Nationally Declining Enrollment Rates


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Brooke Kruger, Opinion Writer

With the prevalence of Covid-19, colleges are experiencing drastically declining enrollment rates. In Fall 2020, the declining enrollment rate almost doubled across the nation in comparison to 2019. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, overall postsecondary enrollments decreased by 3.6%, or 560, 200 students in one year.  

With the pandemic continuing, there is no predicted turnaround for the undergraduate enrollment declines, and 2021 enrollments are expected to continue steeply downwards. One of the main reasons for 2021’s predicted enrollment declines, is tuition prices.  

During the 2021 year, students have been robbed of the traditional university experience. Although this was at no fault of the university, students were expected to pay for a normal year, while receiving none of the university’s best features. The University of North Dakota explained on their website that “in an effort to minimize confusion during the remote instruction period, there will be no changes to how tuition and fees are calculated”. Although the entire world is currently confusing and different, most universities chose to keep their payment the same for a quarter of the experience.  

Even if students are considered “on-campus” students, they could most likely get away with attending the university completely online from home. But because they are being offered the slightest face-to-face assistance, they are required to pay the full on-campus tuition. As many students have experienced, “on-campus” classes that were considered “hybrid” have been mostly conducted online with very little in-person implementation. They sometimes offer in-person access to the professor, but most choose to run office hours and instruction over Zoom. When some courses have been offered as hybrid options, students usually are given the choice to attend in-person or completely online if they wish, to accommodate their level of comfort with the pandemic and face-to-face interaction with the rest of the university population.  

On-campus students are still paying for full access for facilities that offer limited access. At UND, Archives Coffee House has offered shorter hours, Wellness Center classes offered very limited space, spectators were rarely allowed at popular sporting events in the fall semester, and students were forced to take all of their UND dining meals to-go, back to their dorm rooms.  

Students were expected to pay full price for parking passes that they might have been able to use only once a week. They didn’t get the experience of having their first college roommate or attending their first Fighting Hawks hockey game. Their lab classes are learned and watched through a camera on the off days that students rotate through the classroom with their partner.  

Although college enrollment has been on the decline for the past decade, it has the potential to plummet as we universities approach the 2021 fall semester, especially when they are offering so little for such a high price.  


Brooke Kruger is a Dakota Student News Editor. She can be reached at [email protected]