If you're thinking of heading off to a community college next year to either pick up an associate's degree or save some money on your core credits for a bachelor's degree, expect company. Similarly, if you're planning to attend a for-profit career college to up your chances of landing a decent job, you are definitely not alone. During recessions, people typically flock to college, often choosing cheaper or quicker degree programs to help them get on their feet and be more competitive on the workforce. Enrollment is up at career colleges and community colleges are expecting a similar increase. While reduced state higher education funding and continued troubles in the private loan market are causing some problems at two-year and career colleges, both types of schools are expecting major increases in enrollment as more Americans deal with fallout from the faltering economy. If you're heading off to college in 2009, you definitely want to take all of this into account. Apply early for admission and financial aid, and register early for classes. Several community colleges are also instituting programs to fill empty seats in classrooms with unemployed students, so if you typically wait until almost the start of the term to register for classes, you may have more trouble finding a seat than you have in the past. While students enrolled in online degree universities won't have to compete for physical space, they may still notice some effects of increased enrollment. With state universities and community colleges facing budget cuts and increased enrollment, you may face more competition for fewer resources as everyone searches for ways to save money. One group of students may actually see less competition, though. The number of students taking the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) this year is down, suggesting that fewer students may be planning to apply for graduate programs. Typically, like community college and career college applications, graduate school applications go up during recessions. However, while MBA applications are up this year, many programs that require the GRE may see fewer prospective graduate students. The effects of the credit crunch on student loans, the uncertainty of the economy and employment prospects, and the desire not to lose a source of income were all listed as possible reasons for this decrease in an article in Inside Higher Ed.
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