LUBBOCK, Texas — Four- and Two-year colleges have seen a decrease in enrollment rates that is predicted to continue trending downwards. According to data from the National Student Clearinghouse, between 2019 to 2022, there has been an 8% decrease in enrollment for undergraduates. 

Kent Gallaher, Provost and Chief Academic Officer of Lubbock Christian University, said they have seen a 2% decrease at their university in enrollment rates, and that public universities are not the only ones struggling.

“Your SMU’s, your Rice’s, your Baylor’s, along with the research, one flagship universities like [Texas] Tech or like Texas A&M and the University of Texas have weathered this downturn fairly well,” Gallaher said. 

“The schools that have really suffered probably the most are your for-profit Universities or University of Phoenix, those kinds of things, and then two-year community colleges have really suffered in enrollment.”

Community college enrollment showed a 13% decrease from 2019-2021, according to the National Student Clearinghouse DEI enrollment data lab. 

Gallaher said there are many factors causing the decrease, but also not enough high schoolers are graduating to begin with. 

“We’re projecting fewer high school graduates starting in 2026. I think what we’ve seen since about 2010 when we hit peak enrollment, college enrollment in the United States is a combination of accessibility cost,” Gallaher said. “Then just the competition in this part of the world between do I go to college or do I take a job maybe in the energy sector, go to the oil field.” 

Javonte Reeves, a freshman at Texas Tech said he chose a four-year program, because of his specific engineering degree, but said he knows other students who haven’t had it so easy. Many have taken what’s called a gap year due to many stressors. 

“I think it can play a part. With not only more. People going to college, but also like a lot more people, are probably applying again because of taking gap years, maybe because of COVID reasons,” Reeves said. 

Gallaher agreed the pandemic did impact higher education for those graduating at the time, as well as those already in school. 

“High school students really struggled with the transition from high school to college when they had been remote for maybe as much as two years,” Gallaher said. “Those adults that would come in and study for a graduate degree, we saw dramatic declines as a result of COVID not so much in our undergraduate student population, more so in some of these graduate areas.”