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Changes in University Markets

What are the 5 largest U.S. universities?
1. University of Phoenix
2. Miami-Dade College
3. Arizona State University at Tempe
4. University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
5. Western International University
“Surprised? Two primarily online universities and one community college among the top five. FYI, the University of Phoenix has more than twice the number of students (117,309) as any of the next four (which range from 54,169 to 50,663).”
[Source: via the Dangerously Irrelevant blog – Chronicle of Higher Education. Campuses with the Largest Enrollments, Fall 2005. August 31, 2007.]
I’ll bet many public librarians would have put Phoenix into their list given the stress supporting those students (and local taxpayers) has become. Probably some academic librarians would have known about the emergence of distance educatrion as a major player and the competition from large colleges has become. I read somewhere (I wish I could find the cite) that the majority of the students at the University of Phoenix are single mothers and that is a major target audience for them. Mothers with kids is a major market segment for public libraries too. Hmmm. With women more likely to go on to higher ed and more likely to graduate we’re seeing a new market split in our library audiences.
Either way, it’s an interesting discussion focus for libraries and our strategic thinking.
What does it mean to our programs to support continuous learning for adults? It’s got to be more than window dressing.

Posted on: September 11, 2007, 2:34 pm Category: Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. It surprises me that University of Phoenix has such a large user base, but it doesn’t surprise me that their top demographic is single mothers. As a single mother of four, being about to crank through intense, five-week classes online, during odd hours while the kids are sleeping, has been the only feasible way to attend college. I’ve heard of some libraries (can’t find the reference just now) which have set up programs for single mothers to attend GED classes while their kids are in story time. Providing these two services simultaneously may be one of the best things libraries can do to promote education.

  2. Iris Gross said

    Be careful of equating the biggest with the best solution. My cousin’s daughter has been trying to get her bachelor’s in Nursing Administration from the University of Phoenix and she told me that she had ten hours left, and it cost $1000/hr. This, for a girl on food stamps. She did tell me that some financial aid was available for her.
    Now, I remember screaming because they hiked tuition at the University of Central Oklahoma to about $125/CREDIT hour back in 1992 or ’93. If this is what distance learning is to cost, it eliminates any advantage for a lot of people who would have a hard time even getting in the door at that price.
    That being said, I’m looking to change careers and get a Master’s in Library Science, and would like to be able to do at least part of it without quitting my current job. So, I’m actively looking for at least a partial online solution.
    I suppose the bottom line is, spend a good amount of time doing research, and I guess that’ll be a good training exercise for a future librarian!