Northwest College is far from unique in the challenges it is facing because of declining enrollment.
College enrollment nationwide has decreased for eight consecutive years, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
There are a number of contributing factors including record low unemployment numbers, the burden of high student loans and the minimum value of many college degrees in achieving employment.
It is just a guess to estimate how much low unemployment contributes to people not attending colleges.
Of course there are cases where a potential student could not find a job or a student with a degree in one field could not obtain employment in their chosen field so they return to college.
Certainly there are some of those, but probably that is not a major factor. Student loan debt is something we hear about all the time.
However, while the total student loan debt in the U.S. amounts to $1.56 trillion, the average student coming out of a four-year university program has a debt of only $29,800. Their parents, however, have acquired an additional average debt of $35,600 in federal Parent PLUS loans.
So on the average, a student with a four-year degree and their parents owe about as much as they would if they bought a new pickup. That is a very manageable debt.
The basic problem in our opinion is many college students are acquiring degrees without directly employable skills.
Employable skills would include degrees in fields such as engineering, accounting and pharmacy.
As Northwest College faces the challenges associated with declining enrollment, we hope the advisors at the college and the parents advise the students to look at future employment when choosing majors.
Those decisions will help both NWC and the students.