Tennessee Colleges See Record Decline In Enrollment Of High School Graduates

Image Credit: Pixabay

The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –

Many Tennessee parents are hesitant to send their children to the state’s public universities because many of these institutes of higher education have become a forum for activists to force concepts like critical race theory or social-emotional learning on students. Recent reports show that only about half of high school graduates in the state are going to college.

More and more students are looking at trade schools as a much more viable option for post-secondary education.

“With the Tennessee Promise and the grants we have, most students can go to a four-year or two-year institution virtually tuition-free,” said Gordon Williams, Mechatronics Program Director for Roane State Community College (RSCC).

*** Click Here to Support Conservative Journalism in Tennessee. We can’t cover stories like this without your support!***

RSCC offers programs such as computer science, engineering and technology, and medical services. 

The hands-on training that is offered by vocational schools is another benefit that is attracting many students.

“They have a classroom where they can learn about it and then a lab where they can actually practice it,” said Patrick Wade, Vice-President of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT).  “Another thing that is very appealing is the fact that they can get a job when they leave here.”

Williams also says that students can leave these programs and move debt-free into good paying jobs. 

“Students that leave this program with an associate’s degree can start out anywhere near $24-28 per hour,” said Williams.


According to a report released by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the percentage of high school graduates who are going to college is continually declining. It dropped from 61.8% in 2019 to 52.8% in 2021.

Steven Gentile, Chief Policy Officer for the Commission, says that pandemic is to blame for the drop in college enrollment. However, while universities have seen a decline, schools like TCAT are seeing a constant rise in enrollment in their technical programs.

“Competing with higher wages perhaps has brought down the college-going rate,” said Gentile. 

Celeste Carruthers, a professor in the Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee believes that the shortage of workers in the state is also behind the drop in college enrollment.

“Currently there are more jobs than job seekers,” Carruthers said. “Local companies are recruiting directly from high school.”

“It’s critical for our workforce, for our economy, and also for individual students to have the opportunity for advancement, in their lives, in their careers. And so it’s on a personal level for students and also state wide for the success of our Tennessee economy,” said Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s Chief Access and Outreach Officer Samantha Gutter.

In an effort to encourage more students to go to college, Tennessee’s state universities announced a tuition freeze for the upcoming year. Students will not see any rise in tuition costs during this time. The Higher Education Commission also plans to devise a plan to encourage more students to look at post-secondary education options.

About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative  ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career.  Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others.  He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History.  Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com

2 thoughts on “Tennessee Colleges See Record Decline In Enrollment Of High School Graduates

  • May 26, 2022 at 6:43 pm

    Good! Glad to hear it! Imagine paying thousands of dollars to send your kid to an institution that undermines everything you stand for. Get all kids out of ALL public education, K – college!

  • May 26, 2022 at 8:38 pm

    No wonder at the cost of sending a student to these liberal collages to learn garbage plus taking 20 yrs to pay off loans while the Adm. and some staff are raking in Millions of $$$ a year for nothing.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.