U.S. colleges are seeing an average 16% enrollment decline. Tarleton State University President Dr. James Hurly says historically enrollment numbers always rise and fall over the years. "We have been in that period of decline in enrollment already because the economy has been good and that's what happens when there are jobs available without a college degree. The pandemic just catapulted the number of students who decided not to attend to just to take a 'gap' year." Hurly's school, though, has worked hard to be the exception.
"Cultivating and building partnerships with Texas high schools to boost our enrollment worked really well for us. We are up almost 1,000 freshmen students --- that's up almost 7% for the year today." They also invested more financial aid and scholarships into the freshman class wanting to reduce the cost of education.
With college enrollment down across the country President Hurly sees some colleges going under and others consolidating. It's an especially tough time for students and their families financially and virtual learning has cost schools the loss of income from room and board and food services, Hurly says education is changing. "I think more hybrid and blended virtual learning and face-to-face classes will become the norm moving forward." Schools that depend upon international students are especially hit hard.