What state lost the most undergraduates last fall?

The enrollment picture for undergraduates has been grim lately. Some surveys have found that undergraduate enrollment dropped 3.6 percent in the fall of 2020 and 4.9 percent in the spring of 2021.

As usual, those numbers don’t tell us everything: How did certain states fare? Which regions, if any, saw gains?

The National Center for Education Statistics released 2020 enrollment data last month for more than 3,000 colleges across the country. Our Jacquelyn Elias broke down those numbers. Here’s a bit of what she found:

  • Fewer than one-third of those institutions saw undergraduate enrollment grow in 2020 from 2019.
  • One area did see growth: the Rocky Mountain region. Suburban colleges in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming saw more than 4-percent growth, or an increase of more than 5,000 full-time undergrads, in 2020 over 2019. Most of that bump stemmed from Western Governors University, the nonprofit online mega-university.
  • Four states — Utah, Arizona, Nebraska, and New Hampshire — saw undergraduate enrollment grow from the fall of 2019 to the fall of 2020.
  • Alaska and New Mexico saw some of the biggest declines in undergraduate enrollment from the fall of 2019 to the fall of 2020.

Read Jacquelyn’s full story here. And if you’re into by-the-numbers stories like this one, check out:

  • This look at whether campus life is really rebounding from the pandemic.
  • An interactive about what the industry learned last year.
  • This analysis of what happened to pandemic predictions for colleges.


  • Learn. There’s no article this week about productivity or saving time. Instead, here’s an icebreaker or dinner-party question: Do you prefer to know a secret and keep it, or to tell a secret?
  • Read. In 2014, the Ask a Manager advice column received a letter seeking guidance on what to do when a company pushed back a job interview six times (three plane tickets were even purchased). The columnist didn’t get to the letter. Later she realized the company in question was Theranos, the sham blood-testing start-up. She followed up with the letter writer. (Ask a Manager)
  • Listen. In 2001 the band the Gorillaz released its self-titled debut album. Twenty years later the group — which consists of two human musicians and four animated performers — is still making music, and its first album stands the test of time. (Spotify)
  • Watch. When Kimberly D. Acquaviva and Katherine E. Brandt decided to share their story of Brandt’s diagnosis and death from ovarian cancer, in 2019, responses to the online documentation were almost all positive. Here’s a short documentary on Brandt and Acquaviva. Our Jack Stripling wrote about this in 2019; read his story here. (YouTube, The Chronicle)


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