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College enrollment drops as more students move toward trade jobs

Cedar Rapids Prairie High School graduation in 2022.
Cedar Rapids Prairie High School graduation in 2022.
Published: May. 28, 2022 at 11:07 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Saturday, a number of high school seniors across Eastern Iowa graduated and prepared for the next step in their lives.

For some, going to a four-year university wasn’t in the plans.

“I plan on pursuing my electrical apprenticeship at Price Electric,” Amadi Kawlilwa, a Cedar Rapids Prairie High School senior, said.

“I want to be a tattoo artist,” Cadence Osborn, another graduating senior at Prairie, said.

Four-year college enrollment has been slowly dropping since 2012, but a study conducted by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center showed it plummeted over the last two years. The nonprofit tracks education data on a national level. According to its figures, enrollment was down by over 1 million students between 2019 and 2021.

The University of Iowa’s enrollment has dropped from 24,476 in the fall of 2016 to 21,608 in 2021.

“[I’m] not a school person,” Osborn said.

Community college enrollment has also taken a hit dropping 13% nationwide. While there’s a change in how graduates are starting the next chapter of their lives, walking that stage was walking into a variety of new opportunities.

“There’s a lot of opportunities and other possibilities out there,” Kawlilwa said.

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