Student influx predicted

Prospective Elis could face more and more competition as the number of students seeking to enroll at American colleges and universities increases over the next few years.

The number of high school graduates could jump by 10 percent between 2002 and 2014, according to a study released this month by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. The study, “Projections of Education Statistics to 2014,” predicted that in order to accommodate this surge in the college-aged population, American undergraduate enrollment could increase by around 16 percent during that same period.

The expected jump in the number of potential students might lead to an increase in the number of students applying for existing spots at colleges and universities like Yale, said William Husser, the author of the study.

Despite the study’s predictions and plans for the expansion of undergraduate student bodies at Harvard and Princeton, there are no formal plans for Yale’s expansion. University administrators have informally discussed the possibility of creating two additional residential colleges in the future, but they have not formalized these plans.

“We’ve made no commitments at this point, but we’ve certainly considered the possibility of growing,” University President Richard Levin said. “We’ll make those decisions not based on national trends, but what looks right for Yale.”

Between 1989 and 2002, the earliest period for which the study documents growth, total university enrollment jumped 23 percent. This could be one of the factors behind the recent increase in applications submitted for admission to the Yale College freshman class, said acting Dean of Admissions Margit Dahl.

“I think that’s part of what has boosted our application increase, but I don’t think the number of 17-year-olds is going up as quickly as our applications,” Dahl said.

Despite the study’s findings, Dahl said it is unclear whether Yale’s applicant pool will increase in the future.

The effects will not be limited to undergraduate programs. The study also reported that graduate program enrollment could increase by 21 percent and professional school enrollment could increase by 32 percent.

The Yale Law School has seen a steady number of applications in the last decade, said Janet Conroy, associate director of public affairs at the Law School. She said she was also doubtful that applications would increase as a result of national trends.

“Our school happens to be somewhat insulated from dramatic swings in applications,” she said. “It is not a school where people apply on a whim.”

The study is the 33rd in a series of similar projections published periodically since 1964. In addition to predicting future graduation and enrollment trends, it highlights trends in many aspects of American education, including teacher compensation, public school expenditures and student-teacher ratios.

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