Fewer Students, More Diversity: The Shifting Demographics of High School Graduates

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WICHE’s 9th edition of Knocking at the College Door: Projections of High School Graduates, released in December 2016, describes substantial demographic changes among U.S. youth for the next 15 years with critical implications for higher education, including:

  • How might states, colleges, and universities adjust (or reconsider) duplicate or undersubscribed programs as college-aged populations flatten or (as in the Midwest and Northeast) even shrink?
  • As minority high school students move toward being the majority (by the 2030s), are higher education institutions fully prepared to support racial and ethnic diversity, student success, and programming oriented toward shifting populations? 
  • With college-age populations growing in Southern states more than other regions, how might interstate migration and resident/nonresident tuition-setting be affected?
  • Are Western colleges and universities, used to inexorable population growth, prepared for a new reality?

These and other potential implications are suggested by the first edition of a new WICHE report series, Data Insights, titled, Fewer Students, More Diversity: The Shifting Demographics of High School Graduates. This is the first of several 2017 WICHE publications that will drill down on data highlights from the 2016 edition of Knocking on the College Door, the quadrennial WICHE publication that reflects the most complete available snapshot of U.S. college-age demographics.

I hope you find Data Insights valuable as you consider how best to navigate an ever-shifting landscape for higher education. I invite you to visit knocking.wiche.edu for the original Knocking on the College Door report, state-by-state data that allows you to compare your localized demographics with those of peer states and regions, and other WICHE policy and research work that provides valuable insights and distinct context on critical issues facing higher education.