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.