College Enrollment Numbers Slipping in Pennsylvania

EAST STROUDSBURG, Pa. -- College enrollment numbers across the nation are slipping, but here in Pennsylvania, numbers are at a low not seen in years.

There is an especially steep decline in the system of state-owned universities.

Young minds are being put to work at Monroe County Technical Institute near Stroudsburg.

Justin Amoruso is a sophomore at Pleasant Valley High School and a tech student studying carpentry.

"I was always hands-on. I like to work with my hands. I am skilled in mathematics, and so I figured let me try a tech school," Amoruso said.

According to administrators at the tech school in Pocono Township, enrollment is up about 15 percent since 2014, and the need for trade workers is in high demand.

"One thing that we take pride in is that we give kids options," said MCTI director Dennis Virga. "If they want to enter the workforce through credentials or certifications or if they want to go to post-secondary, we do advocate for them to go to post-secondary, but it's important that they have those options. It's also important that they know which pathway they would prefer earlier on."

College is an option for some students after tech school, but some others have decided post-secondary is not for them.

Take 16-year-old Yvemary Francois, for example.

"I chose to get into this because I didn't really feel like college was for me because it's too expensive," said Francois.

The burden of debt is a fear of Francois, who is studying masonry at MCTI. He knows he is not alone.

"I think a lot of kids are running into it. You don't know where they come from. Some people come from a very poor family or something like that. They might not be able to go to college without a scholarship or something like that," Francois said.

As trade school enrollment numbers increase, college enrollment numbers are slipping. At East Stroudsburg University, enrollment numbers are down about three percent.

"We have seen a decline in the last two to three years. There are a variety of factors that have contributed to that," said ESU vice president Kenneth Long.

Administrators at East Stroudsburg University say colleges across the state are feeling a pinch when it comes to meeting enrollment numbers.

Since 2010, enrollment at ESU is down 16 percent, and it's the same at other state-owned universities.

  • Bloomsburg is down 14 percent,
  • Lock Haven is down 42 percent,
  • Mansfield is down 51 percent.

At East Stroudsburg, the shift is forcing educators to create more avenues for students.

"I think it certainly has helped us take a real hard look at our programs and do a real self-evaluation of what the best things we can do to help move students forward and make them give them the opportunity for the best potential for success. I think in that regard, sometimes pinching is a good thing. Sometimes when you get pinched, you get some great ideas," said Bill Cheetham, ESU enrollment management.

"We are recognizing that our students are changing, that more and more the types of students we have are going into the area that is nontraditional," said associate provost Jeff Weber. "The shift, it's not a crisis. It's a population shift that you're supposed to be providing a service to. That is all we are really doing. It's one of the main things we are doing on the academic side."

For students at ESU, enrollment decline across the state does not come as a shock. And while some students question if their degree is worth the tuition, they understand some careers come with a price tag.

"It's a little bit frustrating, but if it's what interests you and that is what is going to make you happy in the end, then you do need to do to be happy, in my opinion, no matter the debt," said senior Allyson Stitzer.

"I was never really a person to work with my hands, physical stuff. I have always been really good with academics and intellectual stuff. For me, it was easier for me to go to college, learn the information and then apply it to what I want to do," said grad student Dominique Di Cola.

In a statement sent to Newswatch 16 from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, officials say one area of focus is student retention. Officials are looking into how they can improve academic advising and help students in danger of dropping out.

15 comments

  • Bob Stevens

    Maybe because Gen Z is so indoctrinated into the free stuff crowd that putting effort towards anything is a “just cant even” moment… maybe because the cost of college is through the roof thanks to loan companies having no incentive to reduce price since the government will just shell out more and more since they can steal as much as they want from our incomes?

  • not_pennysltucky (@ds18301)

    Sadly the people who comment here do not have even the slightest clue of the science and technology involved in the entire process of turning on a computer/phone, touch screens, satellites to transmit their sad ignorant comments (think about that flat-earthers). Do they have any clue of the technology to create cell phone networks, the materials (plastics, polymers, semi-conductors) that they hold in their hand. Do you think these amazing technologies just appeared? Were they created in high school metal shops? The ignorance that is accepted here is sickening. Wake up. The world: China, India, Russia, Brazil etc are working their buttocks off to overtake this country in all these areas. American defense contractors (Boeing, Raytheon etc) are currently hiring thousands of immigrants because there simply aren’t Americans enough qualified to build our own defense systems. If we don’t support higher education, make it affordable to those who are worthy, we are doomed. Pure and simple.

      • Corporate media basher

        My goodness, I’m blown away how checked out you are. You are as blind to reality as its possible to be.

    • Corporate media basher

      Please tell me 2 things about agenda 21 and agenda 2030?? Are you even familiar? You sound like the model sheeple. My God please help this person and there loved ones. When its engulfed in flames your gonna see. I feel terrible for you.

    • Dave

      american collage no longer teach their too worried about their students feeling to tell them when their not performing and everyone passes so no need to excel

  • Corporate media basher

    Maybe people are starting to realize college is one of the biggest scams out there. This is very good news.

    • Corporate media basher

      Going to college was by far one of the greatest mistakes I’ve made in my 39 years on the plane. My daughter will be highly pressured to never under any circumstances to attend college unless she has drive to become a doctor or dentist, other than that absolutely not.

  • Lisa Marshinski

    Mansfield. . pfft. They had a Fairytale class that students had to take. Smart choice kids. Go to tech schools, start your own business, keep your head free from leftist indoctrination.

    • Corporate media basher

      The cattle will not appreciate these facts. Don’t forget nasa is a legitimate organization but there isnt 1 single real photo of earth in 2019. The indoctrination and brainwashing won’t allow them to realize and question this fact.

      • Corporate media basher

        Every photo of earth is photoshop, CGI composites. Every single one. Space is a lie folks as far as what were told. Does it say anywhere in bible we live on spinning cartoon ball? Of course it doesn’t , it does however mention the 4 corners of the earth. We aren’t spinning 1000mph at equator and zipping around sun at 66,000 mph like were indoctrinated to believe. Obviously. The technology the average man now has access to has proven this many times over. Wake up please.

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