It's good to be the flagship
Southern flagships are booming, according to Nick Anderson, writing in The Washington Post. He lists the top 50 flagships. I guess that would be all of them, right? The top four are SEC schools. The University of Tennessee is 44th. Even the University of South Dakota has grown 48%. I once interviewed for a job at USD. When we got to the location of the Sears catalog store, I was told that was the place where spouses usually start crying. As I think about it, that was a bit sexist as well as discouraging.
One takeaway is that growth varies significantly even among elite schools. The University of Wisconsin-Madison grew 3 percent; the University of Virginia grew 17 percent.
Another is that some schools are pursuing huge expansions, particularly southern flagships in Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and South Carolina, all with growth rates higher than 50 percent. ‘Bama was the fastest-growing, at 92 percent. Out-of-state enrollment is a big factor too: At each of the four fastest-growing schools, nearly or more than half of undergrads are from out of state. Of course, that appears to be a revenue strategy too: Tuition is far higher for out-of-state students than for state residents.