As enrollment declines at traditional universities, technical colleges attract more interest

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) — Fewer high school graduates are enrolling in traditional four-year colleges nationwide, according to the National Center for Education.

While campuses in the UW system are seeing an increase in new students, overall enrollment is still down. In Wisconsin, enrollment at state universities is down about 1% from last fall, according to new estimates from the UW system. Nine of UW’s 13 campuses saw enrollment drop between 3% and 6%, including UW-Milwaukee.

Meanwhile, technical colleges follow different trends.

“Right now, our numbers are slightly higher than they have been in recent years,” said Sarah Adams, dean of enrollment services at Milwaukee Area Technical College.

Adams says the changing economy could be a contributing factor to the spike in interest.

“At MATC, students have the option of taking short-term programs, certificates, one-year programs, one-semester programs, two-year programs, we offer such variety to students,” said said Adams.

This could be an indication that the future of higher education is changing to meet labor market demands, as schools like MATC offer flexibility.

“When they want to come here and immediately enter the workforce, we have that availability so they can do that,” Adams said.

She also says more and more high schools are taking the time to educate students about the variety of options available to them after graduation.

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