Ideas

Snapshot

Readers React: ‘This sounds nice, but it ignores a huge upcoming phenomenon: the “birth dearth”’

Last week, Tony Rehagen wrote about colleges and universities pulling back on recruitment of white, rural students.

The author, who grew up in a small town in Missouri, argued that higher education is an important vehicle for bridging divides in our increasingly fractious country — and that white, rural kids need to be on campus to build that bridge.

But an online commenter who goes by the name “user_4429094” suggested that drawing more of these students could be difficult:

This sounds nice, but it ignores a huge upcoming phenomenon: the “birth dearth.”

Nathan Grawe’s groundbreaking book last year, [“Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education,”] describes in stunning detail the striking reduction in the number of college students in rural states [by] 2030, largely in the upper Midwest and northern New England — anywhere there’s a preponderance of white and black people. (Southern and western states with large populations of Asian and Latinx people will not see reductions.) . . .

With that reality, along with the glut of colleges in those regions that are already having a hard time attracting students, would any college pursue students from rural areas?

I know it’s bad for democracy not to, but it’s likely unworkable, especially since the rural students can’t pay much tuition.