College enrollment numbers decline, workforce continues to expand

Michigan is ranked 36th in the United States in both college attainment and per capita income.

Although that ranking is reflective of the higher incomes that come along with a college degree, Michigan students who enroll in college represent a minority in the state, and the number is continuing to decline.

As reported by Central Michigan Life in October, concerning trends in enrollment are affecting nearly every university in the Mid-American Conference. In fact, the only MAC school to not see declining enrollment this year was Kent State University.

CMU had a total enrollment of 28,389 in 2010 and 28,311 in 2011 and dipped to 27,693 this year, which translates to a 2.2-percent decrease from 2011 and a 2.5-percent decrease from 2010.

“Many of those who enroll are first generation students,” Director of Career Services Julia Barlow Sherlock said. “They don’t understand the true value that a degree can represent.”

According to data from the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, only about 44 percent of high school graduates enroll in college. Of that 44 percent, only about 51 percent manage to get a degree from a four-year institution. The figure is even more concerning for community college graduates–with about a 20 percent completion rate.

“What we are finding is a lot of people are being underemployed, taking jobs that they are overqualified for,” Sherlock said.

With a minority of the state attending college, many choose to go right into the workforce. One program that can help students find a job is eRecruiting, a nationwide online job search program offered through CMU Career Services.

There are currently more than 2,000 positions posted through Career Services and eRecruiting. Using eRecruiting, students are able to apply for part-time jobs, internships and post-graduate positions.

Tori Stevens, the assistant director of Career Services at the Office of Student Outreach and Social Media, said most of the jobs available are primarily off-campus, although some on-campus jobs do exist through the program.

“E-Recruiting is the job search system that allows an employer to be able to connect with students and offer lots of great professional development opportunities,” Stevens said. “Students need to realize that jobs are being posted every day, so it's important to continuously check eRecruiting.”

According to Diane Prenkert, administrative support staff member for recruitment services, there are more than 2,150 jobs available as of Jan. 3. Last year, nearly 5,000 positions were available between August and July.

“This is a great sign that the economy is coming back,” Stevens said. “CMU is very fortunate to have loyal and willing employers who have stuck with coming to CMU's campus–even when we had the hardships of the economy.”

In addition to the resources available through eRecruiting, the Employer Spotlight program through the College of Business offers many career-oriented benefits to students as well.

Through direct engagement with employers, students can discover more about company opportunities and details to better prepare themselves for a career after college.

Stevens said freshmen should begin the job search process as soon as possible.

“Freshmen should utilize Career Services now rather than waiting until they are in need of an internship or job,” Stevens said. “The process to start professionally developing yourself does not happen overnight. Building experiences and gaining transferable skills from opportunities takes time, dedication and commitment from the student.”


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