After 15 years of solid growth, overall college enrollment took a slight dip in fall 2011, according to a preliminary datareport from the U.S. Department of Education. The year-to-year drops in enrollment between 2010 and 2011 were not uniform across all levels of postsecondary education or all demographic populations.
While total college enrollment dropped from 21.588 million in fall 2010 to 21.554 million in 2011, enrollment did increase among Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, Multi-racial, and Nonresident Aliens. Only American Indians and Whites saw total enrollment declines.
Despite the report showing that total undergraduate enrollment fell from 18.65 million in 2010 to 18.62 million in 2011, total enrollment in four-year programs increased from 10.3 million in 2010 to 10.5 million in 2011. More men and women of almost all ethnicities are pursuing four-year degrees than they were in 2010; the only groups that had declining enrollment in four-year programs were those with an unknown ethnicity and a nonresident alien status.
The largest decreases could be found at two-year schools who saw their total enrollment from 7.8 million in 2010 to 7.6 million in 2011. The only populations who had enrollment increases at two-year institutions in 2011 were Hispanics and multi-racial. Programs that were less than two-years in duration also saw there enrollment drop from 404, 351 in 2010 to 398,961 in 2011.
Enrollment declines in programs under two-years long can be traced to the male population and the American Indian, Black, White, and unknown ethnicity demographic groups. Graduate student enrollment dropped from 2.937 million to 2.931 million, with declines in both male and female populations and the American Indian, Black, White, and unknown ethnicity demographic groups.
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