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Another thing to consider when it comes to LACs/SLACs is that in 5 years, high school graduates are going to drop 5-15%. The consequent enrollment drop is likely to especially hurt non-fancy teaching institutions, since more prestigious institutions will swallow up a greater percentage of graduates to keep their enrollments high. Higher ed is going to capsize in a big way when the "demographic cliff" hits.

Pretty soon Plan Bs will need to be Plan As.

Defense on the horizon


Why are HS graduates going to drop?

I agree with your remarks conditional on that claim. Another factor that I rarely see discussed is that Corona Times are essentially a dry run for seriously digitally blended teaching. Rich schools are going to learn how to do this (reasonably) successfully, and will have the infrastructure (or money for partnerships with major tech firms) to support this environment on a massively larger scale and at a lower per-student price point. I would expect their enrollments, in raw numbers, to go up big time as a result. The capsize will be even more dramatic than you're suggesting, I think.

To be honest, my 'Plan B' has been my Plan A for a while now. I think other late-stage grad students need to get in gear, and I hope they are doing so.

Defense on the horizon

(apologies for the double-post! Marcus, if you're willing and able to just combine this with my other post, you are welcome to.)

And thank you, Helen, for this informative post! I think I've heretofore been underutilizing LinkedIn. Need to get on that :)

Marcus Arvan

Hey Defense: college enrollment is expected to drop in some areas of the country by 5% and other areas 15% by 2025 because of a declining birthrate from the Great Recession. Here’s a summary with a map of which areas are expected to be hit the hardest: https://www.cupahr.org/issue/feature/higher-ed-enrollment-cliff/

Samuel Kampa

I left academia straight out of grad school and started a job in ed tech a year and a half ago. (I also contributed a piece on the Cocoon.) While I'm probably more concerned than Helen about the sheer number of graduate programs---and while I wonder whether the skills one picks up in a 6-year grad program compensate for the opportunity cost---I strongly agree with pretty much all of Helen's alt-ac prep advice. It's tough to give generalizable advice (since every industry is different), but this is the best high-level piece I've read on the topic. This should be required reading in first-year grad seminars! (I'm only half-joking.)

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