According to the National Student Clearinghouse, as of October 2020, enrollments at two-year public institutions declined 9.5% year-over-year from the fall of 2019. While Bachelor-degree program enrollments declined 1.1%, undergraduate Certificates and Associate-degree programs each declined at a significantly higher rate of 9%. In comparison, the largest previous year-over-year decrease was just 2.6%, in 2016.
How can community colleges reverse the enrollment downturn? The first step is to identify and focus on the most popular programs for Associate and Certificate programs.
We took a look at GrayData to see which Associate and Certificate programs have the most potential. We scored them on student demand, employment, competitive intensity and degree fit metrics, to identify the most promising programs. The news is good. In January 2021, eight of the top-ten programs in Google search volume are offered at two-year institutions. Criminal Justice topped the list; it rose 185%, reaching 143,500 searches a month in January.