The number of students enrolling in college immediately after high-school declined by 6.8 percent in 2020, according to a new analysis by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Although that was an unprecedented one-year drop, it was nowhere near the organization’s whopping 21.7 percent estimate from December.
A “process error,” the Clearinghouse said in a news release, led to an overestimate of the rate of decline in enrollment in its previous report. The updated analysis — based on approximately 50 percent more data — covers approximately 860,000 graduates from nearly 3,500 high schools. It includes fall enrollment numbers from 87 percent of participating colleges.
The pandemic has disproportionately affected students from low-income, high-poverty high schools that enroll large numbers of minority students, the Clearinghouse said. The enrollment decline among graduates of low-income high schools was more than twice that of graduates from higher-income schools. Community colleges saw the steepest drops among all types of postsecondary institutions, enrolling 18 percent fewer graduates from low-income schools, and 8.8 percent fewer from higher-income schools.
The 6.8 percent overall drop in new high-school graduates going directly to college was more than four times the rate of decline, 1.5 percent, in 2019.