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Colleges predicted to change recruiting to compete for fewer students

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) — Nearly 500 high schoolers spent the morning trying to narrow down which university they might like to attend.

It’s a high-stakes exercise for those schools, and the stakes will only get higher in the next few years.

Students at a northeast Indiana college fair know they might have to fight to be accepted into their preferred schools and programs.

But they also know it’s a two-way street, where universities might have to fight for them.

“Something I think about is how good is their graduation rate and what kind of students they want there and what kind of students go there?” Snider sophomore Audrey Smith says.

“I’m looking for more of an education major, and there are different schools that have more in-depth education for more of what I wanted. I’d also want more of a place that has intramural sports for me to do,” Snider sophomore Tyler Kaiser tells us.

Economists say in the coming years, higher education institutions will have to fight even harder for new students.

They say the recession of 2008 prompted dramatically fewer people to have babies.

Economists predict that by 2026, that college-age population will drop by 15%, meaning schools will really have to compete for those students — and their dollars.

University administrators tell us they’re already preparing for that by increasing or tweaking degree options, and marketing to different types of potential students.

“Through programs that we offer, at least here at Purdue Fort Wayne, the over 200 degree options that they have, they can just get what they need here in Fort Wayne without necessarily having to go anywhere else for a fraction of the cost,” says Purdue Fort Wayne’s James Velez.

“Some of the big programs that we added are engineering, so that’s just a different population of students that have come to Anderson to pursue that degree. Cyber security and national security bring a different kind of realm of students, as well. So just adding those new programs has been helpful in recruiting students to the university,” adds Samantha Schnepp from Anderson University.

The schools will also have to fight to keep the students they have.

“I was able to talk to other schools that I’ve not really heard about or heard from. So if I don’t find Ball State my first year satisfactory, I will be able to think of other options for my sophomore year of college,” North Side senior Anthony Hayes says.

The economists predict Ivy League schools and other elite institutions will continue to be inundated with applicants, and that the schools more vulnerable to the drop in college-age people will be regional four-year schools that serve local students.

Corinne Rose

Corinne Rose is a reporter for WPTA.

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