- Wet Ink
- Men’s Sports
- Women’s Sports
- Club & Intramural Sports
- Out of Bounds
- Campus Map
- Contact Us
Pennsylvania is experiencing a decreasing number of high school graduates and studies show that the declining trend will affect Pennsylvania universities.
Indiana University of Pennsylvania began seeing the effects of the declining demographics this 2013-14 academic year. IUP’s division of enrollment, management and communications predicts that IUP will see a 579 student decrease in this year’s enrollment, down from the 15,379 students enrolled in the fall of 2012. The division has not yet released the exact enrollment numbers for fall 2013.
After an uninterrupted climb from 1993 to 2008, Pennsylvania’s high school graduating class sizes reached their peak at 150,000 in the 2009-10 academic year, according to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.
WICHE, in its 2012 Pennsylvania report, projected the number of high school graduates to decline to as little as 136,000 over the next seven years. Growth, including both public and nonpublic school graduates, is not projected to return until the 2019-20 academic year, according to the WICHE report.
Sherri Zimmerman, assistant professor at the administration and leadership studies research and training center for IUP, attributes the declining demographics to what she calls “the baby boomer cycle.”
“The baby boomer generation has now had children who went to college,” Zimmerman said, “so that bubble in population growth is moving through the system. So what we’re going to see is what follows that bubble historically, and that is the decline in population growth, particularly a decline in high school graduates.”
Illustrating the decline in high school graduates is the fact that Pennsylvanians are getting older, according to reports from the Pennsylvania State Data Center. The median age of Pennsylvanians has consistently remained around 40 years of age since 2010. In 2000, the median age was 38.
The number of school-age Pennsylvania residents is declining according to the PaSDC. In 2010, the population of residents under 18 was 2,792,155, and in 2011, it fell to 2,037,273, a 27 percent decrease.
Although the decline in high school graduates has been evident over the past few years, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education universities began seeing its effects two years ago. The decrease correlates directly to declining enrollment within Pennsylvania universities. Because the number of high school graduates is declining, the number of students attending universities is decreasing as well.
PASSHE reports show that the decline in high school graduates began to effect PASSHE universities in the 2011- 12 academic year.
After 14 years of record growth, according to a 2012 PASSHE financial report, fall enrollment dropped to 118,224 in fall 2011 from 119,513 in fall 2010, a decline of 1,289 students and a 1 percent decrease.
To combat the effects of the decrease in enrollment, Zimmerman recommends appealing to the career interests of potential students.
“We need to understand what jobs are actually out there and what the students are looking for in terms of the knowledge and skills they need to compete for those jobs,” Zimmerman said.
IUP is not the only university affected by declining demographics. After enrolling 9,483 students during the 2011- 12 academic year, California University of Pennsylvania saw a 875-student decrease in the 2012-13 academic year when enrollment declined to 8,608, according to Wei Zhou, Ph.D., director of institutional research and planning at CalU.
Projections show, according to Zhou, that the 2013-14 academic year is going to see yet another decline and will enroll 8,286 students–a 322 student decrease.
Correlating directly with the PASSHE report, Lock Haven University has suffered a decline as well.
After seeing a 122-student increase between the 2009-10 and 2010-11 academic years, Lock Haven University’s enrollment was listed at 5,328 in 2012- 13 from 5,366 in 2011-12. Although there are no future projections, John Abplanalp, Institutional Data Manager at LHU, said he is not hopeful.
Given the competition for new students, according to Abplanalp, “we are expecting to have flat enrollment.”
The declining trend in demographics is projected to continue, according to the WICHE report, and that trend is likely to continue to affect enrollment in PASSHE universities.
What this means for IUP, according to Zimmerman, is that IUP will be faced with “greater challenges in trying to compete with other universities.”
“As we go to compete with a smaller pool of candidates,” Zimmerman said, “I think that we can expect that enrollment will likely decline unless we can begin to fine-tune what it is that high school graduates are looking for as they take their next step.”