Application numbers are skyrocketing at Massachusetts’s public higher education institutions, reports The Boston Globe. At UMass-Amherst, applications are up 29% over last year, and at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (North Adams), applications are up 60%. The Globe attributes the rise in applications to middle class families abandoning private higher education due to shrinking investment portfolios. The anecdotes in the article attest to this, yet there are a lot of other factors that might be at play, including sheer demographics and the trend that high school students are applying to greater numbers of colleges. As a counterpoint to The Globe’s article, applications are also up—even soaring, you might say—at some private institutions. For instance, early applications at Stanford are higher by 18% and at MIT, applications are up 25%.
The real test of how the economy is affecting college choices will come in the late spring as institutions begin to report their yield rates—the percent of admitted students who decide to attend. I suspect that the yield rates will be dramatically higher at public institutions than in years past and dramatically lower at private institutions. Predicting is bad in the news business, but again, this is a blog, and I can do what I want here.