Demographic Boom & Bust

Elizabeth Redden:

A new national report projecting the size of high school graduating classes through 2022 finds that the rapid, sustained growth of graduates that began in the early 1990s ends this year, in 2007-8. A long-anticipated period of moderate declines in the number of graduates — and traditional-aged college applicants — is soon set to begin, which could increase competition among colleges and intensify financial pressures on tuition-dependent institutions.
“The second baby boom, if you will, it has come to an end this year,” said David A. Longanecker, president of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), which on Wednesday released its seventh edition of Knocking at the College Door.
But the report also projects enrollment patterns that are distinctly regional and, in some cases, state-specific (individual state profiles are available online). Generally speaking, the report projects expansion in the numbers of high school graduates in the South and West, drops in the Northeast and Midwest, and, nationally, explosive growth among non-white graduates, especially Hispanics, as the number of white youth falls.