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Be Thankful Seniors: Fewer Grads May Mean Less Competition for College

It may be easier for students in the high school graduating class of 2014 to get into good colleges next year, thanks to a shift in demographics.

After years of growth, college enrollment has begun to dip. The College Board reported last month that in 2011, there were 0.2 percent fewer students going on to postsecondary education than the previous year. This comes on the heels of a decade of double-digit growth in college attendance.

There is a push for more students to go to college, but there are just fewer high school graduates these days to fill the seats in freshmen classes. The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education reports that the population of U.S. high school graduates is entering a period of modest decline after nearly two decades of sustained growth. The number of high school graduates reached a peak of 3.4 million in 2010-11. This year, 3.2 million students are expected to get high school diplomas in the spring.

An article in The Los Angeles Times this week notes that this trend may translate into less competition among applicants at many colleges and universities.

"The population dip won't bust open the doors to Stanford, Harvard, UCLA,  and other highly selective campuses," the story says. "But many experts predict it will be somewhat easier to obtain admission offers from many good, even competitive, schools."

So, seniors, as you finish up your essays and applications over the holidays, don't get too stressed. The odds are in your favor this year.

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