It sounds like a college students dream - staying in school for an extra semester, hanging with your friends a few months longer, delaying the real-world just that much more. Unfortunately, with the current economy, students aren't making the choice to stay in college because they WANT to but rather because they feel they NEED to.
1. Fear. There is no way to escape talk about the state of the economy. Students hear it on television, from their parents, from their friends, from their employers. A sense of fear definitly exists inside students who are already nervous to explore and try their luck in the real world. Staying in school is their safety blanket. They don't need to worry about the realworld while they're safe in school.
2. Double Majors. Students are taking on double majors and additional minors to best equip themselves for the outside world. They want to be armed with as much knowledge as possible before trying to make it in the horrible economy they hear so much about.
3. Young people are being encouraged to go back to school. With their peers and/or older siblings who decided not to graduate in the past being urged to return to school it's difficult for current students to leave. According to Peter Morici, a professor at the University of Maryland, "For young people who were planning to go back to school anyway, the time has arrived. The opportunity cost is much less now." (quotes in article by Liz Wolgemuth in US NEWS).
4. Online Courses Make Going to School Easy. Online courses have become extremely popular over the past five years. More and more schools are offering online courses to their enrolled students. According to Sloan Consortium, in 2009, over 3,000 colleges are offering at least one online course. This number has increased by over 1,000 colleges since 2003. The number of students enrolled in online courses is also close to 5 million (according to Sloan Consortium).
5. More scholarships. Because of the current economic climate, more schools and private associations are offering current and future students scholarships. The increase of financial aid programs has also helped students stay in school and afford to do so.
6. Students are considering additional degree programs. Fear of the realworld and what's to come has increased business school enrollments. Professors are actively encouraging students to really consider a graduate degree. The more prepared and educated the student is when they leave college, the better.
I asked my friends on Twitter what they thought: