Don’t Turn It Around. Change It.

Jun 25, 2018 by

The questions to ask about enrollment.

Matt Reed –

“What are you going to do to turn around our falling enrollments?”

Lots of boards ask this of prospective presidents. It’s the wrong question.

It’s understandable; certainly, if a turnaround were in the offing, it would make a lot of financial issues go away. Growth forgives many sins. And the growth period for community colleges nationally was long enough that many people assumed implicitly that growth is normal and natural.  Demographic tailwinds can make even mediocre leaders look smart.

But since about 2010, enrollments have been dropping, and they’re likely to fall off a cliff around 2026. That’s because birthrates fell off a cliff in 2008, and 2008 plus 18 equals 2026. When I opined last week that part of the issue with birthrates is that parenthood has become crazily expensive, many folks responded that the real issue is women’s wage levels; as those climb, fertility drops.  To which I say, that’s true at a macro level, but obviously inapplicable to 2008. Wages did not jump in the Great Recession. Besides, I’d much rather make parenthood easier than try to turn back the clock.

Which brings me back to boards.

Source: Don’t Turn It Around. Change It. | Confessions of a Community College Dean

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