science Technologies/Technicians 30.0%
Biological and Biomedical Sciences 16.3%
History 7.6%
Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics 5.2%
Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services 4.1%

For more details, read our press release.

Table 1: Estimated National Enrollment by Sector (Title IV, Degree-Granting Institutions)

Spring 2018 Spring 2017 Spring 2016
Sector Enrollment % Change from Prior Year Enrollment % Change from Prior Year Enrollment % Change from Prior Year
Total
Enrollment, All Sectors

17,839,330

 -1.3% 18,071,004 -1.5%  18,343,655 -1.3%
Four-Year, Public

7,664,873 

-0.2% 7,677,659 2.0% 7,660,065 1.0%
Four-Year, Private Nonprofit

3,686,972

-0.4% 3,703,320 -0.2% 3,710,663 0.7%
Four-Year, For-Profit

925,532

-6.8% 993,169 -10.1% 1,104,587 -9.3%
Two-Year, Public

5,291,752

-2.0% 5,399,145 -2.5% 5,537,822 -3.3%
Unduplicated Student Headcount (All Sectors)

17,510,928

-1.3% 17,740,912 -1.5% 18,003,354 -1.4%

“Institutions are doing a better job of holding onto their traditional age students, but continue to lose ground on enrolling older adults.”

Doug Shapiro
Executive Research Director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center