Harvard University Pennants
A waning number of high school graduates from the Midwest is sparking a college hunt for freshman applicants, with the decline being felt as far away as Harvard and Emory universities.
The drop is the leading edge of a demographic change that is likely to ease competition for slots at selective schools and is already prompting concern among Midwestern colleges.
“You can’t create 18-year-olds in a lab,” said Brian Prescott, director of policy research at the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education in Boulder, Colorado. “Enrollment managers are facing an awful lot of pressure that they can’t do much about.”
Nationally, the high school Class of 2012 ushered in a first wave of declines in the number of graduates, according to a report by the commission. The trend will worsen after 2025, when admissions officers face the impact of a drop in births that began with the 2007 recession. Over the next two decades, the biggest drain in graduates will be in the Midwest and Northeast. The demographic shifts are compounded by economic factors as the cost of higher education continues to rise.