JONESBORO — All five of Arkansas State University's campuses saw enrollment decreases this fall, according to university officials who attribute the decline partly to a robust economy full of jobs for high school graduates.
The university system shows an overall enrollment decline of about 2.7 percent in students when comparing enrollment figures tallied last week to 2017 figures, the Jonesboro Sun reported. The 11th day counts were released Sept. 5 as mandated by the state Department of Higher Education.
Fewer than 22,800 students enrolled this year at the system's campuses in Jonesboro, Beebe, Mountain Home, Newport and West Memphis campuses. The headcount last year was nearly 23,400.
Lower enrollment numbers can be partly attributed to high school students delaying higher education and choosing to get jobs now, system spokesman Jeff Hankins said.
"It's good news that people coming out of high school are getting employed," said Bill Smith, spokesman at the Jonesboro campus. "There's always the opportunity to go back to college to get higher lifetime earnings."
All campuses except Jonesboro show slight decreases when comparing full-time equivalency rates, which are calculations showing how many students would be attending if they were all enrolled full-time. Jonesboro's full-time equivalency rate this year shows just more than 10,000 students would be enrolled full-time, an 11-student increase from the final rate last year.
Enrollment increases were reported this year at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas Tech University in Russellville and Henderson State University in Arkadelphia. The University of Central Arkansas, Harding University's Conway campus and Southern Arkansas University all saw declining enrollments.
"This is a trend that's been going on for the last five years," Hankins said. "Jobs are plentiful."