Phi Beta Cons

Are College Students Wising Up?

For the fourth straight year, college enrollment is down. Data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center show that this fall, enrollments at colleges and universities dropped for the eighth semester in a row, down 1.7 percent from last fall.

The Pope Center’s Jay Schalin suggests that this might be due to students making savvier choices:

It may be that, despite the shrill rhetoric pushing for higher rates of college attendance, young people are figuring out the odds on their own and seeking other alternatives.

Schalin shows in this article that it’s actually fairly easy for a prospective student to figure out his future chances of cashing in on his college degree. Elite colleges and STEM majors, on average, deliver the best chances of monetary success.

Students can also figure out how likely they are to actually leave college with a degree in hand. Schalin points out:

For instance, according to this UCLA study, 79.3 percent of college students who had A averages in high school earned a degree within 6 years after graduation, whereas only 21.2 percent of students with C or lower averages did so. Additionally, 81.6 percent of students with two-score SATs of 1300 (out of 1600) or higher completed within six years, whereas only 30.4 percent of those with SATs lower than 800 finished.

Perhaps more students are beginning to take the “college-for-all” message with a grain of salt. Read Schalin’s full analysis here.

Jenna A. RobinsonJenna Ashley Robinson is the president of the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy. Before becoming president, she was the center's director of outreach. She was previously the ...

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