HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Fall’s Final Enrollment Count Is In. Colleges Lost More Than 475,000 Students.

New data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center provides a somber final tally of total college enrollment in the fall of 2021: It dropped 2.7 percent from a year earlier, a decline of 476,100 students.

Undergraduate enrollment, which was down at every type of institution, slipped by 3.1 percent — or 465,318 students — from the fall of 2020. The total decline among undergraduates since the fall of 2019 — just before the pandemic hit — was more than a million students, the center said.

As colleges navigate their second full academic year of the pandemic — with some pivoting to online instruction as cases of Covid’s Omicron variant rise — undergraduates are “continuing to sit out in droves,” Doug Shapiro, the center’s executive director, said in a news release.

Probably wise.