While this year’s admissions cycle may not be truly over until new students show up in the fall, many high schools and colleges can now see clear trends. Not surprisingly, the economy is having a real impact on student choices and behavior, according to a study released today by the National Association for College Admission Counseling.
The study is based on surveys conducted by NACAC of its member high schools and colleges — with officials at the former reporting on the students they advised through the application process, and the latter providing impressions of their applications process. (On the high school side, responses came disproportionately from private high schools, so while NACAC says the figures are valid when examined by sector, they cautioned against assuming that the average of public and private answers was some sort of national average. Another caution is that the questions refer to increases or decreases, not always to the magnitude of those shifts, so there could be significant variation among those answering the questions the same ways.)
Add up the above and the picture is one that presents challenges for both high schools and colleges. But the NACAC survey found that significant numbers of the offices that deal with the college admissions process are doing so in the context of budget cuts and staff reductions. Thirty-seven percent of public high schools saw budget cuts in the last academic year, and 14 percent of public high schools reported staff cuts. For private high schools, the comparable figures were 25 percent and 7 percent, respectively.
In higher education as well, the cuts were greater in admissions offices at public institutions (46 percent reporting cuts) than private (30 percent). The average public college admissions office lost 2.5 staff persons, compared to 1.5 staff persons in private colleges.