The coronavirus pandemic changed American society and economy significantly, such as the emergence of remote work, homeschooling or other non-public school education options. But one major trend is that fewer college-aged individuals are choosing to attend a four-year higher education institution than before.
ABC News reported that the younger generation is skeptical of the high cost associated with attending a four-year institution. The mainstream media outlet focused on the western Tennessee city of Jackson, located 70 miles east of Memphis.
Several of the interviewed local residents said that college was too expensive and that they want to avoid debt. The availability of jobs that do not require a college degree also convinced them not to go to college.
Overall, enrollment in a four-year undergraduate degree fell by 8% from 2019 to 2022, showing that the pandemic affected enrollment figures. According to the federal government, this decline is the steepest on record. The data also discovered that those who delayed college enrollment may be less likely to do so after a year or two.
For Jackson residents, there is a decrease in college enrollees. In 2019, six in ten high school graduates went to college. In 2021, that figure is down to four in ten.
Tennessee is in scramble mode as data demonstrated that 54% of high school graduates enrolled in college in 2021, even though the state made community college free for residents, which is the lowest figure since 2009.
ABC News pointed out that other states have similar issues, such as Arkansas seeing a 7% drop from 49% to 42% during the pandemic or Indiana’s 12-point decrease between 2015 and 2020.