Declining college enrollment in the U.S.–recent trends and findings

By October 26, 2021 News

New U.S. Census data point to declining school enrollment in the U.S. between 2019 and 2020. In fact, college enrollment in 2020 was the lowest it has been since 2007. According to the Census Bureau, the bulk of the drop-off occurred at two-year community colleges, “which had their lowest enrollment levels in 20 years.”

Here’s the screenshot figure from the Census Bureau showing long-term trend lines:

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Access the U.S. Census Bureau release here. Find detailed enrollment tables here.

Men are disproportionately choosing to forego college. A recent editorial from USA Today‘s Editorial Board says it’s time to try and understand why.

In September, reporter Douglas Belkin examined this college enrollment trend in The Wall Street Journal: “A Generation of American Men Give Up on College: ‘I Just Feel Lost.'” Belkin cited numbers from the National Student Clearinghouse, which show that at the end of 2020-21, nearly 60% of college students were women; men, on the other hand, made up around 40% of college enrollments. He also notes that compared to five years earlier, colleges enrolled 1.5 million fewer students–with men accounting for 71% of the drop-off.