Chronicle of Higher Education: Enrollment Shortfalls Spread to More Colleges

Enrollment Shortfalls Spread to More Colleges
By Eric Kelderman MAY 20, 2019 

A broad swath of private colleges across the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions are expected to miss their enrollment goals for the fall semester. That growing trend now includes some institutions that have rarely, if ever, had to worry about filling classes.

Bucknell University, for example, expects that its freshman class this fall will be about 2 percent smaller than planned, or a total of roughly 960 students, said William T. Conley, its vice president for enrollment management.

That’s not a death sentence for the Pennsylvania institution, which admits just 30 percent of applicants. But it could be the proverbial canary in the coal mine for a segment of higher education that has, so far, been buffered by an abundance of students willing to pay a high price for an exclusive educational experience.

“I do get the sense that more than a handful of highly selective colleges missed their enrollment targets this year,” said Robert Massa, who still talks with enrollment professionals across the country after a 45-year career in financial aid and admissions. He retired from Drew University in February.

Ithaca College, which enrolls nearly 5,500 undergraduates, is larger and less selective than Bucknell, admitting about 70 percent of its undergraduate applicants. But the college, in upstate New York, will have some 175 fewer freshmen and $4.6 million less in tuition revenue than planned, said its president, Shirley M. Collado.

Several other college officials and higher-education consultants confirmed that they are seeing enrollment problems at numerous institutions.

The reasons for the enrollment shortfalls, said Massa and others, are complex and tied to several factors. Those include the declining number of high-school students across the regions, families’ increasing sensitivity to tuition and other costs, questions about the overall value of a college degree, and the ease with which students can apply to and consider multiple colleges.

Such forces have spurred a different kind of competition in higher education, in which students increasingly choose price over a preferred campus experience.

That means students and their parents are comparing one small, liberal-arts college not only with another but also with public colleges that may offer similar programs at a lower cost, Massa said.

The less difference parents see between the private colleges and the public ones, he said, the more likely they are to choose the less-expensive option.

A Broken Business Model

The pressures that Bucknell and other colleges are experiencing have already taken a toll on a number of smaller and lesser known institutions in the Northeast. Many have been trapped in a vicious cycle, seeking to counter declining enrollment by increasing the amount of institutional aid that they provide.

On average, private colleges now discount tuition by more than 50 percent for freshmen, according to the latest annual figures in a report from the National Association of College and University Business Officers.

But there’s a limit to that business model. Even if they attract more students, most colleges are getting less tuition money, the report said. In the 2017-18 academic year, net tuition revenue from freshmen fell 3.6 percent compared with the previous year.

In some cases, the business model has broken down entirely. Since 2018, several colleges in New England have shut their doors or announced plans to close, including the College of St. Joseph and Green Mountain, Mount Ida, Newbury, and Southern Vermont Colleges.

Years of declining enrollment was one factor that pushed Hampshire College to undertake a drastic plan this year to slash the Massachusetts institution’s operating expenses, in part by not admitting a full freshman class for the fall.

Some colleges are now taking broad steps to prevent a crisis, if possible. At Ithaca, the enrollment slide has been a catalyst for change and a new strategic plan, said Collado, the college’s president since 2017.

“The dip, as unfortunate as it is, presents an opportunity for a strategic shift that faculty and staff can own in a significant way,” she said in an interview. The goals will be to make the college more affordable and increase the diversity of the student body, she said.

That will require new sources of money, she said, such as finding uses for the campus during traditional down times, providing more-affordable housing and dining options for students, and increasing the number of adult learners and community-college transfers.

Nanci Tessier, senior vice president at the Art & Science Group, a consulting firm, said it’s not yet clear which colleges will emerge from the current trend as winners or losers. But they should not expect to overcome the challenge just by spending more on financial aid or conducting better marketing.

“There’s a tendency for institutions to say, We will market our way out,” she said. “That’s tactical, but redesigning programmatic offerings is the harder and more essential work to do.”

It’s Complicated

Conley, the vice president for enrollment at Bucknell, said for now it appeared that inadequate spending on student aid could account for his university’s enrollment shortfall. Bucknell, where the full cost of attendance is nearly $70,000 a year, had a discount rate of about 31 percent and underspent its financial-aid budget by about $1.2 million.

“We got pinched by colleges with a higher discount rate.”

But its peer competitors, including Colgate University, Lafayette College, and Lehigh University, had an average discount rate of closer to 40 percent, he said. “We got pinched by colleges with a higher discount rate,” he said. “It would have cost us more than $3.5 million to compete with a stronger financial peer group.”

The declining pool of traditional-age college students in some parts of the country is also changing which colleges Bucknell and other institutions compete with.

In the past a typical Bucknell applicant would apply to seven private colleges and just two public ones, Conley said. Now that student is applying to a dozen or more colleges, and just half are private.

As a result, Bucknell’s biggest competitor for students has become Pennsylvania State University, Conley said. More surprising, he said, the University of Delaware is one of the top five competitors, probably because it has a more-affordable engineering program.

“It’s not just about students’ ability to pay, but their willingness to pay.”

Tessier agreed. “It’s not just about students’ ability to pay,” she said, “but their willingness to pay. A smaller population has greater choices.”

“The nature of competition has changed and continues to change,” she said. “It used to be that students looked in a ‘category,’ but not anymore. They look across categories.”

Eric Kelderman writes about money and accountability in higher education, including such areas as state policy, accreditation, and legal affairs. You can find him on Twitter @etkeld, or email him at

Pitzer College (CA): 2019 Fall Diversity Program

We will be hosting Pitzer College’s Fall Diversity Program from October 13 to October 15, 2019. The program is designed specifically for high school seniors from underrepresented backgrounds attending school in the United States. Students will have an opportunity to experience the distinct atmosphere that defines Pitzer College while interacting with current students, faculty, staff and other prospective students.

The Fall Diversity Program is all-expense-paid and covers round-trip transportation (air, train, bus, gas/mileage reimbursement). Attendees will be hosted by current students in the residence halls and will dine on campus throughout the three-day program.

We hope you will share this opportunity with students. The application is due Monday, August 26, 2019, and requires an essay as well as a copy of the student’s high school transcript through their junior year. You can find out more information regarding the Diversity Program, as well as a link to the application, by visiting our website.

Provida futuri,

Dwayne Okpaise
Assistant Director of Admission
Pitzer College


Pitzer College | Office of Admission
1050 N Mills Ave
Claremont, CA 91711



Wednesday, May 15, 2019

NACAC reports nearly 500 fabulous colleges still admitting students for fall 2019

By:  Nancy Griesemer:

According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) nearly 500 fabulous colleges and universities are still admitting qualified freshman and/or transfer students for fall 2019. And many of these schools also have financial aid and housing to offer.

Now in its 32nd year, the College Openings Update is a wonderful search tool for counselors, parents and teachers as they work with students who have not yet completed the college application and admission process. The listing applies equally for students who may have gotten a late start on their applications as well as for those who weren’t totally satisfied with admissions results received by the May 1 response deadline observed by many colleges.

“The NACAC College Openings Update is a win-win for students and postsecondary institutions,” said Joyce E. Smith, NACAC’s CEO. “For example, some colleges and universities may face challenges in predicting how many students will accept an admission offer. They may find openings in their incoming freshman class for deserving students if their predictions are slightly off. This creates opportunities for students seeking a great match after May 1.”

Typically, colleges continue to join the Update after the public release date until the page closes on June 30. The Update is a voluntary “bulletin board style” listing for NACAC members, including domestic as well as foreign institutions. This year, over 90 percent of colleges on the fall 2019 Update are based in the U.S., although Canada, the United Kingdom and other countries are well represented.

Note that if an institution—of any description—does not appear on the list, it does not necessarily mean there are no openings.  Not every college chooses to participate.

Nevertheless, the NACAC list contains some amazing opportunities for students still open to offers.

For example, Appalachian State University (NC), Arizona State University, Baylor University (TX), Belmont University (TN), Drew University (NJ), Florida Atlantic University (FL),  Hofstra University (NY), Iowa State University (IA), New College of Florida (FL), Oregon State University (OR), Pennsylvania State UniversityOhio Wesleyan University, St. Joseph’s University (PA), the University of Delaware (DE), the University of Denver (CO), the University of Maryland (MD), the University of Oregon, the University of San Diego (CA), Xavier University (OH), and West Virginia University (WV) are posting space available for the fall.

And Chapman University, Providence College (RI), Rutgers University-New Brunswick, Salve Regina University (RI), Santa Clara University (CA), TCU (TX), the University of Connecticut, Ursinus College and the University of Miami (FL) have spaces for transfers.

But be aware that this list is highly fluid.  “Admission is an ongoing process for many institutions,” Smith has noted in the past.

Over the next several weeks, colleges will finish reviewing their incoming classes for vacancies and if they want to publicize openings, they will add their names to the Update.  Already, the list has risen from about 400 colleges when it was first published to nearly 500 colleges and universities, as of this publication. So keep checking back!

In addition to the NACAC survey, colleges still accepting applications may be found by searching the College Board, Common Application and Universal College Application (UCA) websites (specific instructions are found here). As of May 11, 2019, the Common App shows 430 members still open to new applicants, including Christopher Newport University, Eckerd College (FL), the Florida Institute of Technology, Jacksonville University (FL), North Carolina State University (NC), “Ole Miss,” St. John’s College (MD/NM), Stetson University (FL), the University of Missouri (MO), Widener University (PA) and Xavier University (OH).

The bottom line is that you need to move quickly.  Colleges will only entertain applications as long as they have space available.

And for the most up-to-date information on specific colleges, contact the admissions offices of the schools directly. You may be surprised how glad they are to hear from you!

Quick Takes From Wittenberg University (OH)

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Quick Takes From Wittenberg University

The ONE Thing

While students enjoy summer break, Wittenberg will continue in its efforts to enhance its student-centered, living-learning environment by investing more than $1 million to renovate and upgrade several facilities on campus, including two residence halls, the natatorium, the McClain Center for Diversity, and the Matthies House, home of the university’s Honors Program, as well as installing new LED lighting consistent with Wittenberg’s commitment to sustainability. LEARN MORE

Important Dates

July 8: New Student Orientation*
July 12: New Student Orientation*
July 13: New Student Orientation*
July 19: New Student Orientation*
July 29-30: Ohio Six College Tour
*All new students must attend one Orientation session

Did You Know?

Wittenberg University participates in the Ohio Six College Tour, an opportunity for prospective students to explore some of the nation’s finest liberal arts colleges in Ohio. Students can visit up to four schools during this special two-day event in July, including Wittenberg, College of Wooster, Denison University, Kenyon College, Oberlin College, and Ohio Wesleyan University. We encourage rising juniors and seniors to register now! LEARN MORE
P.O. Box 720, Springfield, OH 45501


Teen Life: Volunteer Abroad and Make an Impact on Others

An Impactful Way
to Volunteer Abroad

ARCC Programs - Teen Life Landing Page Hero 05142019

Save $1000 on Meaningful Service & Adventure Travel with ARCC

How do you create a summer that you’ll never forget? You get a group of like-minded peers, take them to a spectacular destination, become deeply immersed in the local culture through service, sprinkle in a little dose of thrilling adventure and have a life-changing experience!

For 36 years, ARCC Programs has provided impactful experiences for teenagers in some of the world’s most incredible locations. By combining meaningful, authentic, community service with the thrill of international travel, students are able to experience local cultures and unique perspectives rarely seen by the average tourist. Our unique partnerships around the world with local communities, non-profits, schools, animal rehabilitation centers, and other organizations allow our projects to be as meaningful for the communities we visit as they are for our students.

With summer right around the corner, we are thrilled to be able to offer some incredible discounts to TeenLife subscribers on some of our most impactful summer programs. Apply online at and use the code “TeenLife1000” to save $1000 off the programs below!


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China: The Great Wall to the Himalayas
From the modern metropolis of Beijing to rice farming villages in Western China, immerse yourself in a country where modern culture and ancient history meet.

Session 1: July 2 – July 22 
Save $1,000
Was: $5,495 

Now: $4,495

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Costa Rica: Classic Service Adventure
Experience the rich beauty and culture of this majestic nation as you explore Costa Rica with a meaningful blend of adventure and service.

Session 2: July 15 – July 28 
Session 3: August 1 – August 14
Save $1,000
Was: $3,895 

Now: $2,895

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Costa Rica: Wildlife Conservation
Designed for those with the biggest hearts ready to leave their mark on communities and aid wildlife in need by participating in two distinct service projects for the quintessential Costa Rican service learning experience.

Session 2: July 18 – July 31
Save $1,000
Was: $3,895 

Now: $2,395

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Cuba: Making History
Discover this beautiful island nation, teeming in color and passion and become part of a Cuban community as you work alongside locals on projects that will impact them for years to come.

Session1: June 28 – July 11 
Session 2: July 14 – July 27 
Session 3: July 30 – August 12
Save $1,000 
Was: $4,395 
Now: $3,395

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India: The Himalayan Project
Immerse yourself in India’s rich cultural heritage as you explore this colorful nation from the bustling streets of Delhi to the majesty of the Himalayan mountain range to the splendor of the Taj Mahal.

Session 1: June 30 – July 20
Save $1,000
Was: $4,995 

Now: $3,995

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Peru: Sacred Valley Service 
Discover a land bursting with ancient wonders of the world, friendly people and living history. Immerse yourself in the life of a Quechua villager, working hand-in-hand with the locals to improve their quality of life. 

Session 1: July 2 – July 15 
Session 2: July 18 – July 31
Save $1,000
Was: $3,995

Now: $2,995

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Southeast Asia: Grassroots Initiatives
Travel into the heart of Southeast Asia to explore the region’s rich history, beautiful cultures and breathtaking natural beauty as you engage with local communities through rich community service projects.

Session 1: June 30 – July 31
Save $1,000
Was: $5,995

Now: $4,995

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Thailand: Hill Tribe Impact
From the bustling metropolis of Bangkok to the lush wilderness of the Thai jungle, immerse yourself in an experience not soon to be forgotten as you volunteer on important community drive service projects.

Session 1: July 18 – July 31
Save $1,000
Was: $3,995 

Now: $2,995






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Congratulations to Dr. Ed Alexander and Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program (CA)

News from Dr. Edward Alexander, Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program Director, San Diego Mesa College

As we enter the last month of Spring semester 2019, Lynn Lee, Bridges Program Assistant, and I wish to update you on exciting news and positive achievements about our Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program for 2018-2019.

First, I was nominated by Daphne Figueroa, Professor of Chemistry at SD Miramar College to receive the Camille and Henry Dreyfus ACS Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students into Careers in the Chemical Sciences.  On April 2, I was one of sixty national award recipients honored at the 2019 National American Chemical Society Meeting and Exposition in Orlando, FL, including K. Barry Sharpless, the 2001 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry.  Over 600 were in attendance at the awards ceremony and banquet.  As part of the award, the Foundation has provided San Diego Mesa College $10,000 to establish a scholarship fund of my designation for disadvantaged students pursuing careers in the Chemical Sciences.

Second, at the same Spring 2019 ACS National Meeting, the Division of Organic Chemistry honored me with a very special symposium in which three Bridges alumnae, currently working on or completing PhD degrees, were invited to present their research with a postdoctoral fellow who is conducting research in the laboratory of our Bridges Co-PI, Christina Sigurdson, at UCSD.  The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)/NIH Director of Training Workforce Development and Diversity also presented with me at this awards symposium, with Daphne Figueroa presiding.  The presenters and their abstract titles are:  Patricia Aguilar Calvo, PhD, UCSD—Role of heparin sulfate in prion replication and cell targetingMireille Kamariza, PhD, Stanford University, postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University—Towards Mycobacterium tuberculosis detection at the point-of-car:  solvatochromic probes permits the detection of mycobacteria within minutesAbdiasis Hussein, University of Washington, Seattle—Regulation of mTOR dependent entry and exit from diapause-like stateSonjiala Hotchkiss, UCSD—Development of small molecule inhibitors of IKK-2Alison Gammie, PhD, NIGMS/NIH—Diversity and Inclusion in the Biomedical Workforce; Edward Alexander, PhD, SD Mesa College—My Success in Encouraging Disadvantaged Students into Careers in the Chemical Sciences Using Mentoring and Research in Organic Chemistry.

Our Bridges Alumni continue to excel in our thirteenth year of the Bridges grant:

Dean Elhag, awarded MD degree, University of Iowa, Carver College of Medicine (May 2018), medical residency internal medicine, University of Utah

Tarrell Coley, awarded MD degree, University of Maryland (May 2018), medical residency emergency medicine, Pittsburg, PA

Samantha Barrera, awarded BS in Chemistry, San Diego State University (Nov. 2018), employed as research chemist at Trilink Biotechnoligies making m-RNA

Fernando Echegaray, awarded BS, Cornell University (Dec. 2018), studying for graduate/medical school

We thank all of you for your continued support.  Special thanks goes to our SD Mesa College Chemistry Department, Dean Susan Topham, Mary I. Toste, Luisa Falo, Erica Garcia, Maggie Haddad, Virginia Enriquez, and Pablo Vela.

Marist’s (NY) Summer Pre-College Programs

There are still spots available in Marist’s Summer 2019 Pre-College Programs!

What is Marist Summer Pre-College?

- An academic program offered to rising high school juniors and seniors

- 19 different courses offered on our Poughkeepsie campus

- 2 commuter-based courses offered at Marist’s NYC Executive Center

- 2 or 4 week options available

- Students will earn 3 to 6 transferable college credits

Students can get a head start on college and benefit from the following:

- Collaborative learning environment

- Meeting like-minded students from around the world

- Small classroom setting led by Marist faculty

Have your interested students apply today to secure their spot in the 2019 Marist Summer Pre-College Program!

For more information, including a list of programs, visit

Milena Carrese ’13/’18M

Senior Assistant Director of Admission

Connect With Us:
Contact Info:

Marist College

Office of Undergraduate Admission

3399 North Rd

Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

Phone: 845.575.3226


Summer Ideas from Teen Life

Ideas for the summer!

Summer programs are a great way to gain an edge on the competition. Whether it’s an overnight pre-college program, a local day camp, or sleep away camp, attending a summer program is a fantastic way to pursue new interests, improve existing skills, and make new friends.  TeenLife has researched and curated the best summer activities and the best camps for teens in middle and high school. Here are some of our favorites!

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St. John’s College Summer Academy, Annapolis Pre-College

The Summer Academy offers participants a rich experience reading and discussing original texts in lively conversations led by St. John’s professors. Through collaborative inquiry, students learn to listen actively and articulate their ideas. Learn More!

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Duke University Youth Programs

Duke Youth Programs, a part of Duke University Continuing Studies, has provided summer academic enrichment for academically motivated youth for over 35 years. Each summer approximately 650 youth from around the nation and world, representing some 22 states and 5 different countries, attend one of our summer programs. Learn More!


iD Tech Camps for Kids and Teens

This summer, teens can explore a top campus, make friends as they master tech skills, and join a community of 400,000 alumni. Build in-demand skills in coding, game development, robotics, and design. Top universities on the planet—Stanford, NYU, Caltech—have hosted our programs for over 20 years. Held at 130+ locations. Learn More!


Pre-Med & Science | Summer Pre-College Program for High School Students at Wagner College

This Medicine and Science Program track is designed to introduce students to the practice of medicine in our society while providing them with both lecture and hands-on clinical skills and practicing real life medical scenarios. Learn More!

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Wheaton College (MA): Two 2019 Summer Pre-College Programs

Wheaton College Massachusetts
We are still accepting applications to our pre-college summer programs on a rolling basis. In the Global Leaders Program (June 29th – July 12th), your students will be introduced to the power of social innovation through a liberal arts context and explore how to turn ideas into action. In the Business and Technology Immersion Experience (July 6th – Aug 2nd), your students will earn college credit in one of two courses and immerse themselves into academic life on a college campus, including our state-of-the-art makerspaces.
Please be advised that limited financial aid is available to students that qualify.
I encourage you to send along the opportunity of a lifetime to a student that comes to mind!
Isabelle Byusa
Director, Youth Development Programs
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Coe College (IA) Offers Music Industry and Pre-Music Therapy

We have exciting news for students pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Music.
Coe College is now offering emphasis areas in music industry and pre-music therapy.

Possible career opportunities include:

  • Booking agent
  • Publicist
  • Live sound technician
  • Music therapist
  • And more!
These programs will prepare students for application to a music therapy certification program or introduce them to core business skills and audio technology necessary in the broader music industry. Students even will have the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned at a student-run record label.

Please share these exciting new opportunities with interested students and visit to learn more about a music major at Coe.

Areas of Study  |  Scholarships  |  Financial Aid  |  Schedule a Visit

Office of Admission
1220 First Ave NE  |  Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52402
877.CALL.COE  |  319.399.8500  |