Lifestyle: US Colleges and the Economy
This edition of the FOA Newsletter features insights on US colleges and the economy by Shannon Duff, Founder of Collegiate Compass LLC
Amidst the global economic crisis, preparing today’s students for the future–and the new realities of business and life–is more important than ever. The hallmarks of the U.S. system of higher education, innovation and creative problem solving, are critical to students’ futures. Colleges and universities, despite budget strains resulting from declining endowments and increased demand for financial aid, must persevere, further develop, and adapt programs to educate students in the innovative ways that our complex world demands. It is crucial for today’s students to gain global and cultural perspective both in the classrooms of their college and by studying abroad. Additionally, trends and statements by various universities suggest that interdisciplinary programs as well as science and engineering programs will be areas of focus in the years to come for both administrations and students alike.
The troubled global economy is having numerous effects on universities. First, changes in the number of applicants to various colleges and universities are likely to represent the beginning of several trends. At private colleges which do not pledge to meet 100% of families’ demonstrated financial need, where admissions departments may consider candidates’ ability to pay tuition in decision-making, applicant pools are in many cases, leveling off or declining; these declines come after a period of significant growth in applicant pools at at both private and public colleges, stemming from demographic and educational trends over the past decade. For instance, at Bucknell and Middlebury, applications for the Class of 2013 (08-09 admissions cycle) were down approximately 5% and 12%, respectively. On the other hand, the number of applicants at many of the most compe ve colleges, including Stanford, Yale, Duke, and Brown, continues to rise; these schools all posted record- high applicant pools and substantial year over year applicant pool growth in the 08-09 admissions cycle. While the magnitude of some of these in- creases is noteworthy (the number of applications at Stanford was up 20% this year), it is not surprising that today’s students want to compete for spots at schools that offer not only the best academics, but also the largest endowments, and the benefits that come from these resources. Clearly, though, the competion is not lessening–and continues to become more global–for the most coveted under-graduate spots.
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