In DeMille's recent announcement, he mentioned that on-campus enrollment is 50% of what it was last year, and that "over 95% of [non-returning students] cite economic issues as the reason."
Indeed, the economy is in dire straits. And with a surging budget deficit, the future doesn't look rosy.
But hold the phone. This is an interesting case study (or simulation if you will). You see, education is typically countercyclical: in times of economic downturn, enrollment tends to go UP as people seek to improve themselves.
To wit, for-profit educator Apollo Group recently reported record revenue and enrollment. Indeed, "new degreed enrollment of bachelor students grew close to 20% over the prior year." (Ironically, DeMille intends to use the University of Phoenix, one Apollo's schools, as a model going forward.)
When push comes to shove, people tend to communicate with their wallets where they believe true value lies.
If "economic reasons" tend to drive people toward schools in a downturn, not away from them, what could the decline at GW mean? I believe it is an indictment on GW inadvertently handed down by its own students.