Some good news on enrollment

Fall enrollment at community colleges continues to drop — though at a slower rate — but there’s some good news: the number of first-time postsecondary students who attend public two-year colleges is up. 

Overall fall 2019 enrollment at public two-year colleges this fall dropped 1.4 percent (-77,092 students) compared to fall 2018, according to a new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. The colleges saw a 1.5 percent decrease among students ages 18 to 24, and a 3.7 percent drop among students over age 24.

However, first-time postsecondary enrollment at community colleges rose for the first time in several years, from 977,911 in fall 2018, to 986,623 this fall — an increase of 0.9 percent, the report says. In fact, public two-year colleges were the only sector to see an increase among this group.

Two-year colleges saw the largest increase in first-time college enrollment among students ages 18 to 24 (a 1.9 percent increase), while the number of students over age 24 decreased 5.9 percent.

Meanwhile, the number of students under age 18 who are generally dually enrolled at high school and community college also increased, by 36,660 students to 654,116 — a 5.9 percent jump, according to the report. Community colleges saw an identical 5.9 percent increase in dual enrollment-aged students the previous year.

Overall, enrollment at all postsecondary institutions dipped by 1.3 percent — every sector experienced a drop — with public four-year institutions seeing a 1.2 percent decrease (-97,426 students).

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily and serves as publications director for the American Association of Community Colleges.