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The Economy Affects College Enrollments and Admissions Strategies

An excellent article from the Baltimore Sun analyzes the way in which colleges are reacting to the economic downturn.  Here are some of the trends.

  • More private colleges are turning to their waiting lists to fill their classes.
  • More families are making deposits accepting admission to more then one institution, then bargaining hard for financial aid, pitting one school against the other.
  • More students are questioning the value of a private education in a time of economic uncertainty.
  • Enrollments at community colleges seem to be increasing.

 Mark Montgomery
College Admission Counselor

Reader Interactions


  1. I need to know how the bad and unstable economy affects ivy league colleges so please send me some info about my topic

  2. Jessica,
    Thanks for your question. What sort of information are you seeking? There have been many articles in the mainstream press that have addressed a lot of these (endowments, financial aid, etc.). Is there anything specific I can help you find?

  3. I was wondering how the current economic situation has affected students’ decisions to either drop out of undergrad to pursue an immediate career or to go to on to grad school in order to avoid the economy and better prepare themselves for a more competitive job market once they are out. thanks!

  4. Dear Katy,

    I don’t have any hard data on these issues at the moment, but you are, of course, raising critical questions that colleges and universities will be struggling to answer in the next few months. First of all, we’re waiting to see what the acceptance and yield rates are at a wide range of public and private universities. And we’ll be keeping an eye on graduate school admissions, too, to see if young people are abandoning the job market in favor of further education and preparation.

    It’s a very uncertain time in the broad economy, and that uncertainty is definitely making itself felt in the admissions business (both graduate and undergraduate). Stay tuned, as I’m sure I’ll be sharing my thoughts about the hard data as it becomes available in the next few weeks.

    Thanks for visiting my blog!

  5. Mark-

    I can’t seem to find the Baltimore Sun Article. Do you have a link to it? Also, on the same topic, do you believe that Private Colleges and Universities are accepting marginal students whom they would have rejected a few years ago, simply because, in the current economy, families are choosing state schools over more expensive private schools? Are admissions standards thus RISING at State Universities?

  6. Hi, Charlie. I can’t seem to get to the story, either. Seems that the Baltimore Sun takes down their content and does not have a solid, searchable archive. Sorry about that.

    As for your question, anecdotal evidence indicates that admissions standards may be rising at some state universities. It’s a bit too early to tell, as colleges have not fully compiled statistics for this year. They will have to report these data to the government, and these data (which make it possible to compare across institutions and through time) are always a year or two behind the calendar.

    Keep in mind, however, that statistics are just statistics, and should not necessarily serve as a guide for you or your family. Case in point: one of my clients this year received essentially a full ride to a private liberal arts college, but received no financial aid at all from her local state college. It’s actually cheaper for her to attend a private college than to attend a public one. Such outcomes are not uncommon for the student who takes the time to research the colleges that will value her most. This is the sort of assistance I love to provide families, and this young lady is so excited she can hardly stand it. She never for a second believed that it would be possible for her to attend her first choice school. Sometimes things just work out!

    Thanks for visiting my blog.

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