Student Enrollments: Salient Features

By Anonymous

Schools and colleges in the United States saw a dramatic rise in enrollments in 2008, according to the figures projected by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Elementary and Secondary Education: Public Schools

In all, there are approximately 14,200 public school districts, with around 97,000 public schools. That also includes about 4,000 charter schools. As per the NCES report, there are approximately 35,000 private schools offering education from kindergarten to higher grades.

As per these numbers, 2008 saw a record enrollment of 49.8 million students in public elementary and secondary schools. 34.9 million students were expected to attend pre-kindergarten to eighth grade, while about 14.9 million students were expected to be taken into grades 9 through 12. Private schools saw 16.2 million students enroll in fall 2008.

Enrollment in all public elementary and secondary schools put together is projected to set new records every year from 2008 through 2017, by which time enrollment is expected to reach a possible peak of 54.1 million students. The projections also show that the South will witness the biggest boost in enrollment when compared to all other regions.

Enrollment in Schools

(All figures in thousands)



Grades PreK-12

Grades PreK-8

Grades 9-12





2008 (Projected)




2017 (Projected)





Projections show that the South?s share will have increased from 33 percent in 1965 to 38 percent by 2008 and is expected to rise to 40 percent by 2017. The West, on the other hand, is slated to rise from 18 percent share in 1965 to 25 percent share by 2008, and to stay at 25 percent in 2017. In the Midwest, however, the share of enrollment is projected to drop from 28 percent in 1965 to 22 percent by 2008, and to stabilize at 20 percent in 2017. In the Northeast, too, enrollment is projected to drop from 21 percent in 1965 to 16 percent by 2008, and to be at 15 percent in 2017.


Elementary and Secondary Education: Private Schools

The NCES notes that while 16.2 million students were expected in fall 2008, the percentage of enrollments in private schools has shown a downward trend ? declining from 11 percent to 9 percent in 2005. Also, the breakup of students across different types of schools has begun to vary, with Roman Catholic schools maintaining the lion?s share. Even there, however, enrollment has decreased. Statistics in 2005 showed that the percentage of students studying in private schools was higher, at 13 percent, in the Northeast as compared to 10 percent in the Midwest, and 8 percent each in the South and the West.

Colleges and University: Undergraduate Enrollments

In what can be termed a positive trend, total undergraduate enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions has, in general, increased steadily since 1970 and is projected to arrive at 15.6 million students in 2008. An estimated 18.3 million students in all are projected to attend 2-year and 4-year colleges and universities, showing a rise of about 3.0 million enrollments since fall 2000. A projected 20.4 million enrollments up to fall 2016 indicates that college education is on the rise.

Another positive trend is that in the years 1970 through 2006, women have increasingly enrolled in undergraduate programs at rates three times as fast as men. Women are expected to make up the greater part of college student enrollments in fall 2008 ? about 10.6 million women compared to 7.7 million men. Women are also projected to comprise 57 percent of undergraduate enrollment till 2017.
Additionally, enrollment in full-time undergraduate programs is expected to continue to surpass enrollment in part-time programs over the coming 10 years, and enrollment at 4-year institutions is probably going to continue to exceed that at 2-year institutions. The maximum number of students will attend full-time (with around 8.8 million as intake for fall 2008) and 6.8 million will attend part-time.  To see how the United States fare against education programs over seas, please visit the following article United States vs. World Education.

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