Class of 2008 is biggest yet

Nov. 1, 2007, midnight | By Maya Calabrese | 14 years ago

Number of white graduates expected to decrease

The number of public high school graduates in the nation is projected to peak this school year, according to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), an organization created to facilitate resource sharing among the higher education institutes of the west. It also predicts that the number of Hispanic graduates will increase significantly by 2014.

"The class of 2007 was the biggest class we had yet and the class of 2008 is even bigger. It gets smaller from there," said Anne Finnigan, Communications Associate for the Communications and Constituent Relations branch of WICHE.

The increased class size is due to a high birth rate, according to Brian Prescott, a Research Associate for the Policy Analysis and Research branch of WICHE. "The biggest reason the class of 2008 is expected to be so large is purely demographics and mostly due to the number of births 17-18 years prior," said Prescott.

"Birth: Preliminary Data for 2002," a recent report by the Center for Disease Control, reveals that the birth rate peaked at 16.7 per 1,000 persons in 1990, and then dropped 17 percent to 13.9 per 1,000 persons by 2002. The national birth rate is dropping as the life span of Americans increases, resulting in a smaller percentage of women of childbearing age, the report stated.

As the number of graduates decline, the diversity amongst them will increase. WICHE projects that in the graduating class of 2014, only half of the students will be white, while the other half will represent an ethnic minority. This means that the number of white graduates will decline to 1.6 million in 2014 compared to the nearly 1.8 million in 1994.

Regionally, the northeast will see a significant growth in the number of Hispanic public school graduates, rising from the 28,000 in 1994 to over 55,000 in 2014. "The birth rate of Hispanics is a lot higher than the birth rate of whites, and the northeast in particular is experiencing tremendous out-migration among whites," said Prescott.

As senior Blazers turn in their early college applications today, they may fear that the changing demographics and the large class size will hinder their chances of getting accepted by their university of choice; this is not the case. "This year's seniors are basically facing the same scenario as many recent classes," said Cathy Henderson Stein, College and Career Information Assistant at Blair. "It is important to select schools where you think you can succeed academically and be happy. There is a good college for every student."

Experts at WICHE say that while some of the more selective colleges will see an increase in competition due to the large class size, seniors should not worry. "Larger numbers of high school graduates will likely increase competition for the admissions slots that are available at selective institutions. However, because the vast majority of the available spaces in higher education are not subject to intense admissions competition, it is not the case that a qualified college-bound student will be prevented from enrolling," said Prescott.

Maya Calabrese. Maya is a SSEEENNNIIOOORRR! Her guilty pleasures include MTV, chocolate, boys and blasting music in her granny mobile with the windows down. More »

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