Crowded Classrooms

Special emphases and upgraded recruitment portend growth for Christian colleges.
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Special emphases and upgraded recruitment portend growth for Christian colleges.

According to a new survey of college enrollment released last December by six higher education groups, college enrollment held its own in 1984, contrary to all the predictions that significant declines would take place.

There were two main reasons for the predictions of a decline.

First was a projected decrease in the number of traditionally college-age students in the nation’s total population. According to Oscar T. Lenning, vice-president for academic affairs and academic dean at Roberts Wesleyan College, Rochester, New York, that decrease is as high as 40 percent or more in some parts of the country. In 1984 the number of students in high school nationwide declined by 5.3 percent.

Second, the costs of a college education, particularly in the private sector of higher education, have been spiraling. The cost of a four-year program in a private liberal arts college today can easily amount to more than $40,000. John L. Glancy, director of university relations at Seattle Pacific University in Washington, notes that “from 1980 to 1983 family income rose 20 percent, but private college costs rose 40 percent during the same period.”

But the predictions of decline did not come true. Why?

The reason is that, knowing the facts of a declining pool of students and spiraling costs, colleges have upgraded their recruitment efforts by attracting large numbers of older students. As a result, though the number of full-time, first-time freshmen in the 18-to 24-year-old category declined by 2.85 percent (according to a report in the Dec. 20, 1984, issue of USA Today), total enrollment is up by 0.65 percent at public universities and colleges and down only 0.88 percent ...

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