The Impact of Demographics on Connecticut Public Colleges and Universities
For nearly two decades, the nations higher education community has watched with some trepidation the shrinking number of Americans of traditional college-going age (18 to 24 years old). As baby-boomers aged, the pool of potential college-age students diminished significantly. Now, in the mid-1990s, the demographic curve has begun to turn back up across the nation, causing a collective sigh of relief among the countrys college admissions officers. For Connecticut, however, the demographic picture is not nearly so bright, particularly for its public institutions of higher education.
Connecticut demographics, in many important ways, do not match those of the nation. The states population is older, with fewer child-rearing families and, thus, fewer children in the educational pipeline. Consequently, the number of persons in Connecticut between the ages of 25 and 34 is more directly linked to enrollments in public colleges and universities than is the number of persons 18 to 24 years of age. In addition, in the last five years, the state has lost population while other states have grown. These demographic differences portend little opportunity for enrollment growth at Connecticut public colleges and universities for years to come. Some pertinent facts:
These realities do not necessarily doom every Connecticut public college and university to a decade or more of declining enrollment. Other factors such as the college-going rates of Connecticut residents, the proportion of those who attend college in-state versus out-of-state, the attractiveness of Connecticut institutions to students from other states, the condition of the states economy, tuition and fee charges, and net costs to students all will impact enrollment of individual institutions. Yet, if the past linkage between demography and enrollment holds, it will not be easy for Connecticut public higher education, as a whole, to grow for some time to come.
(The research report Demographics and the Future Pool of Connecticut Students Available to Attend the States Public Colleges and Universities is available from the Department of Higher Education. Call (860) 947-1833.)