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  • Colleges nationwide struggle to meet enrollment goals as more young people forego a degree
  • Some responded by making offers of admission to students who had never officially applied.
  • The cost of a college education has led many young Americans to explore other options.

Just like raising wages to attract employees the universities are creative as they face their own shortages.

This could be good news for tens of thousands of prospects students who could be admitted to the 162 colleges according to a process allowing them to make offers without special request.

These colleges work with third parties to initiate or expand “direct admissions” programs, which allow schools to send offers of admission to students who have not gone through the traditional application process. Third parties include Common App, Concourse, Niche.com, Sage Scholars, and the State of Minnesota.

Although the process may vary by program, it often involves a student registering on a website, providing biographical information, and entering their GPA and academic interests, a treat it can take as little as half an hour. Then they wait and if a school is interested, the student can be accepted without having to complete any additional application materials.

Crowdan online platform recently acquired by the education consultancy eBikeis a partner of at least 125 schools. Wise scholars and Minnesota work with 26 and 50 respectively, while the Common application and Niche.com are each linked to at least 14 colleges.

George Mason, Loyola University New Orleans, Iona, and St. Thomas are among the schools already using direct admission to recruit students.

Although ultra-selective universities are less likely to adopt direct-entry programs, some institutions see opening the way for prospective students as a potential solution to their declining enrollment numbers.

“There has to be a bit of a redistribution of power dynamics from college to families right now,” said Luke Skurman, CEO of Niche.com Inc. Told The Wall Street Journal.

College enrollment has fallen more than 1% since last fall, according to a report from the National Student Clearinghouse. Since the start of the pandemic, registrations have decreased by 6.5%. That’s about 1.5 million fewer students to graduate. Nor is the decline a new trend – or a trend driven solely by the pandemic. About 3 million fewer Americans are enrolled in college compared to ten years ago

While the decline in enrollment over the past decade can be attributed to a decline in the college-age population – due to the decline birth-rate – there has also been scrutiny as to whether a college education is worth it. Adjusted for inflation in 2020 dollars, the price to attend a four-year college was around $10,000 in 1980 – in 2020 it was nearly $30,000. This increase has contributed to the significant student debt burdens that many graduates continue to carry with them.

While President Biden has proposed student debt the reforms could make the repayment process more manageable for some borrowers, tuition may prove to be too great a barrier for many potential students.

And the tuition bill will look even less attractive if young people continue to succeed through alternative paths.

In recent years, there have been record Jobs, many of them for jobs that don’t require degrees. And some employers wanting to attract workers have relaxed their requirements, making it even more careers accessible to non-graduates. Others have explored alternative forms of education such as business schoolscertifications and apprenticeships.

In addition to helping increase enrollment, direct entry advocates argue the process can expose young people to colleges — and lower tuition — that they may never have known existed. Many may still ultimately decide that college is not the path for them, but at least they will have a better idea, say these advocates, of their higher education options.