In the face of the “baby bust”—the drop in the nation’s birth rate that has produced a decade-long decline of high-school graduates—Christian colleges greeted smaller freshman classes, yet relatively stable total enrollments this fall.

Figures released by the National Association of Christian College Admissions Personnel (NACCAP) for fall 1990 show total enrollment in the 78 schools providing information for the survey down slightly (1.6%) over fall 1989 enrollments.

Average freshman rolls dropped by 9.4 percent from last year. (Only 26 schools provided freshman numbers to NACCAP, which gathered the freshman figures for the first time this year; 11 schools posted gains, 15 showed losses.)

At the same time, relatively good news came from figures that show total new full-time equivalent enrollment up by 1.3 percent. What filled the gap, says NACCAP resource coordinator Betsy Miller, were nontraditional students, such as older adults enrolled in evening and extension classes and in degree-completion programs. To find new students, some schools have also more actively recruited international students. West Coast schools, for instance, have looked to Japan and other Pacific Rim nations. Other schools report they have reached further into their waiting lists of prospective students to fill available spaces.

State and private colleges and universities across the country reported declines in this fall’s freshman class. In some cases, institutions enrolled up to 35 percent fewer first-year students than a year ago, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. The pool of graduating high-school seniors is expected to shrink for another two to four years, then begin to rise slowly for several years thereafter.

During the past five years, ...

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