College Enrollment on Decline and the Economy is to Blame

Curt Casper

OMAHA (KPTM) - The United States is still recovering after the worst recession since the 1930's. As the economy trends upwards, college enrollment trends are on the decline. A Moody's Investors Service Survey from January 2013 shows over half the colleges surveyed across the country are expecting enrollment numbers to be on the decline.

Dr. Pelema Morrice of the University of Nebraska-Omaha said, "You do see trends in enrollment that are tied to the economic conditions of that region."

Even in 2012 Moody's Investors Services were cautiously optimistic about the state of higher education. Studies of enrollment trends at the peak of the recession showed more students are choosing to go back to school instead of getting a job.

"When the economy is at its peak you will find that less students are considering college options and vice versa, "Dr. Morrice said.

Lauren Ackerman is a student at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Lauren originally dropped out of college a few years ago. She attempted to find a job, but without a diploma the task proved to be difficult.

"Finding a job without a diploma of some kind, its almost, its almost terribly ridiculous on how hard it is to find a job," she said.

Two years ago, Ackerman came back to college to get her diploma. She competed on the Maverick Forensics team; a team that speaks at competitive speaking events against other schools. Each speech has a different message, fighting for change or raising awareness of different topics. Ackerman's Program Oral Interpretation focused on the importance of getting an affordable degree. Much like her speech, she to can't wait to walk across the stage and receive her diploma.

"I wanted to finish something that I started and I wanted to make an actual name for myself. I want to make my parents proud," she said.

The cost of college is also a factor for some trying to decide between education or employment. The cost of college has jumped ten thousand dollars in the last 30 years. For Dr. Morrice a decision to choose school shouldn't be based solely on economic trends.

Even if you are in an economy that is operating at a high level you still want to make that investment to prepare yourself for future opportunities," Dr. Morrice said.

Dr. Morrice also says students who get a degree also help the economic stimulus of the local economies.