Fewer High School Graduates: What it Means for Higher Education

Fewer High School Graduates: What it Means for Higher Education

Higher education institutions are bracing for a decline in the number of high school graduates in the coming years. The trend is expected to have a significant impact on enrollment—and revenue.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the number of high school graduates in the United States is projected to decline by 8% between 2022 and 2031. This trend is largely due to declining birth rates in the early 2000s, which is now reflected in the lower number of students entering high school. The largest declines are expected in the Midwest and the northeastern U.S.

It’s believed this trend will have a significant impact on enrollment and revenue for colleges and universities, particularly those that rely heavily on in-state tuition. It could also affect the diversity of the student population and, as a result, the types of programs offered at colleges and universities.

Exploring new ways to recruit and retain students, grow revenue and control costs could mitigate the effects of this demographic shift. Institutions will likely need to adjust their budgets and programs to compensate for the expected reduced enrollment. They might also need to reevaluate the programs they offer and shift their focus to those that are more in demand based on the changing demographics of the student population.

Diversifying revenue streams: Exploring new revenue opportunities by offering continuing education courses, corporate training programs, and online degrees. Such programs are more likely to attract those already in the workforce or people looking for a career change—demographics not generally impacted by a decline in high school graduates.

Marketing and outreach efforts: Increase visibility by reaching out to prospective students and their families through targeted marketing and outreach efforts. This can include utilizing social media, digital advertising, and hosting campus events.

Strategic partnerships: Form partnerships with businesses and other organizations to create mutually beneficial relationships. These ties can increase interest in your institution and generate new sources of revenue.

Streamlining administrative processes: Review your administrative processes to identify areas where you can reduce costs and improve efficiency. This can include consolidating departments, reducing staff, and outsourcing non-core functions.

Data automation and process efficiencies: Leverage technology to automate manual processes. This helps reduce errors and inefficiencies, resulting in potentially significant cost savings.

Implementing energy-efficient measures: Reduce your energy costs by adopting environmentally-friendly steps. Examples include upgrading lighting and HVAC systems, installing solar panels and utilizing alternative energy sources.

Adapting to the upcoming demographic changes means finding new ways to recruit and retain students, grow revenue and control costs. By leveraging technology, streamlining processes and diversifying revenue streams, your institution can position itself for success in the future.


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