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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Redrawing the College Map
By Jennifer Steinhauer

Consider Florida, whose overall population has doubled since 1980. With more than 57,000 students, Miami Dade College is the country’s largest degree-granting institution, after the University of Phoenix Online. Enrollment in the state university system has increased by more than 80,000 in 10 years, and 3 of its 11 palm-studded campuses have student bodies exceeding 40,000. The University of Florida at Gainesville enrolls 49,725 students, and admits roughly half its applicants.

“We had about 12,000 applications from children of alumni alone, and we only have space for 6,600” freshmen, says Janie M. Fouke, the provost. “So you have to turn them away, and they are flabbergasted. We have to get our message clear to help people understand that it is not going to be a slam dunk to getting people in here.”

Even backup choices are safety schools no longer, as top students rejected by top schools squeeze out B students. The “slightly lower-tier flagship public land-grant school that your average solid high school student in each state could have banked on, well, those days are gone,” says Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.

So what is the strategy for college-bound students over the next several years?

In theory, it is to apply to colleges in states losing young people, like Vermont, Maine or the Dakotas.

“In states with low capacity, look for places with tuition benefits like the ones the state provides,” Mr. Longanecker says. “North Dakota will give you a hell of a deal. My guess is in the future, there will be some pretty good deals in Midwestern universities.”

The New York Times
Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

Related GIS & Data:
NCES - Digest of Education Statistics
NCES - Data Analysis System (DAS)