American colleges are seeing a decrease in applications

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American colleges and universities are seeing a sharp decline in student applications over the last few years. Through the statistics that were gathered over the last ten years, these 50 higher learning institutions have seen an overall decrease in potential students. Ivy league universities are not immune to this phenomenon, some are on this list. Many news sources have interviewed members of the executive faculty in these institutions to see what they think about the decline. What it said to be the biggest contributor to the decrease in student applications has more to do with the fact that there are actually fewer students out there, as well as more institutions popping up every couple of years.


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It is currently a student’s market when it comes to their options for college, and colleges know as much. While there are the Ivy-League universities that are still seeing more and more applications coming their way, as well as an increase in student body, they are not worried over the decline since they themselves decline more than 90% of those who send an application their way. However, the decrease in applications, which cost money, means a decline in funds that the institution gets from the thousands upon thousands of applications very year. That kind of funding does make a difference for the schools.

The major contributor to lack of applications has more to do with how selective the institution is than anything else. You will find a a pattern in this list, that most of the decreasing applications are happening to private liberal arts schools than many other types of schools. Students have to pay a much higher tuition to these schools, which could very well explain the decline in applications coming their way with the heightened awareness with the student loan crisis.

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Brown University | 5.4% decrease

Brown is one of the eight Ivy-League universities in the United States. That being said, the institute has seen a drop of 5.4% in application submissions over the last two years. One of the reasons for the decline in Brown’s application submissions could be linked to the tuition fees of over $52k.

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Alabama State University | 33.06% decrease

Alabama State University in Montgomery, Alabama has experienced a 33.06% decrease in student application submissions. A drop of even 1% is significant to any institution, so a number such as this one is pointing at a much larger problem within the university’s walls. ASU is mostly known for its superb athletics department, which is why applications have been down, when gearing towards one type of student body, the likelihood of attracting others is lower.

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Johnson & Wales University – Providence | 9.58% decrease

Johnson & Wales University is known for its outstanding hospitality program. In addition to hospitality, though, the university offers engineering and design, culinary arts, liberal arts, business, fashion and merchandising and criminal justice. There is something for everyone here. However, despite the fact that there is a wide variety of majors, the university has experienced a 9.58% decrease in applications. This is specifically for the university’s Providence branch, the other three branches have not shown any decline as of yet.

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Alcorn State University | 69.45% decrease

Alcorn State University holds the record for the largest decrease in student applications. The reason for the 69.45% decrease is thought to be due to the university’s rural location in Lorman, Mississippi as well as the specific demographic that the university is aiming at having in the institution – African Americans. The university hold pride of place in being the first African-American land grant college in the United States. Founded in 1871, the school is famous for its Master of Business Administration Program.

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Florida A&M University | 12.12% decrease

Florida schools usually do very well due to their geographical location within the United States. Sadly, Florida A&M University has shown a decrease of 12.12% in student applications over the last decade, a significant decline. The university is ranked well among college rankings nationally. Located in Tallahassee, Florida, the university is one of the largest historically African-American universities in the country. The university offers undergraduate degrees, master’s and doctoral degrees.

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Princeton University | 11.6% decrease

Princeton University, a member of the Ivy-League group of US colleges, has seen a surprising decrease of 11.6% in applications to the institution. Tuition costs could very much be a reason for the decline, especially with the heightened awareness for student loan issues across the nation. Princeton University, located in Princeton, New Jersey, was founded in 1746, one of the only institutions to be founded before the American Revolution. The humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering school is considered to be one of the best in the country.

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University of New Orleans | 38.23% decrease

The University of New Orleans, sitting pretty in New Orleans, Louisiana (obviously), has experienced a serious drop in applications over the last few years – 38.23%. UNO is a public university which makes it even more surprising that applications were to drop so significantly, as tuition costs are not an issue. The reason for the drop is said to have been the terrible damage the city of New Orleans received due to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The university sustained a lot of damage as a result of the storm.

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College of Coastal Georgia | 66.72% decrease

College of Coastal Georgia was founded in 1961 and is located in Brunswick, Georgia, one of the state’s historical towns. The public institution has seen a drop of 66.72% and is considered one of the state’s newest colleges. The drop in applications is therefore not a good sign for the college, which should not have such a drastic and continuing decline over the last ten years. The college went from a two-year community college to a four-year institution in the late 2000s and is seeing a change as a result.

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Wheaton College | 5.77% decrease

Wheaton College experienced a 5.77% decrease in a applications to the college over the last ten years. The drop is not as significant as some of the other schools on the list, but significant nonetheless. The college is located in Wheaton, Illinois and is a Christian liberal arts college that offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees. The college was established in 1860, Wheaton offers 40 different majors in the social sciences, arts, literature, humanities, languages and natural sciences. Wheaton was listed in Forbes as one of the Top 100 Colleges and Universities in its 2015 rankings.

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South Carolina State University | 33.3% decrease

South Carolina State University is showing a 33.3% decrease in applications. This four-year university is a historically African-American university that’s located in Orangeburg, South Carolina. The university was established in 1896 and boasts programs that include professional studies, education, social sciences, humanities, engineering technology, mathematics, science, and business. Sadly, it seems that due to the fact that the university was put on probation for “concerning governing board conflicts of interest and board/administration structure, as well as financial stability and controls,” their applications took a hit.

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Harvard University | 1.5% decrease

Harvard University is probably the most famous of all Ivy-League institutions. Despite having an incredible reputation, application have gone down by 1.5% over the last two years alone. The fact that the acceptance rate stands at a low 5% and the fact that the tuition is around $63k, could very well be contributing factors to the decline in applications. It is without a doubt one of the ‘dream list’ institutions for most high school seniors. The university was founded in 1636 and is a private research university.

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Delta State University | 61.46% decrease

Delta State University is suffering from a 61.46% drop in applications over the last decade, a severe and substantial drop. With such a decline in numbers, there is a real risk of the university’s closure. Delta State University was established in 1924 and is located in Cleveland, Mississippi. It is a public university, one of eight in Mississippi. The university has four schools under its wing – College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, College of Education, and School of Nursing.

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Morgan State University | 57.8% decrease

Morgan State University is currently at a decrease of 57.8% in applications. It seems there are many who are no longer interested in applying to the Baltimore, Maryland institution. Morgan State is one of the listed historically African-American colleges in the United States. The university is a public institution but not a part of the University System of Maryland, having their own Board of Regents. The university was founded in 1867 under the name Centenary Biblical Institute.

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Touro College | 48.95% decrease

Touro College is a private college located in New York City. Touro is a relatively new institute, founded in 1971. The college has a large number of undergraduate and graduate students, but have shown a decrease of 48.95% over the last ten years. Touro is an affiliate of Touro University in Nevada and California, as well as an online version of the college courses. Touro offers many majors, some of which include Jewish Studies, Law, Business, Education, and Psychology and Social Work.

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Bowie State University | 45.75% decrease

Bowie State University has much more than a really cool name. The public institution is located in Bowie, Maryland and is part of Prince George’s County. The institution has seen a decline of 45.75% in application submissions in recent years. The athletically inclined university has a very extensive athletics department that includes cross country, football, tennis, softball, basketball and volleyball. The university was founded in 1865 making it one of the ten oldest colleges in the United States.

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Jackson State University | 6.34% decrease

Jackson State University, located in Jackson Mississippi has a student population around the 10k mark. Despite having such a large student body, JSU has experienced a decrease of 6.34% in applications. JSU was founded in 1877 as a seminary that later turned into four-year establishment. JSU is a public university and is ranked as the fourth-largest historically African-American colleges in the United States. The decrease the university is experiencing may be a temporary dip.

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Northeastern State University | 11.13% decrease

Northeastern State University, which was established in 1909, has felt an 11.13% drop in applications over the last few years. The university is located in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. An interesting fact about the institution is that it boasts a population of over 25% of American Indian students due to the fact that the town where the college is in is also the capital of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. The university even offers Cherokee as a second language.

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Southeastern Louisiana University | 20.93% decrease

Southeastern Louisiana University was officially established in 1970 when it became an official credited institution. The public university has felt a 20.98% decrease in applications to the school. The Hammond, Louisiana based university was once the fastest growing college in the United States. Other than LSU and University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Southeastern Louisiana University is the third-largest university in Louisiana. The university’s sports teams participate in the NCAA Division I in the Southland Conference.

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University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee | 8.23% decrease

University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee has experienced a gradual drop of 8.23% in applications over the last decade. The public university, which is a part of the University of Wisconsin System, is the largest of the universities in the greater Milwaukee area. The university is home to 14 colleges and schools and offers 191 degree programs, of which there are 33 doctorate degrees, 64 master’s, and 94 bachelor’s. The athletic department also has quite a name for itself as a participant in the NCAA Division I.

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Norfolk State University | 33.61% decrease

Norfolk State University, located in Norfolk, Virginia, is a four-year liberal arts university that’s public and one of the historically African-American universities in the country. Norfolk State University was established in 1935 and has eight schools under its umbrella, including social work, business and education. The university has seen a 33.61% decrease in applications to the institution, a major dip for the establishment. The university currently has a very strong athletics department, with a focus on football.

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Southern University A&M College | 28.79% decrease

Southern University and A&M College has seen a paramount decrease in applications to the school. Their 28.79% decrease has been ten years in the making. The school is unique in its agricultural experimental station which sets this school apart. The institution was founded in 1880 and is part of the historically African-American university system. The campus sits on the banks of the Mississippi River. One of the major organizations within the school to make a name for itself is the university’s marching band.

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Clayton State University | 25.21% decrease

Clayton State University is located in Morrow, Georgia. The public university serves the metro area of Atlanta and is part of the University System of Georgia. Founded in 1969, which is very recent for universities in the United States, it has experienced a drop of 25.21% in student applications to the school. Due to the rise of more institutions and fewer students, the decrease was inevitable, however much more than anticipated.

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Edinboro University of Pennylvania | 13.8% decrease

Edinboro University of Pennsylvania was named after the city of Edinburgh in Scotland, and located in Edinboro, Pennsylvania. The university is part of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and is one of 14 institutions under that umbrella. There are two campuses to the university and boasts a student body of over 6,000 students. The decrease of 13.8% comes on the heels of the highly competitive nature and growth in the university market.

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Ferris State University | 6.63% decrease

Founded in 1884, Ferris State University is located in Big Rapids, Michigan. The university was one of the first to accept women into its fold when it was less popular of a notion. These days, Ferris is one of the largest universities in the state of Michigan with their 19 off campus locations and online presence. The school, however, has experienced a drop of 6.63% in applications which comparing to others on this list is nothing, but still a significant drop for any institution.

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Western State Colorado University | 24.4% decrease

Western State Colorado University’s campus is located in Gunnison, Colorado, a rural area of the mountainous state. The university is a public liberal arts college that offers both undergraduate and graduate programs. Over the last decade, the university has experienced a 24.4% drop in applications to the school. In Colorado, the most popular college to attend would be University of Colorado – Boulder. Founded in 1901, the university offers many degree programs, including business administration, exercise and sports science, biology, and psychology.

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Rutgers University – Newark | 11.12% decrease

Rutgers University has three locations in New Jersey. The Newark branch of the institution has experienced a drop of 11.12% over the last few years. Rutgers was founded in 1766 and is an open research institution. It is one of the oldest colleges in the country and part of the Association of American Universities. Up until 1945, the school was private. Today, Rutgers offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs within its seven different schools.

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SUNY College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill | 11.92% decrease

State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology, which has its home in Cobleskill, New York, has seen a drop of 11.9% in applications. The college offers degree programs in much more than just agriculture and technology, but also hospitality, culinary arts, early childhood education and tourism, to name a few. The school was founded in 1911 and is part of a large number of national organizations for higher learning. Its goal is to become the top Agricultural Institution in the northeast of the United States.

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William Carey University | 7.94% decrease

Unlike many of the other universities on this list, William Carey University is a private Christian liberal arts college. The campus is located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The university has a secondary location in Biloxi, Mississippi. Despite having a drop of 7.94% in student applications, the school is ranked number 1 Best Value alongside other Southern universities. The university was founded in 1892. William Carey offers undergraduate degrees in education, religion, business, nursing and natural and behavioral sciences, as well as graduate degrees and Ph.D. programs.

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Northwestern State University of Louisiana | 22.67% decrease

Northwestern State University of Louisiana, other than having a very long name, is a public four-year university in Natchitoches, Louisiana. The school is part of the University of Louisiana System. The university was founded in 1884 and is one of the first six higher-education institutions to enter into NASA’s Joint Venture Program. Though it experiences a lot of success, the university has noted a 22.67% decrease in student applications over the last few years. There are a large number of colleges in Louisiana, which may contribute to the decrease.

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University of Missouri – St. Louis | 25.34% decrease

University of Missouri – St. Louis has seen a decrease of 25.34% in student applications. The university, established in 1963 is an open research institute that is part of the four universities that are in the University of Missouri System. Although the university’s address is St. Louis, the campus actually spans three different towns around St. Louis. UMSL has a current enrollment of almost 17,000 students, which is why they are probably not too concerned with the sharp drop they experienced.

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Southeastern Oklahoma State University | 10.01% decrease

Southeastern Oklahoma State University is located in Durant, Oklahoma and is a public university. the university was founded in 1909 and boasts both and undergraduate and graduate program. The university has 68 student organizations on campus, as well as three fraternities and two sororities. The university’s athletics department is part of the NCAA Division II Great American Conference. The team, Savage Storm, has participated in basketball, baseball, tennis, golf and football.

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Indiana Institute of Technology | 7.16% decrease

Indiana Institute of Technology has seen a 7.16% decrease in applications to the school. Known as Indiana Tech, it is located in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and is a private non-profit university. The college was founded in 1930 and later turned into university status. Today, the university has five colleges beneath it. The main objective of the university’s degree programs are career-oriented studies in computer science, business, criminal justice, engineering, and education, among others.

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Fort Lewis College | 19.37% decrease

Fort Lewis College, a public liberal arts institution, has seen a drop in applications of 19.37% over the last decade. The college is located in Durango, Colorado and was established in 1911. The college is strictly undergraduate studies and offers degree programs in economics, accounting, business administration, chemistry and marketing to name a few. Fort Lewis College is one of the six colleges in the country who are designated Native America-serving, non-tribal colleges as named by the United States Department of Education.

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Mansfield University of Pennsylvania | 15.05% decrease

Mansfield University of Pennsylvania was named after the town it is located in – Mansfield, Pennsylvania. The university is a public liberal arts university. It is one of 14 state universities in the state on Pennsylvania. Over the course of the last decade, the university has had a decrease of 15.05% in applications to the school. The university was founded as a seminary in 1857 only to burn down to the ground a few months later. It was rebuilt in 1859 when the college had 30 students enrolled.

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Lock Haven University | 23.83% decrease

Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania is a public university that offers its students 69 undergraduate degree programs and four graduate degree programs. The university has experienced a 23.83% drop in applications over the last few years. It is part of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and is located in Lock Haven, for which it got its name. Lock Haven’s main campus sits on 200 acres and has a average enrollment of 5,000 students.

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Palm Beach Atlantic University | 27.56% decrease

The name alone is a dead giveaway as to where the university is located – Florida. Palm Beach Atlantic University is located in West Palm Beach, Florida and is a private Christian interdenominational university. The university was founded in 1968, relatively recently for college standards. The core belief of the school is to combine faith-based ideology with a curriculum of hard work and endless learning and service in life.The university has experienced a drop of 27.56% in applications.

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Truman State University | 10.34% decrease

Truman State University is a public liberal arts and sciences university. It is located in Kirsville, Missouri and was established in 1867. Truman State University is known for being very selective with its admissions policy and standards. Truman State has five schools under its umbrella, including a school of arts and letters, business science and mathematics, health sciences & education, and social & cultural studies. Truman has had a decrease of 10.34% in applications.

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Southern Connecticut State University | 8.07% decrease

Southern Connecticut State University had decreased its application receipt by 8.07% over the last ten years. The university is one of four state institutions of higher learning in Connecticut and is located in New Haven’s West Rock neighborhood. The university was founded in 1893. SCSU is a teaching institution and maintains its core teacher education. The university offers master’s programs and a doctoral program in Educational Leadership. In addition to education, Southern is also considered a top tier nursing school.

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Grove City College | 28.65% decrease

Grove City College, located in Grove City, Pennsylvania, is a Christian liberal arts college. The college was founded in 1876 and offers a humanities core curriculum as well as requires its students to attend at least 16 chapel services every semester. The college has seen a drop of 28.65% in its application receipt. Although they have experienced a drop in applicants, the college is still considered one of the top tier private liberal arts school in the country.

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King University | 14.63% decrease

There is something about the year 1867 that had many universities come into existence. King University was also one of the institutes that was established that year. The private university is located in Bristol, Tennessee. They are religiously affiliated with the Presbyterian Church and Evangelical Presbyterian Church. King has experienced a decrease of 14.63% in applications. King offers over 80 undergraduate programs as well as four graduate programs.

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Lewis-Clark State College | 30.54% decrease

Lewis-Clark State College is feeling the admission changes with a 30.54% decrease in applications being sent their way. The public undergraduate college is located in Lewiston, Idaho and was founded in 1893. The college offers a wide variety of degrees, over 83 programs to be exact. They are well known for their programs in nursing, education and criminal justice. The average attendance is 3,500 students from all over the country.

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Missouri Southern State University | 10.7% decrease

Seeing a 10.7% decrease in application arrivals, Missouri Southern State University is doing its part to remain relevant in the higher education community. MSSU is a public university that is located in Joplin, Missouri. The school was established in 1937. MSSU boasts a very active campus life for its students, including more than 70 student organization, as well as a lively greek life. Their sports team, the Lions, is in the NCAA Division II and the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association.

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Denison University | 9.68% decrease

An Ohio school! Denison University, located in Granville, Ohio, is a private co-ed, residential four-year liberal arts university. The institution was founded in 1831 and is considered the second-oldest liberal arts school in the country. There are four other higher learning institutions in the state that are a part of the Five Colleges of Ohio. The school has seen a downturn of 9.68% in applications in recent years. Denison has been recognized as being one of the more diverse schools in terms of its student body.

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University of Connecticut-Tri-Campus | 27.4% decrease

University of Connecticut, also known as UConn, was established in 1881 in the form of an agricultural school, later turned college, later turned fully accredited university. UConn is a public land grant, National Space Grant, National Sea Grant research institution that is located in Storrs, Connecticut. The campus is absolutely huge, 4,400 acres in total. In recent years, the university has seen a decrease of 27.4% in applications to the school. UConn offers more than 100 majors for undergraduate degrees, as well as graduate and postgraduate studies.

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Madonna University | 9.89% decrease

Madonna University is an independent liberal arts school that is faith-based in Catholicism. The university is located in Livonia, Michigan. Madonna University was founded in 1937 by the Felician Sisters, a religious institute of pontifical rights. The university, being based in faith, could construe its 9.89% drop in application to the religious basis of the institution and the shift in today’s youths goals and objectives. The university offers over 100 bachelor’s, and 35 master’s programs to its students.

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Morehouse College | 26.31% decrease

Morehouse College sets itself apart from the crowd on this list as an all-male college. The private liberal arts college is an African-American institution located in Atlanta, Georgia. It is one of the only strictly male institutions left in the United States. It could be due to the fact that it is strictly male that the college has seen a drop of 26.31% in applications. Founded in 1867, Morehouse College is still the largest male only college in the country.

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United States Air Force Academy | 28.12% decrease

The only military school on this list, the United States Air Force Academy has been making officer cadets out of men and women throughout the nation. USAFA is located just north of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Over the last decade, the academy has experienced a 28.12% drop in applications. Founded in 1954, this military school is a United States Service Academy and has a very low acceptance rate due to its highly selective admissions process.

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Clarion University of Pennsylvania | 44.87% decrease

It seems to be a pattern that almost all Pennsylvania higher education institutes are on this list (Except Penn State of course). Clarion University of Pennsylvania, one of the states 14 schools, has also seen a significant drop of 44.87% in student applications to the school. Clarion was founded in 1867 and offers two-year, four-year and graduate degrees. The school was initially founded as a seminary like many others, but was made into normal status in 1887.

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University of Wisconsin – River Falls | 17.29% decrease

University of Wisconsin – River Falls was founded in 1874 and is a public liberal arts university. They have experienced a decrease of 17.29% in applications over the last decade. The university has a very large main campus of 226 acres, 32 buildings, and two laboratory farms. They offer over 40 undergraduate and graduate programs and are a part of the University of Wisconsin System. Their claim to fame is creating the St. Croix Institute for Sustainable Community Development.

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MIT | 7% decrease

Massachusetts Institute of Technology is one of the hardest colleges to get into in the country. The private research university was founded in 1861 and is only getting more and more prestigious as the years go on. The university has experienced a drop of 7% in its application statistics, which seems to be due to their extremely low acceptance rate – 7.8%. The university has a very strong entrepreneurial culture as well as cultivated the minds of some of the most brilliant scientists and astronauts in US history.

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