Enrollment at American colleges dipped this spring for the third year in a row as older students returned to an improving job market, but private four-year colleges bucked the trend with a slight uptick in their numbers, according to a report released on Thursday by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
Over all, enrollment was down 0.8 percent this spring, compared with last spring, far less than the 2.3-percent decline over the previous one-year period.
The steepest drop, at 4.9 percent, occurred at four-year for-profit colleges, while enrollment at two-year public colleges fell by 2.7 percent. Enrollment inched up by 0.7 percent at four-year public institutions and by 2 percent at four-year private nonprofit colleges.
The report breaks down enrollment trends by sector, gender, age, and part-time versus full-time status. It covers 96 percent of enrollment at degree-granting colleges that receive federal student aid.
Most of the declines were for students over age 24, whose numbers fell by nearly 6 percent at community colleges this spring. <Read more.>