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WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - American students are jumping ship from woke colleges and seeking more traditional education.
The United States experienced a 1.1% drop in undergraduate enrollment in 2022, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Since 2020, enrollment has dropped nearly 5%. This, while enrollment has increased for Christian colleges in the last three years.
The majority of available research points to the pandemic as the reason for the drop in enrollment. The editor in chief for the Standing for Freedom Center at Liberty University, John Wesley Reid, agreed but highlighted the unearthing of woke ideologies during widespread remote learning:
2020, the pandemic forced parents to be involved with their kids' education again. Everybody was at home. Everybody saw the screens, and the parents were like, "Now, wait a minute. This is not right." ... The great awakening that happened in the public high schools is manifesting in enrollment in Christian schools. ... They woke up, parents and students too ... during the 2021–22 school years and said, "We're not going to do this anymore." So that mentality followed them into their college choice.
Last year, The University of Dallas, a Catholic college, saw the second largest incoming class in it's history — welcoming nearly 500 new students. The university's president, Jonathan Sanford, credited the school's commitment to their foundation as a "Catholic, liberal arts university known for intellectual rigor and deep commitment to the Catholic faith and a robust, Western-based classical education."
Sanford also highlighted a need in today's culture:
I think there's a deep hunger in the souls of all individuals, but particularly in this generation, for a real education and real exposure to the timeless ideas and classical texts as well as real exposure to how to build upon those timeless truths and classical texts in order to be innovative contributors to the renewal of culture.
The University of Dallas is one of the 22 colleges recognized by the Cardinal Newman Society for its strong Catholic identity. Also among the featured colleges in the Newman Guide are Christendom College in Virginia, Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in New Hampshire, Wyoming Catholic College and Thomas Aquinas College in California.
In order to accommodate a steady increase in applications, Thomas Aquinas College opened a second campus on the East Coast in recent years. Michigan's Hillsdale College has also seen a large increase in applications and enrollment. Hillsdale's executive director of media relations and communications, Emily Stack Davis, shared the institution's approach: "At Hillsdale, we recognize that education should point to the permanent things — an understanding of what it means to be human, how to live a good life, and what leads to happiness."
Many conservative Americans are realizing the value of a classical approach to the liberal arts. In Florida, Catholic Gov. Ron DeSantis promised to reform the woke academic system at New College of Florida. DeSantis took the first step by appointing new members to the college's board of trustees. One of DeSantis' appointees is Christopher Rufo, a senior fellow at the conservative think tank Manhattan Institute.
Rufo tweeted last week, "My ambition is to help the new board majority transform New College into a classical liberal arts institution. We are recapturing higher education."