Mt. Vernon Register-News

Top News

February 25, 2014

Dwindling Midwest high school grads spur college hunt

— Ident: X6526

Selector: tmlaa

Priority: r

Slug: bc-college-midwest

bc-college-midwest 02-25 1030

(bbg) (ATTN: National editors)

One photo (TPN)

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, Colo. "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.

"We are attempting to leave no stone unturned in our primary market," said Ken Anselment, dean of admissions and financial aid at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisc. "Demographics are not working real well in the Midwest."

Harvard University said it had a 2.1 percent drop in applications for the next school year, led by a 5.8 percent fall-off from the Midwest. Atlanta-based Emory University reported a 3.3 percent decrease from the region, while Dartmouth College, in Hanover, N.H., attributed a 14 percent slide in total applications partly to a 20 percent drop from the Midwest. The decline at Dartmouth was the biggest in 21 years.

Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., is projecting an 8 percent drop from the region and 11 percent overall.

The migration of manufacturing out of the Midwest, coupled with a declining birth rate, is leaving a mark on regional high schools. The Midwest is headed for a 7.2 percent decline of graduates in the Class of 2014, almost 55,000 fewer than its peak year of 2008, which had about 772,000, according to projections in the report.

Oberlin College, known for its conservatory of music, is projecting about 2 percent fewer applicants than last year, led by about a 20 percent decline in its home state of Ohio. Oberlin, which draws almost a quarter of its students from the Midwest, has seen the trend coming and has tried to prepare, said Debra Chermonte, dean of admissions and financial aid.

The school has been offering more personal attention to high school counselors, especially in the Midwest, such as inviting them to concerts and boosting marketing in the South and Southwest, where populations are growing.

Anticipating changes in demographics, about a half dozen private schools in Ohio, including Oberlin, began jointly promoting their campuses about six years ago.

Denison University, in Granville, and the College of Wooster both project about a 13 percent drop from within the state. Ohio residents make up about a quarter of Denison's student body and about a third at Wooster. Denison and Ohio Wesleyan University have boosted travel outside the state to attract prospective students, especially in California and the Southwest.

"It's been a wake-up call this year," said Alisha Couch, director of admission at the Delaware, Ohio-based school. "There's just not as many names out there in Ohio."

The trend hasn't extended to Kenyon College, in Gambier, Ohio, which said it's seeing more applications this year from every region. The school, where about 14 percent of the student body comes from Ohio, dropped an extra writing supplement from its application process, according to Bev Morse, associate dean of admissions.

Lawrence, a private school 190 miles north of Chicago, expects applications to be little changed from last year at about 2,700, Anselment said. About half the student body comes from Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota.

"Since most students are going to college within 100 to 150 miles from home, we want to make sure we're part of the conversation," Anselment said. "We started more aggressively reaching out to juniors and sophomores in our primary market than we have been in the past."

Some colleges are planting regional representatives in large cities such as Chicago.

Marquette University in Milwaukee added a second enrollment staff member in the Chicago area to work with students, parents and college counselors, said Robert Blust, dean of admissions.

"It's certainly to solidify our market in Chicago," Blust said. The school receives the most applications from Illinois, followed by Wisconsin. Its applications are up 9 percent this year to more than 25,000, he said.

Larger schools aren't immune to the shortfall in students and even some in the Ivy League are seeing declining applications as high school graduate numbers dwindle in both the Midwest and Northeast.

Harvard, based in Cambridge, Mass., received 5.1 percent fewer applications from the Northeast. New York-based Columbia University cited demographic changes as a reason for a 1.7 percent drop in total applications at undergraduate schools Columbia College and the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

 "Regional differences matter," Harvard said in a Feb. 3 statement. "In the Northeast, where many peer selective private and public colleges already vie for the attention of an increasingly limited number of students, there likely will be decreases in applications at most colleges in the future."

While total applications at Duke University rose 2 percent, the number from the Midwest declined by less than 1 percent, according to Christoph Guttentag, dean of undergraduate admissions for the Durham, N.C.-based school. The number of students seeking admission to Emory rose about 1 percent, offsetting the Midwest decline, according to preliminary data, said spokeswoman Beverly Cox Clark.

Amy Belstra, a college counselor at Libertyville High School in suburban Chicago, said her students have noticed the increased attention from college recruiters.

"Chicago-area kids have always been a popular commodity," Belstra said. "There are some lovely options in our backyard and they are trying to make themselves as attractive as possible."

 

1
Text Only
Top News
  • Doctors to rate cost effectiveness of expensive cancer drugs

    The world's largest organization of cancer doctors plans to rate the cost effectiveness of expensive oncology drugs, and will urge physicians to use the ratings to discuss the costs with their patients.

    April 16, 2014

  • bomb1 VIDEO: A year after marathon bombing, Boston remains strong

    The City of Boston came together Tuesday to honor those who were injured and lost their lives at the Boston Marathon on the one-year anniversary of the bombing. While the day was sure to be emotional, those affected by last year's race are showing they won't let the tragedy keep them down.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Search teams will send unmanned sub to look for missing Malaysian airliner

    Teams searching for a missing Malaysian airliner are planning for the first time to send an unmanned submarine into the depths of the Indian Ocean to look for wreckage, an Australian official leading the multi-nation search said Monday.

    April 14, 2014

  • 25801486.jpg VIDEO: Northern California bus crash kills 10

    At least nine people died in Northern California on Thursday night, in an accident involving a bus, a car and FedEx truck. The bus was filled with high school students from Southern California who were on their way to visit a college campus.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • VIDEO: CBS taps Colbert as Letterman’s Late Show successor

    Bloomberg’s Jon Erlichman reports that CBS has announced Stephen Colbert as its choice to replace the retiring David Letterman as host of “The Late Show” on Bloomberg Television’s “Lunch Money.”

     

    April 10, 2014

  • Teen stabs 20 at Pittsburgh-area high school

    MURRYSVILLE, Pa. (AP) — Flailing away with two knives, a 16-year-old boy with a "blank expression" stabbed and slashed 19 students and a police officer in the crowded halls of his suburban Pittsburgh high school Wednesday before an assistant principal tackled him.

    April 9, 2014

  • Fast, cheap test can help save lives of many babies

    As Easley did more research into her daughter's death, she learned that a pilot program had started just months earlier at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Md. (Easley had delivered at a different hospital in the Washington area.) The program's goal was to screen every newborn with a simple pulse oximeter test that can help detect heart problems such as Veronica's, allowing doctors to respond.

    April 8, 2014

  • 297px-Starbucks_Corporation_Logo_2011.svg.png Why Starbucks won't recycle your paper coffee cup

    When you drop that used white paper cup into the bin next to the door at a Starbucks, have you done your part to save the planet? Starbucks has long hoped that you would think so. After all, there's no better way to attract an affluent, eco-conscious clientele than to convince customers that your disposable product is "renewable."

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Don't blame voters for low turnout

    Suppose nobody votes this year. On Nov. 4 the doors to the polling places are thrown open, and there isn't anyone in line. No absentee ballots are filed. No one litigates, charging either fraud or discrimination, because there weren't any voters.
    It won't happen. But if it did, pundits and activists would surely blame public apathy for such a catastrophe. I'd name a different culprit: the major parties, their candidates and their acolytes in the news media.

    April 4, 2014

  • Former McDonald's store managers say they withheld employees' wages

    Two former McDonald's store managers, assisting with a campaign to raise pay for fast-food workers, said they helped withhold employees' wages at the restaurant chain after facing pressure to keep labor costs down.

    April 2, 2014

AP Video