What goes up, must come down. But when the economy is in "down" mode, it's good for the enrollment at colleges such as West Virginia University at Parkersburg.
"Since the 1960's and '70's," says Anthony Underwood, Vice-President of Student Services, "any time there has been a downturn in the economic outlook for the country, colleges like WVU-Parkersburg have always seen an increase in enrollment."
Preliminary figures for the just-begun school year say WVU-P's enrollment for this year is down nine percent from a year ago. But its enrollment among first-year students is up slightly, about one percent. So the decline is mainly among previously enrolled students.
This is a trend, if only for this year. Schools throughout the WVU system, and West Virginia schools in general, have reported enrollment drops for the 2013-2014 academic year.
And Underwood says WVU-P's enrollment is still substantially higher than it was just four years ago.
"I think we all have to remember that we had a huge enrollment increase between 2009 and 2011; even a little bit for 2012. With the economic downturn of that period, this college retrained over 600 displaced and out-of-work people."
Ohio colleges, including Washington State Community College, had sharp enrollment declines last year. Nearly all of them said the drops were a result of a required change from quarters to semesters.
Final enrollment numbers are due out near the first of October.