Americans Are Quietly Skipping College In Higher Numbers 

( )- The COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench in a lot of people’s plans. From massive layoffs to debt repayment plans to purchasing a home, millions of Americans had to adjust their life plans due to the massive effects the pandemic had. 

Some of these things were temporary. The housing market bounced back in a big way. Many industries did as well, with job numbers now soaring. Yet, there’s one area that hasn’t experienced a bounceback at all – the number of students going to college. 

Many young Americans held off on college plans at the outset of the pandemic for a variety of reasons. Many people in the educational world thought it would be temporary, that students would return to college campuses once the pandemic waned and many restrictions were lifted. 

But, that’s not what has happened at all. 

The National Student Clearinghouse released data recently that showed that, between 2019 and 2022, overall enrollment in undergraduate college dropped 8%. Declines even continued after colleges returned to the normal full in-person teaching. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported that the drop in college attendance rates that actually dates back to 2018 is the steepest one on record. 

Many economists say that if this trend continues – and becomes more of a long-term reality than a short-term trend – it could have dire consequences for the country as a whole. 

If an entire generation of American students devalues a college education, it could lead to massive labor shortages in some fields that are already struggling to find qualified American workers – fields such as information technology and health care.  

People who decide not to go to college are also likely passing up on huge future earnings potential. A report from the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University showed that those who don’t go to college earn roughly 75% less in their lifetimes than those who earn at least a bachelor’s degree.  

Difficulty finding a job is a major concern, especially during economic downturns and recessions, like the one that’s potentially looming on the horizon. 

Zack Mabel, who works as a researcher at Georgetown University, commented: 

“It’s quite a dangerous proposition for the strength of our national economy.” 

The best-case scenario here is that at least some of those who skipped out on college during the pandemic decide to go back to college in the next few years – and that the next set of high school graduates beyond them resume going to college at higher rates. 

The challenge, though, is going to be getting higher education institutions to regain trust among this generation of students. Many were basically left to fend for themselves during remote learning. Many of these students felt that the quality of “education” they were receiving was extremely low, even though they were paying loads of money for tuition. 

That sentiment trickled down to the high school students, who also were “learning” from home. 

Now, colleges, universities and educational professionals throughout the country are going to have to convince students that it’s worth their time, effort and money to continue their education beyond high school.