Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

This project began with an invitation from Bev Nagel, Carleton College’s dean of the college, to serve in her office as associate dean of the college from 2009 through 2012. Her invitation set me off in completely new scholarly directions through the administrative problems encountered while working in that role. Once the work was under way, I received invaluable feedback from Jenny Bourne and participants in the St. Olaf–Carleton seminar on socioeconomic inequality. Expert input was generously provided by colleagues at Carleton and other colleges. Bev, Steve Poskanzer, and Paul Thiboutot (Carleton College) and Scott Bierman...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-4

In recent years, pessimistic forecasters have made a cottage industry telling stories of higher education’s impending collapse under the weight of looming demographic change. As if it were not enough that demographic trends have steadily nudged the population toward subgroups with weak attachments to higher education, the Great Recession caused birth rates to plummet almost 13 percent in just five years. (Chapters 1 and 2 document the trends most relevant for higher education demand.) In light of these intense pressures, the dominant narrative...

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1. Demographic Headwinds for Higher Education

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pp. 5-20

Everyone in higher education agrees that dramatic shifts in demand lie ahead, but few seem to understand their situation with the clarity required for decisive action. This is hardly surprising given the contradictory signals: geographic, birth rate, and race/ethnicity trends point toward fewer future college students, while rising parental education suggests movement in the opposite direction. And none of the available forecasts makes an attempt to weight students by their probability of college attendance, much less by their attendance at an institution of any particular type. As any admissions officer can confirm, while...

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2. Demographics as Destiny?

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pp. 21-26

The demographic trends and forecasts presented in chapter 1 are surely sobering to many higher education leaders. Clearly, we must anticipate shifts in the college-aged population away from geographic and race/ethnicity subgroups that are well connected with higher education and toward those that have low postsecondary schooling attendance rates. Many have looked at these population forecasts and have drawn the conclusion of a January 24, 2014, Chronicle of Higher Education cover story: “Colleges, Here is Your Future.” Or, as McGee puts...

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3. The Higher Education Demand Index

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pp. 27-43

Grounded in an understanding of major demographic trends that inform the model, this chapter presents a conceptual overview of the Higher Education Demand Index. (For a detailed discussion of variable definitions and methods, consult the methodological appendix.) First, the model is explained and key assumptions are explored. Then, using data from the 2000 Census, the model is tested by comparing its predictions to the populations and college attendance levels actually observed at the national and state/city level over the subsequent...

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4. Changing Contours of Population and Aggregate Higher Education Demand

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pp. 44-57

The first application of the Higher Education Demand Index will be to the broadest measures of potential demand: college-aged population and postsecondary enrollment. The argument made in earlier chapters is that the breadth of these measures makes them of relatively little use to institutional decision makers. Nevertheless, the forecasts presented in this chapter serve three purposes. First, some national policy questions are informed by these large aggregates. For example, concerns about rising income inequality may lead to expansions of subsidies with the goal of increasing college attendance...

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5. Demand for Two-Year Programs

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pp. 58-67

Having established baseline predictions for the college-aged and broad college-going populations, we can now use the Higher Education Demand Index for its true purpose: to construct a more refined analysis based on collegegoing probabilities applied to more narrowly defined institutional groups, beginning with predictions for two-year colleges. This subset of the higher education industry has contributed more than proportionately to the increase in college attendance during the past three decades. Since 1973, the earliest date for which the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports figures, the share of...

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6. Demand for Four-Year Institutions

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pp. 68-86

We now turn to the use of the Higher Education Demand Index at four-year colleges and universities, the sector that has dramatically grown during the second half of the twentieth century and is, indeed, what much of the population thinks of as simply “college.” The last 75 years were golden years for this sector of higher education. The percentage of individuals ages 25 to 29 who hold a bachelor’s degree has increased from just more than 5 percent in 1940 to more than 35 percent in 2016 (NCES 2016, table 104.20). During the same period, the high school degree was transformed from a distinguishing achievement into something quite...

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7. Is Anyone Paying for All of This?

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pp. 87-97

While our Higher Education Demand Index predictions make it clear that the demographic outlook for the four-year sector, and especially for elite and even less prestigious national colleges and universities, may be much more optimistic than less nuanced analyses suggest, we must address another question that is foremost in most discussions: How helpful is it to have large numbers of potential students if they cannot make significant contributions toward the cost of the education they receive? Pointing to the demographic shifts ahead, Blumenstyk (2015) takes a pessimistic view: “[Demographic shifts] mean more of...

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8. Coping with Change: Strategies for Institutional Response

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pp. 98-112

Given the Higher Education Demand Index data, what is a college president (or admission vice president) to do? As demographic trends transform the higher education landscape over the next 15 years, institutions would do well to take McGee’s (2016) perspective: “[T]he changing conditions reshaping the world of higher education in America should lead us neither to gloom nor to despair but rather to the pursuit of opportunity and advantage” (143). Colleges and universities that choose to view enrollment shifts as a challenge whose solution could make them stronger will do much better than those that take a less proactive stance....

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9. Anticipated Higher Education Attendance: The Policymaker’s Perspective

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pp. 113-125

After five chapters focusing on the perspective of higher education institutions, this chapter shifts to consider the implications for the nation and its workforce preparation. It is important to note that this new topic requires that we turn much of the analysis inside out. Specifically, the previous chapters explore forecasts of the number and composition of students who will matriculate to college campuses and the demographic makeup of the college-going population. Much of the analysis answered questions of the form: What fraction of attenders are from such-and-such group? While policymakers are not uninterested in the...

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10. The Potential for Policy to Affect Attendance Rates

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pp. 126-134

On the heels of the Great Recession, economic and educational inequalities have received greater attention in academic, policy, and media discussions. Interest in inequality is hardly surprising given the differences in educational attainment across race/ethnicity, family income, and parent education documented in chapter 9. Higher Education Demand Index forecasts in chapter 9 suggest that we should not count on exogenous increases in overall attendance rates or on a reduction in educational gaps across groups; demographic change and time, on their own, will not cure what ails us. Thankfully, the HEDI is only...

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11. Looking beyond 2030

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pp. 135-138

Because they are based on observed children in the 2011 American Community Survey, the Higher Education Demand Index forecasts are inherently limited to extend no further than 2029, when the youngest children in the survey reach college-going age. In a literal sense, nothing can be ruled out in the years 2030 and beyond. That is unfortunate because while the resulting estimates provide plenty for higher education administrators to think about over the next decade, some strategies for handling coming demographic change may make more or less sense depending on what we think will happen beyond the...

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Methodological Appendix

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pp. 139-154

The forecasted demand for higher education is a probability-weighted average of projected headcounts. More formally, the expected demand for college of institutional type j from state or metropolitan locality l in year t (denoted as Djlt) is given by where Pj (.) is the probability that someone of a given demographic type achieves outcome j, N18lt(.) is the number of 18-year-olds of that demographic profile living in locality l in cohort t, s is sex, r is race/ethnicity, d captures census division and urban/...

Notes

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pp. 155-162

References

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pp. 163-168

Index

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pp. 169-176