Changing US demographics will lead to less competition, more diversity in colleges

A report released on Jan. 9 by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education suggests that as prospective college students become more diverse, they may also face less competition for college admission in the next decade due to a decline in the overall number of high school graduates.

“Over the last two decades, colleges and universities have been able to count on an annually growing number of students graduating from the nation’s high schools,” said the study, titled “Knocking at the College Door. “But it appears that period of abundance will soon be history.”

Until now, the growing number of high school graduates resulted from the surge of births that began in the 1990’s. However, since the 2007 recession, birth numbers have dropped and immigration flux has slowed, which will result in less high school graduates in the next decade.

Between 2011 and 2014, the production of California high school graduates will fall by over 37,000 students, or a 9 percent decline, and will continue to fall in the years after.

According to the report, California will lose the most number of high school graduates of any state in the coming years. Most declines will occur in the Midwest and Northeast, while the South will actually experience a small increase in graduates.

A decline in the ranks of high school graduates will lead to less college admission competition. Colleges may have to review and make changes to recruitment and financial aid policies.

In addition, the study found that by 2020, 45 percent of the nation’s high school graduates will be non-white, compared to 38 percent in 2009. The number of Latino and Asian graduates will increase 41 percent and 30 percent, respectively, while the number of white and black graduates will decrease by 12 percent and 9 percent, respectively.

Director of Multi-Ethnic Programs Ed Barron said they are already starting to examine programs and support systems to make sure they are relevant to the increased diversity expected at APU.

“It’ll have an impact on our staff and faculty,” Barron said. “To have meaningful mentoring relationships, they don’t have to be the same culture or same ethnicity, but there needs to be a sensitivity to the cultural and ethnic nuances of an individual… some level of appreciation, understanding and empathic connection.”

Barron also said that a diverse and culturally-aware staff and faculty will provide inspiration for non-white students.

“If I’m a young African-American college student, and I don’t see in administration, in the classroom, in student development… people that look like me, how encouraged and inspired am I to achieve or to aspire to those kinds of positions if I don’t see it being modeled?” Barron said.

Although APU is a predominantly white institution, every year higher numbers of non-white students enroll.

“We’re creating an environment where all students can thrive and grow and be the world-changers and game-changers that we talk about producing,” Barron said.

An increase in diversity at APU is good for the entire student body, said Barron, especially within a Christian context. He cited Psalm 133:1 as an example of scripture which promotes diversity among Christians:

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (NIV)