As Traditional College Enrollments Continue to Decline, New Data Show Career Colleges, Trade and Vocational Schools Are Primed for Big Student Gains

The number of students enrolling at traditional four-year colleges and universities have been in decline for over a decade. From the spring semester of 2011 to the spring semester of this year, there has been a reduction of over 3.3 million students in the college/university system. This represents an astonishing 17% drop in enrollment.[1]

More shockingly, there seems to be an acceleration in the trend, and to the dismay of traditional college and university enrollment offices, the pandemic is not to blame.

Enrollments for the spring of 2022 dropped by 662,000 students, a 4.7% year-over-year reduction; greater than the enrollment decline that was seen in the fall of 2021, as the pandemic was still raging.[2]

It has become alarmingly clear. High school graduates and adult learners no longer feel a traditional college degree reigns supreme.

However, new data reveal that students and adult learners aren’t simply “dropping out” of educational opportunities; but are searching for a better pathway to their future.

The statistics:

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, EDGE Research and HCM Strategists surveyed adults aged 18–30 about education. These adults have either never attended a four-year program or have dropped out of one.[3]

35% of those surveyed said they questioned the value of a traditional four-year degree and investing the time and money would not benefit them. 20% said college is simply not a fit for them.

Nearly half of the adults surveyed said they either currently learn, or plan to learn, new skills from video platforms. And, remarkably, a large portion have taken, or want to take, licensing and certification courses to further their careers.

When asked about the types of education and training that offer the best value, the survey participants’ top five answers were:

1. On-the-job-training

2. A skills course/courses to receive a license

3. A skills course/courses to receive professional certification

4. A skills course/courses to receive a verified certificate

5. A 2-year college degree

Of course, these answers do not bode well for traditional four-year colleges and universities going forward. But perhaps more worrisome for them, is that when presented with a list of 15 life priorities, obtaining a college degree came in dead last.

The depth of opportunity for skills schools, career colleges and vocational/trade schools

The survey data show that 27% of all these adult learners are highly interested in enrolling in skills-based school or course programs, and they see the deep value this type of education offers them.

There are over 210 million adults, 25 and over, in America. Yet less than 30% of them have obtained a bachelor’s degree. This means that nearly 150 million American adults could fit into similar demographics displayed by the Gates/EDGE/HCM education research survey.

Should this survey be accurate, and the data extrapolated, it could mean that up to 37.8 million American adults (27%) are interested in enrolling in skills-based school/course programs and/or pursuing a degree online. The very programs offered by non-traditional colleges and universities, trade schools, vocational schools and bootcamps.

However, enrollment issues within these types of schools and programs remain a challenge as well. Although millions of prospective students have shown a great deal of interest in furthering their careers via this pathway, far too many are not directly offered the opportunity.

Meaning that if you’re a career educator, these students probably don’t know about you.

There is, however, a solution.

Conversion Media Group specializes in connecting these high-intent adult learners directly with career educators through their call centers ability to generate call verified leads as well as through their online education portal at SchoolMatchPro.

CMG is in constant telephone, SMS text and email communication with thousands of these high-intent adults everyday. Many of them are ready to enroll as soon as possible or within the next 30-90 days, but want to hear directly from your institution before doing so.

Give them that opportunity.

With CMG’s US based owned and operated contact centers their call verified leads and live “hot” transfers in conjunction with their SchoolMatchPro website, this opportunity happens at the speed of NOW.

With enrollments in traditional four-year degree programs on the wane, and millions of Americans looking for opportunities in career education, there’s never been a better time to boost enrollment at trade schools, career colleges, bootcamps and vocational schools…

Than right now!

If you’re interested in learning more about how Conversion Media Group can drive qualified education leads, live transfers, applications, and enrollments to your institution – call one of our education specialists today at: (+1) 800 419 3201.

Or you can contact us HERE, and an adult education enrollment expert will get back with you in a jiffy.

[1] CTEE_Report_Spring_2022.pdf (

[2] Undergraduate Enrollment Falls 662,000 Students in Spring 2022 and 1.4 Million During the Pandemic – National Student Clearinghouse


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