The Washington Post recently reported that enrollment at colleges nationwide "has shrunk more than five percent since 2019." However, the impact has been greater on regional colleges and universities that serve disadvantaged students. For example, institutions in the western region of Pennsylvania have been affected by stagnant population growth, the pandemic, and increasing wages that make working a more appealing option than studying.
Some students are even questioning whether the traditional choice to either enter the workforce or enroll in college after high school may be a false choice. These students are exploring ways to earn college credit towards a degree while earning an income and gaining experience. Other reasons why students may delay or opt out of attending college include:
- The monetary and opportunity costs of earning a degree
- Concerns about the health of the economy and a resulting hesitation to incur debt
- Availability of good-paying entry-level jobs that do not require a bachelor's degree
- Preference for practical skills and training over the traditional college experience and lifestyle