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College admissions decrease 2 percent nationally

Nov. 23, 2013 at 3:53 PM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- Many U.S. colleges are struggling with lower admission numbers, with overall college enrollment down 2 percent, education officials say.

The largest-ever class of high school seniors was enrolled in 2011, and enrollment is not expected to increase again until 2024, a study by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education concluded.

With fewer students to draw on -- and more of them entering the workforce as the economy improves, offering an employment option for some seeking to avoid the cost of college -- many schools are scrambling to fill classrooms, The Washington Post reported Friday.

The problem was especially acute at St. Mary's College of Maryland, a private school on the state's coast near the Virginia border,. The school typically attracts about 450 freshmen but the 2013 class is 384 -- its smallest in 13 years -- the Post reported.

In part, schools are having to alter how they attract students.

At St. Mary's, for example, larger, full-ride scholarships to the most gifted students are being offered less frequently because attracting those students is a gamble when they have more options.

Instead, admissions offices are offering more partial scholarships -- dubbed by admissions workers "cocktail party scholarships" because they give parents something to brag about -- that can help seal the deal.

Usually those are in the $3,000-per-year range.

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