Report: Demographic Changes Ahead for Higher Ed

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wicheAfter steady growth over the last three decades, the overall number of US high school graduates is leveling off.

However, trends vary by geographic region, according to a new report from the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). States in the South and West are poised for growth, while those in the Midwest and Northeast continue to see declines.

In addition, the racial and ethnic makeup of students is becoming more diverse, data show.

“We are moving toward a time when nearly half of all high school graduates will be students of color, with the largest increases among Hispanics and Asian/Pacific Islanders,” Joe Garcia, president of WICHE, said in a press release. “Meanwhile, as our population continues to shift geographically, the states that will gain the most population will educate the highest percentage of students of color.”

The findings are included in WICHE’s most recent report — Knocking at the College Door: Projections of High School Graduates. The publication, now in its ninth edition, is updated with new information every four years.

Other key highlights from this year’s report include:

  • Declining numbers of private school graduates: The number of high school graduates from private schools is projected to decline at an even greater rate, with a decrease of roughly 26 percent projected between 2011 and the early 2030s.
  • Demographic shifts among high school grads: Between 2013 and 2030, the number of white public school graduates is projected to decrease by 14 percent. The number of African American grads will remain steady, with increases projected for Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander students.

Those two finding highlight the need for colleges and universities to develop new outreach strategies, Garcia told The Washington Post.

Colleges won’t be able to continue to rely on the same “feeder schools” to fill their freshmen classes, he said.

“You can’t use your same old strategies,” Garcia told The Post. “You need to change your approach.”

Read the full report.

Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org.

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