Date of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Karen Westberg, Thomas Fish, Sarah Noonan


The purpose of this quantitative study was to examine factors related to enrollment in higher education during the 2008-2009 economic downturn. The study focused on small private colleges and universities without historic prestige, schools that are non-selective and dependent on enrollment tuition. When viewing student enrollment through a consumer viewpoint, attendance at these intuitions fits the definition of luxury goods, which are highly susceptible to income changes like those associated with a recession. Hedonic modeling was used on 38 colleges and universities throughout the Midwest. Descriptive statistics revealed that average enrollment at these institutions actually rose during the recession. Institutions with specific business programs outperformed those without. Additionally, there was a positive correlation between graduation rate and enrollment. There was a negative correlation between acceptance rate and enrollment. The presence of nursing programs had no correlations with enrollment. The economic theory of oligopoly was utilized to interpret behavior between schools. Bolman and Deal’s Political Frame theory was used to interpret decision-making at like institutions during times of change. The study revealed a tradeoff between long-run enrollment success and short-run enrollment success. Additionally, the study revealed that student enrollment at such institutions was not viewed as a luxury good. The study concludes with recommendations regarding institutional changes for maintaining or increasing enrollment, especially during economic downturns.


College Choice, Access to Education, Private College, Enrollment Performance

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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